There are low-speed zones in Germany, but it is very hard to introduce them , Source: Depositphotos

Over 260 German cities band together to demand 30 km/h speed zones

Over 260 German cities band together to demand 30 km/h speed zones

Currently, municipalities in Germany cannot issue their own maximum speed laws if the latter are below a certain threshold

Last year a number of German cities announced the creation of a new initiative that would advocate for more municipal rights to set speed limits. The founding cities were Aachen, Augsburg, Freiburg, Hanover, Leipzig, Münster and Ulm and with the creation of the organisation, they petitioned other German municipalities to join in.

The initiative is called Liveable cities through appropriate speeds (Lebenswerte Städte durch angemessene Geschwindigkeiten) and its members want the specific right to introduce more 30 km/h low-speed zones. One year later, the initiative has slowly been gaining traction and as of 12 August 2022, it has 263 municipalities.

What needs to change

The initiative’s main principle revolves around the idea that urban liveability and quality of life come from public spaces. These, however, are mentioned as squares, parks and streets, meaning that the interaction between motor traffic and pedestrian traffic is a key factor.

Low-speed zones, consequently, are a great tool to manage that interaction, with numerous examples from the EU. Studies have shown that they reduce noise pollution, carbon dioxide and nitrogen dioxide pollution and decrease the risk of fatal injuries.

However, municipalities do not have the right to introduce them and manage traffic as they see appropriate, based on local needs, demands or concerns. According to initiative organisers, the German Federal Government prohibits installing 30 km/h low-speed zones, unless there is a specific risk they address or they are in front of social facilities, like day-care centres and schools.

Specific demands of the initiative

A very important note for the initiative, according to its creators, is that it is not only about zones that have a max speed of 30 km/h. It is more about giving local authorities the right to set their own maximum speed limits, which in some cases may be 20 km/h and in others, 40 km/h.

Here are the initiative’s four demands, signed off on by mayors, city councillors responsible for mobility and urban development and urban planning departments:

  1. A commitment to a turnaround in mobility (away from personal vehicles and towards other means of transportation) and quality of life measures in cities.
  2. Tempo 30 for motor vehicle traffic, including on main roads, is an integral part of a sustainable, city-wide mobility concept and a strategy for upgrading public spaces.
  3. Petition the federal government to immediately create the legal prerequisites for municipalities to be able to order a maximum speed limit of 30 km/h where the municipalities deem necessary.
  4. A funding model for research projects to determine the individual aspects, benefits and effects of this regulation, to improve the application of this principle.



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