City officials proposed reducing the speed limit within Paris to 30 kilometers per hour — about 19 mph — in order to curb pollution emissions and traffic accidents.
Le Parisien, according to an unofficial translation, reported that the plan was adopted last week and noted that a third of streets in Paris — called “eco-quarters” — are already adhering to a 30 kph limit, or 20 kph in some areas. Exceptions to this new speed limit rule would be a couple major roadways in and out of the city.
Fast CoDesign reported that other European cities have adopted such a “traffic-calming measure,” but Paris would be one of the largest cities to try it.
Previous studies conducted in cities with slower speed limits showed a reduction in accidents and injuries, but what would it do to traffic movement and volume overall?
Fast CoDesign pointed to a study from the Accident Research Center at Monash University, which found slower speeds “may actually reduce overall travel time by allowing a more harmonic traffic rhythm.”
A study by the European Environment Agency found that reducing speed limits cuts fuel consumption and emissions:
Based on a simulation, cutting motorway speed limits from 120 to 110 km/h could deliver fuel savings for current technology passenger cars of 12–18 percent, assuming smooth driving and 100 percent compliance with speed limits. However, relaxing these assumptions to a more realistic setting implies a saving of just 2–3 percent.
Significant fuel savings can be achieved by encouraging drivers to maintain a consistent speed and restrict their speed (eco-driving), including through effective enforcement of speed limits.
These findings, though, applied to higher speeds than those proposed in Paris city limits. The study said data about cutting a speed limit from 50 kpm to 30 kpm was less clear in the way of any energy and emission benefits.
Earlier this year, lawmakers proposed lowering the speed limit in New York City from 30 mph to 20 mph, but residents met the idea with mixed reactions.
“There’s a lot of times when you are walking on a crosswalk and somebody just about hits you, so making it a little slower doesn’t mean everybody’s going to drive 20 mph but it might mean some people will and it might help,” Brendan O’Brien told WCBS-TV.
“Nobody is going to be doing 20 mph, so it’s just going to be for people getting a lot of tickets. I think that’s the only thing it’s going to accomplish,” another resident told the news station.
Front page image via Shutterstock.