Inner West Independent

Leichhardt a 40km/h-only zone?

Greens Councillor Daniel Kogoy is pushing for mandatory 40km/h zones across the entire Leichhardt municipality, but the plan has been met with early scepticism by other councillors and the roads authority.

Mr Kogoy has lobbied Leichhardt Council to reduce speed limits to mitigate the risk of pedestrian fatalities in the district.

“Reducing the speed limit to 40km/h on all roads in the municipality would make the road system safer for all users, including motorists,” he said. “It would also encourage healthier lifestyles by getting more people walking and cycling.”

Mr Kogoy pointed to research conducted by Monash University and The Heart Foundation revealing that speeds above 40km/h vastly increase the risk of pedestrian fatalities.

“Research into the chance of a pedestrian fatality occurring as a result of a motor vehicle crash shows that, ideally the vehicle speed will be less than 30km/h,” he said.

“When the impact occurs at 40km/h, the pedestrian has a 20 per cent risk of fatality, but if the speed is increased just 10km/h to 50km/h – the most common speed limit in the Leichhardt Municipality at the moment – the risk of fatality increases to 60 per cent.”

But Liberal Councillor John Jobling described Mr Kogoy’s plan as a “whole lot of nonsense”.

“If that’s the basis of his point – to get people to walk and cycle – we are now in the realm of my fellow Councilllor’s view that cars should be banned entirely,” he said.

“In other words, you walk, you rode, you biked or you get on your horse. A lot of people just simply can’t do that.”

Mr Jobling acknowledged the evidence that suggested slower driving speeds reduces risk of fatalities, but said the proposal would be difficult to enforce.

“There’s one thing of putting up a speed limit for wherever you like,” he said. “You could put up 10 kilometres if you wanted to but it’s pretty useless doing that if there’s no simple way of being able to enforce it.

“I accept the argument of if you have a serious accident, it reduces the probability of a fatality – that’s well established. But to simply to say that for health reasons people have got to go walking or riding bicycles, I am sorry no I can’t agree to that.”

A spokesperson for Transport NSW said each road would be considered individually when enforcing speed limits, including in Leichhardt.

“Leichhardt Council has a number of 40 km/h zones in place,” the spokesperson said.

“RMS is happy to work with Leichhardt Council on proposals for the introduction of new 40 km/h high pedestrian activity or local traffic area zones. Each local road will need to be considered individually, as it is not appropriate to reduce all roads without due consideration.

“There are no municipalities in NSW signposted entirely 40 km/h.”

Mr Kogoy’s motion to investigate the 40km/h limit was on the agenda for this week’s Council meeting but was not discussed due to limited time. It will be carried over to the October ordinary meeting.

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