Neighbourhood Streets – The Padbury Experiment

Design Feature
Type of Project
Policy
State
Western Australia
Location
Urban

Neighbourhood streets play a vital role in making places liveable. Rather than seeing them as simply transport corridors for cars, they can be important places for walking, cycling, social interactions and even playful exploration by local children. Current research shows that by reducing speed limits on residential roads from the default metropolitan 50km/h to 30km/h, the safety and pedestrian amenity on local suburban roads can improve.

Transforming roads back into streets

Responding to this evidence, Neighbourhood Streets has been established as a low-cost road safety intervention that promises considerable benefits for community safety, neighbourhood amenity, public health and the community at large, by implementing 30km/h speed limits. This intervention has been researched in the Perth suburb of Padbury.

The implementation of a 30km/h speed limit must be self-enforcing, in that the design of the street should ensure vehicles cannot travel at more than 30km/h. This can be achieved through appropriate road and path widths, reducing forward visibility, and speed control devices.

  • When addressing road design for mid-block travel, the '3.1 metre to 4.1 metre road width rule' should apply – to minimise both speeding and conflict between vehicle users on the road.
  • The Manual for Streets (UK) recommends a number of street features that can influence the speed at which people drive, such as edge markings that visually narrow the road, the close proximity of buildings to the road, street trees, on-street parking, and pedestrian refuges and activity.
  • Local 'cycle-friendly' area traffic management devices should also be considered. Examples include raised intersection thresholds, narrow carriageway widths with traversable medians, gateway features, buildouts, offset kerbside tree planting as well as narrower intersection design, utilising tighter turning radii.
 Rather than simply transport corridors for cars, neighbourhood streets can be important places for walking, cycling, and even playful exploration by local children.
Rather than simply transport corridors for cars, neighbourhood streets can be important places for walking, cycling, and even playful exploration by local children.

The Padbury Trial

Padbury is a suburb approximately 20 kilometres from the Perth Central Business District, north of the Swan River. It is a contained neighbourhood within the City of Joondalup council area, bordered by the arterial roads of Mitchell Freeway, Marmion Avenue, Whitfords Avenue and Hepburn Avenue. There are eight main local distributor roads within the suburb of Padbury, being Gibson Avenue, Warburton Avenue, Giles Avenue, Forest Road, Gregory Avenue, Alexander Road, Grey Road and Barclay Avenue.

Current research shows that by reducing speed limits on residential roads from 50km/h to 30km/h, the safety and pedestrian amenity on local suburban roads can improve.
Current research shows that by reducing speed limits on residential roads from 50km/h to 30km/h, the safety and pedestrian amenity on local suburban roads can improve.

The main concern raised for 30km/h speeds is the impact on travel time and associated cost. For Padbury, a journey time assessment was undertaken to assess the travel time difference between journeys using 50km/h and 30km/h roads. Evidence indicates that the generic impact of introducing 30km/h speed limits in urban residential streets is almost negligible in terms of travel time. In this example, there is less than one-minute travel time difference from Padbury to the freeway or train stations when travelling at 30km/h compared to travelling at 50km/h.

Evidence suggests real travel speeds on local streets are well below the nominal 50km/h limit

This reduced the impact on travel times for this intervention. There are several Local Distributor Roads within Padbury. Most residential roads are classified as Access Roads, however the speed limits of all the roads are the same at 50km/h. As this speed is not representative of the different roles and functions for different roads, a proposal to reduce suitable roads to 30km/h within Padbury was presented. The proposal acknowledged the role and function of the local distributor roads, however recognised that the required posted speed limit did not have to be the standard 50km/h. Four roads (Giles Avenue, Gibson Avenue, Forrest Road and Alexander Road) were to be kept at 50km/h limit as they connect to the higher order arterial road network. All other roads were proposed to have a self-enforcing speed limit of 30km/h.

The Padbury project explored what the community reaction to a reduction in speed may be, considering the main concern often raised by the community as “the impact of travel times”. This project demonstrated that having a network of local suburban neighbourhood streets at 30km/h would have minimal effect on journey times but offer significant improvements in road safety and pedestrian amenity. While historically there has been opposition to the introduction of lower speed limits in local neighbourhood streets, this evidence demonstrates that such opposition is not justified. Lower speed limits in residential streets provide an important new strategy for achieving continued reductions in injury rates from road crashes in Australia.

Project Team

  • GTA Consultants

Project Cost

N/A

You might also like