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  • Renee Cluff

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    High crash rate leads to introduction of 40km/hour speed limit in Cairns CBD

    Speed limits will be reduced in the Cairns CBD from early next year, to cut down on the high rate of crashes.

    The Cairns Regional Council today voted in favour of lowering the limit from 50km/hour to 40km/hour in an area bounded by McLeod, Spence and Florence Streets and the Esplanade.

    In the five years since the Cairns Regional Council rejected the lowering of the speed limit due to community opposition, crashes in the CBD have resulted in 171 casualties, costing the community an estimated $60-million.

    The data, compiled by the Department of Transport and Main Roads, also showed Aplin and Abbott Streets have the highest crash casualties of all 50km/hr streets in Queensland and more than a third of all casualties have been pedestrians or cyclists.

    Councillor Terry James said a lowering of the limit was recommended by a CBD Traffic Safety Review Working Group, comprising representatives from key stakeholder groups such as Police, Sunbus and the Cairns Chamber of Commerce.

    “This data was looked at and considered by the working group and it was determined that a lower speed limit would likely improve safety for people in our CBD.

    “Lowering the speed limit by 10km/hour in some of these key streets would have little impact on traffic flow but can make a big difference when it comes to avoiding collisions or reducing the risk of injury,” he said.

    In 2013, the idea was rejected because of intense opposition from local business owners, drivers and pedestrians, during a public consultation period.

    Responses included concerns about police not fining jaywalkers.

    People also said they’d only support a 40km/hour speed limit if it was restricted to daylight hours.

    Division five councillor Richie Bates told Tropic Now he's believes public opinion has now swung in the other direction.

    "Given the positive responses from every major stakeholder and community focus groups, I'm confident the changes will be supported.

    "Since 2013 significant discussion and analysis into 40km/hour zones has occurred.

    "This reduction is now warranted given the evolution our CBD with new hotels, arts precincts and educational facilities."