Maribyrnong council will bypass the state government and go it alone in introducing a 40km/h speed limit on residential streets.
An officer’s report considered at Tuesday night’s council meeting proposed rolling out the reduced limits across all local streets.
The Safer Local Roads report points to feedback suggesting that three in four residents feel unsafe walking and cycling because of the speed of cars.
The reduced limits were unanimously backed by Maribyrnong councillors.
Their introduction will cost more than $540,000 for new signage and line marking and up to $18 million to roll out the likes of speed bumps and widened pedestrian islands.
Under the proposal, a reduction of 60km/h speed limits to 50km/h will be sought for stretches of VicRoads-controlled arterial roads including Ballarat Road, Gordon Street, Churchill Avenue, Williamstown Road and Whitehall Road.
“The benefits for the proposed introduction of 40km/h speed limit within council’s municipal boundaries, in terms of road safety and reduction in crashes, are well established and aligned with community’s views and expectations,” the report states.
The plan has the backing of Maribyrnong mayor Catherine Cumming, who noted a 2016 community survey in which 76.5 per cent of residents indicated being “dissatisfied with the speed of traffic on local roads and considered that the speed was too fast”.
She said lowering speed limits would substantially reduce the risk of injury or fatality and encourage more people to walk and ride.
“When Bicycle Victoria surveyed parents about why their children don’t walk or ride to school, cars speeding was definitely a concern,” she said.
The reduced speed limit will be rolled out in seven staged areas, starting with central Footscray.
While the proposal has been met with some resistance, Cr Cumming said similar complaints had been made ahead of the introduction of a 50km/h limit in built-up areas, but they had quickly died down. She said both City of Yarra and City of Port Phillip had gone down the 40km/h path and it was appropriate for Maribyrnong to follow suit.
Deputy mayor Sarah Carter said there was merit in the proposal if the council was serious about encouraging more people to cycle and walk.
Maribyrnong council will look for the idea to be backed statewide at this Friday’s Municipal Association of Victoria state council meeting.
Roads Minister Luke Donnellan and the RACV have both pushed back against the plan, arguing such changes need to be considered on a case-by-case basis rather than under a blanket approach.