Sign of 30km/h tempo limit zone in city district of Mittelberg, Stadt Biberach, Upper Swabia, Baden-Wuerttemberg, Germany, Europe. Photo Credit: Siegfried Kramer/Getty Images

Society Europe4. July 2024

Cities Find That Driving Slower Is Better for People and the Climate

Across Europe, many cities have undertaken initiatives to reduce the speed limit to 30 kilometres per hour, making streets safer, improving the quality of life in urban areas, and promoting active mobility.

“We’re in a climate emergency,” states Christian Tuerr, who started a citizens’ initiative in Bregenz, Austria. “We have to make cities more livable, so people don’t have to move to the countryside just to have some peace and quiet and then commute to town. The quality of life needs to increase right here, in these densely populated areas, so that people only have short distances to cover and this madness, this constant driving back and forth, can stop.”

The initiatives take many names – Tempo 30 in German-speaking countries, City 30 across Europe, Love30 by the World Health Organization, 20’s Plenty in the UK and the US (where the speed limit is determined in miles per hour) – but share the common goal of reducing the residential speed limit. While cities have been increasingly implementing this in just the past few years, the inspiration comes from Graz, Austria, which implemented the 30-kilometer speed limit in 1992 on 80% of its road network. After extensive studies, it has been proven that the noise and the emissions levels dropped, and the average speed was only reduced by 0.5 kilometres per hour due to a smoother traffic flow. Lowering speed limits improves the quality of life in urban areas, promoting active mobility and reducing people’s dependence on cars for short-range journeys.

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