Newcastle Council draft transport strategy suggests 40km/h in suburbs

SPEED LIMIT:  Is 40km/h too slow for suburban roads?
SPEED LIMIT: Is 40km/h too slow for suburban roads?

REDUCING speed limits to 40km/h in residential areas should be considered across the city, a transport blueprint for Newcastle suggests.

The slowdown would make it safer for cyclists and  pedestrians and should become standard  in all new residential subdivisions, the Newcastle council discussion paper says.

The draft transport strategy also wants to double the number of people cycling to work and increase public transport use by 400 per cent.

The strategy uses the most recent census data to identify how people currently move around.

That data shows only 1.2 per cent of people working in the city catch the train to work and only 2.6 per cent catch a bus, almost half the number that did so two decades ago.

Almost 66 per cent drive into work with a further 5.6 per cent arriving as a car passenger – the highest rates in the city’s history.

While the strategy considers the need for more parking in the CBD, it also suggests that rising levels of car use are unsustainable and backs plans to encourage more people onto public transport.

With train and bus use at such a low level, the state government’s stated target of  20 per cent of trips by public transport by 2016 may appear overly ambitious – particularly when it is about to terminate the heavy rail line at Wickham and a replacement light rail service is not expected to start  for several years.

Regardless, the council’s strategy supports the 20 per cent  target for peak periods and subsequently includes plans to better promote public transport use while also lobbying state and federal governments to establish more frequent, more direct and cheaper public transport options.

Also ambitious is a bid to increase the number of people walking to the shops or social outings instead of driving.  Australian Bureau of Statistics data shows that 629,000 trips are made daily by people in the city, but only 16 per cent of those are walked. The strategy sets a target of 25 per cent.

It also aims to double the number of people cycling to work by considerably expanding the cycleways network and providing paths from key populated areas at Broadmeadow and Merewether.

The push for modes of travel other than private car comes as the University of Newcastle has sparked debate about the number of  parking spaces (five) planned for almost 5000 students and staff at its new city campus.

University vice-chancellor Caroline McMillen wrote in the Newcastle Herald on Saturday that extensive research for the new campus had determined that building more car parks was not the way to create an effective transport solution.

Rather, the university would be expecting students and staff to be catching public transport, cycling or walking.

The draft transport strategy will be tabled for the first time  on Tuesday when  the council is expected to agree to put it on public exhibition for a month.


- Provide more infrastructure, such as shelters and seating at transport stops

- Upgrade transport stops to meet disability standards

- Implement bus priority measures at key intersections and corridors to improve public transport journey times

- Lobby federal and state governments to improve train, bus and ferry operations, including more frequent and direct services, and more affordable fares

- Promote public transport, produce access guides

- Improve access to public transport stops


- Assess footpaths throughout the city. Focus on major pedestrian links to education, public transport, employment and major activity zones

- Continue to implement the Newcastle Cycling Strategy. Priority actions include completing the missing network links such as links to the city centre from Broadmeadow, Merewether and the Fernleigh Track

- Improve public lighting on shared paths and tracks

- Promote conditions that encourage walking and riding, including the consideration of 40km/h traffic zones in new residential subdivisions

- Better research the needs of cyclists and pedestrians


- Undertake a parking study of city centre (already under way)

- Implement parking management strategies in town centres

- Expand parking meters into new areas but reinvest revenue into public transport schemes and infrastructure

- Determine what is a suitable number of parking spaces in the city and consider a parking cap

- Review development controls for parking

- Improve signage in commercial areas

- Manage parking for motorbikes

- Revise council’s parking permit policy


- Develop and implement a road management framework

- Investigate extension to and provision of 40km/h local traffic areas

- Undertake road safety education


- Facilitate car pooling and assist in the establishment of car share schemes

- Develop and implement a workplace travel plan for council staff

- Promote park and ride schemes

- Promote the use of sustainable transport options


- Develop a local planning strategy to reinforce appropriate activity, commercial and employment areas in relation to transport and accessibility

- Modify council’s development contributions plan to identify sustainable transport measures that may be provided by a planning agreement in lieu of parking

(SOURCE: Newcastle City Council’s Draft Newcastle Transport Strategy)

* Newcastle has 153,000 residents who make 629,000 trips on a weekday and 567,000 trips on a weekend

* Of those trips, 14% are to work, 19% are for shopping, 27% are for social/recreation, 7% are for work-related business and 9% are for personal business

* Of those trips, only 1% are made on a train and 3% are made on a bus. A whopping 55% are made in a car as the driver and a further 23% in a car as a passenger, while 16% of trips are walked

Source: Australian Bureau of Statistics.


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