I just saw a 40km/h zone save a life

September 17, 2015

Photo Credit: The Advertiser

As the City of Charles Sturt looks to lower speed limits – Councils should take note and see how they make cities safer and more vibrant. 

I was sipping my morning coffee on King William Road earlier this week. I heard a scream, a screech of brakes and I braced myself for the worst.

A woman riding her bike out of a side street was turning right onto King William Road and in the morning glare hadn’t spotted a car coming her way. She’d ridden directly into its path.

But the car braked – stopped – and the woman went on her way unscathed.

For those who don’t know – this stretch of King William Road in Hyde Park is a 40 km/h zone. And this is what saved her life.

The truth is we all make mistakes. Whether we’re riding a bike, driving a car, walking to school… we all make errors of judgement. It doesn’t matter what mode of transport you’re using – we often lose attention. The age of smartphones and round the clock social media hasn’t helped. We now check our smart phones a staggering 221 times a day and people are so distracted these days that one woman even walked off a Melbourne pier while browsing on Facebook.

There’s little doubt that all road users should be careful about where they’re going and what they’re doing. I just don’t feel the consequences for making a mistake should be death or serious injury. Because people will make mistakes. And data overwhelming shows that slower speed limits save lives.

Just check out this graph below.

Screen Shot 2015-09-21 at 11.45.16 am

Source: Transport NZ

Or perhaps this one brings home the point more clearly.

Screen Shot 2015-09-18 at 7.29.27 am

Credit: Copenhagenize

And it’s not all about safety. Slower speeds are good for business. There are several studies that point to traffic calmed areas leading to more spending and increased property values. (There’s a reason people go to King William Road to spend cash in boutique stores and cafes).

Don’t get me wrong. Lowering speed limits – like what’s being proposed in the City of Charles Sturt – will be met with some fierce opposition. Just read the comments section of an article in the Advertiser.

Or just ask James.

Screen Shot 2015-09-18 at 7.44.02 am


Or Fludge.

Screen Shot 2015-09-18 at 7.46.33 am

Or John.

Screen Shot 2015-09-18 at 9.43.45 am

Yes, change will take political courage. The City of Unley has been ahead of the pack for quite some time, introducing district-wide 40km/h limits way back in 1999. As the City of Charles Sturt and Norwood, Payneham & St Peters Council all look to introduce slower speeds, I urge them to think of that one life that could be saved.

Speaking to the local messenger, Findon ward councillor Paul Sykes had the following to say:

“One of the most difficult conversations I’ve had as a councillor was with a father whose daughter was killed when hit by a car. He asked me to support a 40km/h limit in the hope that others would not have to share the same experiences.”

At the end of the day – this is really an issue of asking the question “what sort of place do you want your children to grow up in?”.

Note to readers – the graph used in this article was updated on September 21, 2015 due to data inaccuracy. 


Further Reading. 


Julian is the Marketing Manager at Bicycle SA. He's worked for the European Cyclists' Federation and now spends his time on two wheels in the streets of Adelaide or up in the Adelaide Hills on a Mountain Bike.

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3 Comments. Leave new

Reduced speed limits (the lower the better),&traffic calming are so long overdue.pedestrians &sketeboarders, in line skaters,cyclists&any other form of non motorised traffic deserve to be treated as the primary modes of transport for the health benefit of all.


I remember the 40kph trial on Hutt Street, I felt less safe on the bike. The traffic seemed to ‘hang around’ more. Didn’t make it more pleasant at all. 50kph is fine, all road users just need to pay attention and take some responsibility for their own actions and safety.


King William Rd is a very confusing road to ride. I try to avoid it as much as possible. There is one part of the road that is 40 kmh, and then several that are 50 kmh. There are many people who get confused with what exactly is the speed limit as long as some who don’t even follow it (Black Audi !!). I would suggest the rider in question was just lucky her guardian Angel was looking after her.


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