The Greens and the Opposition (SPD) in Germany will make 30kph the standard speed limit in suburban streets if they win the next election.
Major arterial roads will have a 50kph limit.
The limtis were announced in the parties’ overall traffic strategy, which will form part of their election campaign.
The parties say that the 30kph and 50kph limits will improve traffic safety, reduce noise pollution and carbon dioxide emissions as well as leading to better traffic flows. They point to the health benefits of lower car speeds as well as the better environment created for pedestrians and people riding bicycles – “specially children”.
Not surprisingly, the German Automobile Club (ADAC) opposes the policy.
From the article:
A spokesman for the Brussels-based European Cycling Federation, Julian Ferguson, says the magic formula in Europe for boosting cycling is to “slow cars down to 30 km/h and where speeds are above this, you need to have separate, segregated paths.” (See here for other possible explanations).
I think the 30 km/h limit is good advice. It’s consistent with the recommendations of Toronto medico, Dr David Mckeown, who says a 30 km/h limit on residential streets and a limit of 40 km/h on other roads would improve safety for cyclists and pedestrians.
He points out a pedestrian has only a 5% chance of dying if struck by a car travelling at 30 km/h. However the likelihood of dying rises to 85% if the car is doing 50 km/h.
So while dedicated infrastructure is highly desirable, the pragmatic thing to do is to put at least equal effort into the sorts of institutional changes that will enable cyclists and drivers to share road space as happily and safely as possible. However compromises are inevitable – a 30 km/h limit is probably only plausible in the inner suburbs at this time.
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