Wollongong councillors vote down push to reduce school speed limits to 30km/h - Illawarra Greens

Wollongong councillors vote down push to reduce school speed limits to 30km/h

Greens councillor Mithra Cox had raised the notice of motion calling on the council to develop a pilot project to improve safety around schools, by lowering speed limits, adding zebra crossings and prioritising footpaths and cycleways on school routes, among other measures.

After a long debate, Cr Cox's motion was defeated 10 votes to two, with only Greens councillors Cox and Blakey voting in support.

In reply to the majority, Cr Cox said she thought getting a report or briefing from council staff was an "absolute cop out".

Read the article by Kate McIlwain in The Illawarra Mercury, 31 August 2020

Wollongong councillors vote down push to reduce school speed limits to 30km/h

No go on school go slow: A majority of councillors did not support dropping school speed limits to 30km/h. Picture: Adam McLean.
 No go on school go slow: A majority of councillors did not support dropping school speed limits to 30km/h. Picture: Adam McLean.

Instead, they voted to get more information via a private council briefing, about the work council is already doing in the area of school safety.

Greens councillor Mithra Cox raised the notice of motion calling on the council to develop a pilot project to improve safety around schools, by lowering speed limits, adding zebra crossings and prioritising footpaths and cycleways on school routes, among other measures.

She also asked councillors to agree to prioritising works which can begin in this financial year within the city's existing budget and determine works which can begin in the 2021/22 financial year.

She said the pilot project could focus on one or two schools that were in really high need, and apply all the treatments necessary to make it safe for children to walk safety to school.

However, David Brown spoke against this saying he was concerned about several aspects of the motion - including the "divisive" suggestion that 30km streets could be pilots around schools.

He suggested councillors instead receive a briefing from the council's existing committees about the work being done behind the scenes by council staff to improve school safety.

Councillor Dom Figliomeni agreed with Cr Brown, and said he did not agree with the suggestion to reprioritise projects in the budget or the push to reduce the speed limit.

"The arguments to reduce the speed limit.. are possibly subjective at best and lack support by data," he said, adding that he believed most safety problems around schools were caused by parents dropping off their children.

Cr Ann Martin said she was supportive of slowing down the speed limit to 30km/h in certain neighbourhoods or city centres, but was happy to leave these decisions in the hands of council traffic planners.

After a long debate, Cr Cox's motion was defeated 10 votes to two, with only Greens councillors Cox and Blakey voting in support.

In reply to the majority, Cr Cox said she thought getting a report or briefing from council staff was an "absolute cop out".

However, Lord Mayor Gordon Bradbery said the council had been working to steadily to improve school safety over many years.

Despite most councillors' hesitancy to trial a drop in school speed limits, Transport for NSW said it had been working with the council to identify safety improvements in areas of high pedestrian activity. This includes a possible trial of a 30km/h speed zone, a Transport for NSW spokesman told the Mercury last week.