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07 Jul 2021, 13:15
Kerstine Appunn

German cities push for 30km/h speed limit and reform of road traffic law

Seven major German cities want to test 30 km/h speed limits on a large scale. While inner-town speeds are generally set at 50 km/h in Germany, the cities of Aachen, Augsburg, Freiburg im Breisgau, Hanover, Leipzig and Ulm want to make 30 km/h the standard speed with 50 km/h permitted only on arterial roads, according to the Association of German Cities. The trial announcement is a first step towards the objective of amending the federal road traffic law to give cities more flexibility when setting the rules of their local transport systems. "We want to make traffic in cities more efficient, more climate-friendly, and safer. To do this, we need more scope for decision-making at the local level,” the President of the German Association of Cities and Mayor of Leipzig, Burkhard Jung, said.

Lower speeds would not only reduce emissions but ensure greater safety and peace in public spaces, argued think tank Agora Verkehrswende and the Climate Neutrality Foundation who supported the move by the cities’ association. In future, it should be easier to calm traffic, manage parking space or establish bicycle lanes.

Ahead of general elections in September, speed limits on motorways have become a hotly debated issue between parties and chancellor candidates. While green and left-leaning parties regard it as a viable idea to reduce emissions, conservative and liberal parties see it as a typical case of exaggerated “prohibition” policy. However, all parties are pushed to present solutions for Germany’s transport sector which has been the most sluggish to reduce emissions in the past decades.

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