Paris is rehearsing the traffic turnaround: the metropolis is largely becoming a 30 km / h zone


For Paris it is a further step towards a traffic turnaround and a city life in which the car no longer dominates everywhere. Large parts of the French capital will become a 30 km / h zone from this Monday, the city motorway and important traffic axes will remain excluded. 59 percent of Parisians would have agreed to a speed limit in a survey, the city administration justified the move. 25 percent fewer accidents, twice less noise and more space, especially for cyclists, are the arguments in favor of the cut. On 60 percent of the streets the speed limit was 30 anyway, it was said.

The new speed limit is just one of a number of measures to contain the car avalanches in Paris, which a visitor immediately catches the eye. Many roads are currently being built – not to create additional lanes for cars, but for cyclists. 52 kilometers of so-called pop-up cycle paths, which were separated from the car lanes with concrete blocks during the corona pandemic, also known as “Coronapistes”, are currently being converted into permanent cycle lanes. Since the lockdown, the Parisians have made seven percent of their journeys by bike, before the pandemic it was five, the city said.

In other streets, cars have to give way completely to pedestrians, public meeting areas and bicycle parking spaces are being created, and trees and gardens are being planted. All of this fits into a plan presented in 2018, which promised the metropolis a deep breath with more urban greenery, 1000 kilometers of cycle paths and new tram lines. The engine behind a lot is Mayor Anne Hidalgo, who has declared war on cars and air pollution. If the air is poor, traffic is restricted, and pollutant stickers for cars are compulsory. Some streets are closed to traffic – for example the right bank of the Seine – instead a promenade has been created there.

However, the speed limit in Paris does not remain without criticism: In the survey, residents of the greater Paris area were also asked who cannot all get to their destination immediately by metro. 61 percent of them spoke out against the measure. And the association of motorists “40 millions d’automobilistes” doubts the purpose of the measure. In any case, there are few accidents in Paris, and when they do, it is mostly cyclists who are affected, said Union delegate Pierre Chasseray of the newspaper “Le Figaro”. And the traffic noise is caused by the car tires and not the engines, less speed hardly helps.

Resistance threatens also with further already announced measures in Paris. From the beginning of next year, for the first time, motorcycles and the scooters popular in the metropolis will also pay parking fees, with the exception of e-motorcycles. And plans to turn many streets into pedestrian zones in the heart of Paris are pissing merchants and residents alike. The plans are now likely to be postponed until 2023, wrote the newspaper Le Parisien recently.

Incidentally, hundreds of new Tempo 30 signs did not have to be screwed to every street corner in Paris for the new speed limit. On the access roads into the city, the new, large-scale regulation is pointed out once, that was sufficient, said the Interior Minister at the time in 2019. Paris in France is not a pioneer with the city-wide speed limit: the cities of Lille and Grenoble had already lowered the speed. The bicycle club ADFC sees the French capital as a model for similar regulations in Germany.

In France, a speed limit of 30 or even a general speed limit of 30 km / h have now been set up in more than 200 cities. Initial findings indicate that the number of accidents at these locations has decreased by up to 70 percent.

“Tempo 30 relaxes life in cities, it makes them safer, more climate-friendly and quieter,” said ADFC Federal Managing Director Ann-Kathrin Schneider. “As in Paris and other European metropolises, it should also be possible in German cities to introduce Tempo 30 in urban areas as the standard speed.” Tempo 50 could then be maintained on main traffic axes, where there are already wide cycle paths. “Paris will flourish at 30 km / h, and so should German cities.”

In Germany, too, there are several projects with which Tempo 30 should be explored over a large area. As a project for residents, around seven major German cities are testing this speed limit on a large scale. Only on a few larger arterial roads should the previous inner-city restriction continue to apply. Spain is even going a lot further and introducing Tempo 30 for traffic in urban areas.


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