The number of 30 km/hour speed zones is rising in Swiss cities and towns. Some are considering plans such as making 30 km/hour zones standard and 50 km/hour zones an exception. However, a recent poll suggests 84% of the population supports the current system of a 50 km/hour standard limit, with exceptions for 30 km/hour zones.
The results of a recent poll done by LINK between 1 and 7 December 2021 on behalf of Touring Club Switzerland (TCS) are consistent with the results of a referendum on the subject in 2001. The 2001 initiative aimed to impose a blanket speed limit of 30 km/hour on towns and cities with a possibility to apply for exemptions on certain routes. The plan was rejected by 80% of Swiss voters. Majorities in all cantons rejected it. In Basel-City, the canton closest to accepting it, only 36% were in favour of it.
The main arguments in favour of blanket 30 km/hour speed limits are reduced noise, less severe accidents, especially those involving pedestrians, and reduced pollution.
On 7 September 2021, Lausanne introduced a 30 km/hour night time (22:00 to 6:00) speed limit across much of the city. The initiative, focused on reducing noise, covered 60 km of roads passing by around 33,000 residents.
However, not everyone favours such measures, disapproving of their broad-brush nature. Peter Goetschi, the president of TCS, broadly accepts the arguments in favour of these limits but strongly believes in a differentiated approach. Goetschi believes that each kind of road has a specific function that must be taken into account to ensure the whole network functions properly. Main trunk roads must remain at 50 km/hour, with scope to reduce speeds on feeder and neighbourhood roads to 30 km/hour or even 20 km/hour in pick up and drop off zones, he said.
Other arguments against reducing city-wide speeds to 30 km/hour come from public transport advocates and emergency services. Martin Candinas, the president of LITRA, an organisation that promotes the use of public transport, thinks it would reduce the appeal of trams and buses. In addition, fire service volunteers say they won’t be able to get to fire stations as fast. And with trunk roads limited to 30 km/hour there is a risk cars will fan out into quieter residential areas in search of lighter traffic and shortcuts, argue some.
In the survey, nearly 68% said they were against city-wide 30 km/hour zones. The percentage rose to 71% in rural areas. Restricting speeds to 30 km/hour at night was unpopular too, with 38% supporting it versus 55% against it. Instead, a large majority (73%) supported the TCS’s differentiated approach which reserves 30 km/hour zones for non-trunk and neighbourhood roads. 73% of both urban and rural respondents supported such an approach.
Retaining the current system of a general speed limit of 50 km/hour with 30 km/hour exceptions was supported by 84% of those surveyed, with slightly more support in rural areas (87%) than in cities and towns (84%). The results were fairly similar across all of Switzerland.
The survey questioned 1,163 residents aged 15 to 79 across Switzerland between 1 and 7 December 2021.