The Wellington City Council Draft Speed Reduction Plan

I have based this article on my submission to WCC on the Draft Speed Reduction plan. This may not  be of much interest to a wider audience, but the essence of this article is to highlight how stupid, woke and ideologically driven the “liberal and managerial” left have become. Though opposition to this proposal is strong, WCC will procced with it regardless of this opposition and how bonkers it is because they disregard the democratic process. This is why it matters to everyone, because the democratic process and public consultation will be completely ignored due to ideology.

When presenting my submission, WCC provided me with some startling facts which I will include in this article. As of 12 June 2023, 2,343 submissions had been received. 99% were from concerned individuals. Of those, 67% said lowering speed limits to 30km to 80% of our streets would not reduce deaths and serious injuries on our roads. 41.3% said it would. Furthermore, 62.7% said lowering the speed limit would not reduce traffic pollution. That is a telling point for me.

At this point, I was asked to give my reasons. So, I did. “Reducing the speed limit to 30km on 80% of Wellington streets is ridiculous. There is no evidence that reducing speed limits to 30km to most of Wellington will save lives. How many people that have been hit by buses are included in your emotional preamble to this matter? Where and when have accidents happened? What caused the accident? Was it speed or inattention? What is the ratio of death caused by cars hitting pedestrians per hours driven or the number of cars on the road over the last 20 years (for example, road deaths per cars and driving time in NZ over the last 50 years has decreased from a high of 731 in the 1970’s to 318 in 2022 due to better cars and better roads, even though the number of cars on the roads has increased significantly – though more improvement is needed to our roads)? These sorts of questions have obviously not been asked because they do not fit into a loaded ideological argument. They do not fit your narrative. Further, reducing speeds to 30km has a more polluting impact than driving at 50km to 70km. For example, the more time a car is idling or going slow produces more CO2 (US Dept of Energy). So, if you are trying to save the planet, you are going the wrong way about it.”

Respondents were then asked whether this proposal should be introduced by June 2024. 61% of respondents strongly disagreed and 8.5% were somewhat opposed. Thus, nearly 70% of respondents disagree with this proposal. Then the question was put another way, “Overall, to what extent do you support or oppose the proposed plan to change speed limits?” A staggering 68% strongly disagreed and another 9% were somewhat opposed, bringing the total opposition to 77%.

In response to this part of my submission, I commented. “You are drawing a long bow to move from a 30km speed limit around schools, extending it to walking catchments around schools, to all of Wellington. This is basically a con to get people to agree to a consistent speed limit of 30km. It is wrong and illogical. I drive past two schools most days and the road safety around the schools are great (much better than when I did school patrol a long time ago), and the kids and parents know how to look after themselves. To make the driver as the bad guy and suggest that we should all drive slowly has now reached a point of absurdity. This is not about safety; it is about control and ideology. To extend the 30km to even say 2km from the school reaches a point where the actual speed limit of 30km makes no sense at all. It actually becomes a dangerous proposition as some drivers become frustrated or inattentive at the slower speed. Thus, another unintended consequence of a lower speed limit.”

Then an overwhelming 90% of respondents believe Wellington roads are either fairly safe or very safe. While 77% felt the same about city streets in general. The same overwhelming response was given to further similar questions.

My comments to this section were as follows, “In general, our roads are safe for both pedestrians and cars. I cannot speak for all schools, but the two in my area and the one I visit to pick up my grandkids in Porirua are safe (hence my answer as fairly safe). I would think rural roads and roads outside the city fall outside this proposal. If you are considering a 30km speed limit to these roads when a vast number of variables come into play, then you are completely bonkers. Hence my answer of neither safe or unsafe because the issue here is far more problematic and should be outside the scope of this stupid idea anyway.”

In the final section, I suggested the questions were loaded. “Firstly, our cyclists are very safe due to the number of cycle ways now built round Wellington (not that I agree with all of them, but that’s another issue). Secondly, then there are narrow roads where it becomes unsafe for cyclists, or problematic for them. In some ways cyclists should not use these roads as that is a logical thing to do (but obviously commonsense does not apply here). Thirdly, then there are roads that are safe, and cyclists and drivers need to share the roads sensibly. This section implies cyclists have a priority over cars. Hence, it’s a psychologically loaded section.”

Naturally, the 96% of respondents drove cars more than once a week to more than 5 times a week. What did surprise me was the age variation of respondents. I initially thought it would be mostly people over 65. However, the classic bell curve was between those aged between 25 to 65, representing 82% of respondents.

To cap this absurd idea off, councillor Tony Randle spotted an error in the draft plan. The council had miscalculated the impact of accidents on the roads by overstating the benefits by $250 million, thus turning the proposal from a “positive” plan to an actual “negative” plan.  In a letter sent to me, dated 23 June 2023 from Wellington City Council, stated “a significant error was found in papers used to make decisions on the draft plan. The calculation error resulted in an overstatement of the safety benefits in the benefit/cost ratio put to council when it approved the consultation approach in April.” Thus, the proposal has been withdrawn for reassessment. Yes, that is a massive mistake, which highlights how stupid and ideologically driven this draft plan is. Whether deliberate or not, it highlights how flawed this proposal is. Anyway, who cares about the views of those who will be affected? Wellington City Council will do it anyway and damn the torpedoes.

Footnote: In the letter from Wellington City Council, they informed that “Wellington is still required to meet the terms of the Land Transport Rule: Setting of Speed Limits 2022 rule.”

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