A Health Impact Assessment (HIA) was conducted on a proposal by Dunedin City Council (DCC) to extend the 30km/hr speed limit zone within the central city.
The work was initiated and co-funded by the DCC, along with the HIA Support Unit. The DCC led the HIA, in partnership with Public Health South (PHS) and with guidance from Impact Assessment Specialist, Martin Ward.
The HIA looked at the effects, both positive and negative, on the following determinants of health and well-being: physical activity, social capital and personal safety. Potential effects were considered for three priority groups: the elderly, youth and the general pedestrian population.
Overall the HIA found that the proposal to extend the 30km/hr zone would result in an increase in levels of personal safety and social capital. There was also evidence to suggest that levels of physical activity would rise if certain other factors were brought into play. These were the creation of pedestrian-only zones and design of the area to ensure pedestrians were sheltered from rain when waiting to cross the road. There was evidence to suggest that noise and exhaust emissions from passenger transport vehicles were hindering physical activity and levels of engagement in community activities and public affairs in the zone. Passenger transport vehicles were regarded as “noisy”, “smelly” and “off-putting” for pedestrian traffic and potential users. This was of concern as we are seeking to encourage modal shift away from single occupancy vehicle use and towards walking, cycling and passenger transport.
There was support for the proposal to extend the 30km/hr zone from all of the groups interviewed at the appraisal stage of the HIA.
The HIA process resulted in three sets of recommendations based on the evidence gathered in the HIA, one set for the Dunedin City Council, one for the Otago Regional Council, and one for the Ministry of Health, Ministry of Transport, New Zealand Transport Authority, Ministry for the Environment and Environmental Protection Agency.
It was also recommended that there be an investigation into the value of a Memorandum of Understanding between Dunedin City Council and Public Health South so that projects of interest are identified early on for potential HIAs to be undertaken on.