The best time to introduce a nationwide speed limit of 30km/h on residential and urban streets is now.
COVID19 and active transport
It is a great time to fast track and test 30km/h in response to COVID19. Many more people in Australia have discovered during the pandemic that they enjoy walking and cycling to places. With social distancing still being practiced on public transport at times, people need to be able to walk and cycle safely rather than choosing to drive which can cause congestion on the roads. Introducing 30km/h is a fast and low cost intervention, that will extend the reach of strategic walking and cycling routes and spreads the benefit of existing investment.
Introducing 30km/h is faster and cheaper to implement than most other measures to support active travel. An Ipsos study found that the majority of Australians have a desire for change rather than a return to how things were before the COVID-19 pandemic.
More Community backing will come once people can see what good it does to their street and their life
The most likely explanation why in Australia we don’t have 30km/h as a default speed limit in urban and residential area, is that politicians are worried about drivers being against it. Here the example of the city of Graz, who implemented 30km/h across the entire city in 1992: There was a strong contra-campaign towards 30 km/h speed limit ongoing before of the implementation. The opponents claimed for a public opinion poll. The former vice mayor of Graz who was in favour of the speed limit argued that it isn’t easy for people to vote for or against a measure like this before they have seen the effects. That is why he decided to have a two years test phase. While some people have been very much against the measure before it was implemented a big majority voted for 30 km/h speed limit after the two years testing period. Read more about “why drivers will thank you for 30km/h”.
We need a plan to cut emissions
While the electrification of the car fleet has a big role to play to cut emissions, walking and cycling also play an important role. The Grattan Institute recommends a 30km/h default urban speed limit as part of the plan to get us to net zero by 2050. https://grattan.edu.au/report/grattan-car-plan/
Street for Pandemic: Response & Recovery by Nacto: