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Councillor offers ‘rubbish’ solution for speed signs

Councillor offers ‘rubbish’ solution for speed signs
School's out next week but the 30kph school speed zones will remain in force. PHOTO JONATHAN LEASK/LDR

One councillor has put forward a "tongue in cheek" solution to 30kph speed zones when Mid Canterbury schools are closed for summer.

Rubbish bags.

Councillor Richard Wilson has suggested that, after the last day of the school term, the council place black rubbish bags over the 30kph signs.

“Ashburton College is shut from December 11 until February 1, therefore there are no children at school.

“Take three super bags out, put them over the 30kph signs, which is done quite often in roadworks, and that would actually alleviate all the problems with people being caught speeding in those areas.”

Unfortunately, even in the absence of the sign the speeds in the urban school zones would remain enforceable by police.

“Covering a permanent speed sign [with a rubbish bag] does not change the enforceable speed limit of 30kph,” Canterbury road policing manager Inspector Natasha Rodley said.

Wilson said his comments were “a bit of tongue in cheek” and remains a firm believer that the law is the law, and covering the sign won’t change that.

He is all in favour of 30kph speed limits for the school day, “which was the intention” of introducing the speed limits in July, but it wasn’t an option for the council under the current legislation – without installing expensive electronic variable signs.

“It’s just frustrating to see the mayhem it’s causing.

“Once you put 30kph in that means 30kph all the time.

Whether the signs are covered or the intention was for school hours, “the police will enforce it”.

He’s not in favour of breaking the law but is to apply commonsense to how it's set.

“If we can change the rule to match the risk period for the children rather than just a general 30kph.

Rangitata MP James Meager said that if there is a government rule getting in the way of a sensible change, he would support and advocate for that rule to be changed.

“We should always drive carefully, especially around schools, but the blanket 30kph limit at all times does not seem practical or sustainable in the long term.”

New Transport Minister Simenon Brown has pledged to "repeal and replace the rules that set speed limits” and that could include a change to allow the 30kph zones to be time-specific, rather than permanent,

without the need for expensive electronic variable speed signs.

It is unknown if any change will be in place by the time the council plans to review its 30kph school speed zones in February.

Highway speed reductions

Proposed speed reductions along state highways in Methven and Rakaia are set to come into force early next year.

SH1 through the Rakaia township is set to be lowered to 50kph, and to 80kph over the SH1 Rakaia River Bridge, and in Methven the stretch of SH77 past the Ōpuke Thermal Pools will be lowered to 80kph.

Waka Kotahi NZ Transport Agency is waiting on its interim speed management plan to be certified by the Director of Land Transport a spokesperson said.

There is no fixed timeline but it is anticipated the changes will occur in the New Year.

“The speed limits are legal once they have been entered into the National Speed Limit Register, which has superseded the old bylaw system,” the spokesperson said.

“The signs would be installed in advance and covered over.

“Once the legal speed limit is in force, they will be uncovered.”

By Jonathan Leask