Is 100km/h too fast past a school? Frustrated Bay of Plenty principal fighting 'red tape'

Is 100km/h too fast to be going past a school? 

A western Bay of Plenty principal, Brendan Wilson, says it is. He has been fighting to change the speed outside Te Ranga Primary School for over five years.

"Red tape and bureaucratic processes are inhibiting common sense," he said. "It would be tragic if it takes a death to change the speed limit from 100 to 70km/h."

The Te Ranga School principal said they want "common sense to prevail and action to happen quick".

"We put policies and procedures in place to mitigate risk and we do all that we can. We cannot control the speed of people going outside our school."

He even looked into buying his own 70km/h speed limit signs in 2016, but was warned against. 

"It just seems crazy that red tape and bureaucracy could be the difference between life and death and is inhibiting what seems like common sense," he said. 

"We have some students that suffer from trauma, that we have difficulty controlling what happens. When there's traffic moving past at 100km/h, it makes it difficult, there is risk."

In 2016, the Western Bay of Plenty District Council told the Bay of Plenty Times NZTA was "currently reviewing the policies and procedures by which speed limits are set and a trial is underway with various councils in the Waikato".

"Once this trial is completed and the results are available we will do a review in accordance with the new procedures. This is likely to be in 2017," it said at the time. 

This week, Western Bay of Plenty District Council's Ruth Woodward told 1 NEWS the council is intending to undertake a district-wide speed limit review in 2020, which will involve community consultation on proposed speed limits.

"Council had commenced a review of speed limits in 2018, but is waiting for NZTA to complete its speed limit review process on State Highway 2 (Katikati to Tauranga) before council proposes any changes to speed limits on the local road network," she said.

Ms Woodward said the reason the council began its speed limit review in September 2018 was due to NZTA's speed limit review of SH2 at that time. However, "NZTA did not follow through with this plan and still haven't initiated that process".

"So in February 2019 our councillors decided to put our review on hold until NZTA had made its SH2 decisions."

In response to this, and in response to questions if NZTA were holding up the process to lower a speed limit around a school, Ross I’Anson of NZTA said it "expects to begin consultation on possible changes to the speed limits next month".

"We will continue to discuss the proposals for SH2 with the council in order to help them identify which local road speed limits should be reviewed at the same time," he said.

"NZTA is reviewing the speed limit on SH2 from Katikati to Tauranga. A technical assessment of the road has shown that the current speed limits are higher than what is safe and appropriate for the road and how it is used."

When asked if 100km/h was a appropriate speed outside a school, Ms Woodward of the council told 1 NEWS the speed limit "is not a target speed and there are no signs on Te Matai Road showing 100km/h".

"This is the maximum speed legally allowed for an unrestricted road in New Zealand. Drivers are free to drive at a safe and appropriate speed around schools, when they see the road signs stating SCHOOL which are posted on Te Matai Road."

Currently, council technical staff have recommended 80km/h as a speed limit for the road by Te Ranga School, "however this will need to go through the Speed Bylaw and consultation process and on the conclusion of this process council will make a decision".

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Brendan Wilson of Te Ranga school has been fighting for the change for more than five years. Source: 1 NEWS