Cutting red tape so that German cities can cut speed limits

The safety of children in and around our urban streets will forever remain an area of concern for local authorities.

And if road safety campaigners in Germany get their way then city leaders across the country may soon be able to see a way past red tape stopping them cutting speed limits without unnecessary delays.

The Lebenswerte Städte durch angemessene Geschwindigkeiten campaign – Liveable cities need reasonable speeds – is calling on the federal government to change the law in order to let local authorities introduce 30 km/h speed limits more easily.

Current road traffic laws in Germany ascribe narrow limits for city and municipal authorities, which in practice only allows speed limits to be changed when specific hazards are shown. This could, for instance, be a school crossing, or it can only be changed for certain road sections, not whole zones.

‘This is about quality of life in our cities’

Berlin, the capital, is one of the latest cities – adding to the 100+ already invovled – to sign up to this campaign, which was launched in July last year in the cities of Aachen, Augsburg, Freiburg, Hanover, Leipzig, Münster and Ulm.

Other towns and cities who have recently gotten on board are Westhausen, Homburg. Hammersbach, Alsbach-Hähnlein. Markt Hösbach, Markt Türkheim, Menden and Mettingen. While the governing coalition in Germany included a reference to such a legal change in its coalition agreement, little has happened since, yet campaigners remain confident that this movement can bring about real change.

Thomas Dieberg, Mayor of Leipzig and spokesman for the campaign, said: “The rapid growth of the initiative and its non-partisan character show the urgency of the matter… this is about quality of life in our cities and not about transport policy ideology.”

Frauke Burgdorff, City Planning Officer of the city of Aachen and also spokesperson for the city initiative, added: “Lower speeds…can make a significant contribution to achieving urban planning, traffic and environmental goals…and a city worth living in.”

Author: Simon Weedy

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