Works herald plans for 40km/h speeds in the Bendigo CBD

Motorists can expect roadworks at roundabouts within the CBD over the next few months as the local council prepares for 40km/h speed limits.

New speed limits were slated for July 1 and pedestrian safety improvements started last week at the Edward and Queen Street roundabout.

It was part of works the City of Greater Bendigo hoped would make the CBD safer for pedestrians in coming months, Brett Martini said.

“In the Bendigo CBD there has been 12 pedestrian accidents including one fatality, four bicycle accidents and 26 vehicle accidents between 2011 and 2015 on non-arterial roads,” he said in a letter to the area’s building owners and occupiers.

“Other major Victorian commercial centres including the Melbourne CBD and Geelong have successfully implemented a 40km zone in their CBD. While Ballarat has confirmed it will adopt a 40km/h speed limit in their CBD following a 12 month trial.”

Funding for the project came from the Transport Accident Commission’s Safe System Road Infrastructure Program.

Changes would see pedestrians get right of way at refurbished roundabouts.

Planned works would begin at various stages in the coming months included at roundabouts at Hargreaves and Edwards Street, Hargreaves and Mundy Street as well as Mundy/Hopetoun Streets and Lyttleton Terrace.

A new zebra crossing would be installed adjacent to the Bendigo Art Gallery in August.

Motorists and traders were divided on 40km/hour proposal when it was first announced last September, with some suggesting 50km/h was slow enough.

Bendigo resident Rhonda said at the time that slowing drivers to 40km/h would increase traffic around the CBD, which would become problematic during peak times.

A shop manager on Mitchell Street said some drivers would continue to flout the speed limit if it was changed, but suggested a reduction could make a difference. 

She said pedestrians crossing at the intersection of Mitchell Street and Hargreaves Mall was problematic and was “surprised there hasn’t been any major incidents”.

Bike Bendigo infrastructure group coordinator Chris Corr said at the time that 10km/h was the difference between life and death.

He pointed to international research suggesting that anything over 30km/h was considered dangerous. 

“The difference in travel time across the CBD (from 50km/h to 40km/h for cars) can be measured in seconds,” he said.

“We absolutely throw our support behind the proposal, and hope to reduce the speed limit further into the future.”