This week, a Swiss organisation focused on urban transport with 20 members, announced its support for city-wide 30 km/h speed limits, a limit significantly lower than the current standard limit of 50 km/h in urban areas.
On 16 May 2023, the organisation, which brings together 20 towns, ranging from Zurich (the largest) to Chiasso (the smallest), published its position on 30 km/h speed limits. It concluded that lower speeds cut noise, improve safety, reduce road use and tilt the balance in favour of public transport.
It said that while antinoise barriers help with noise pollution, noise must be reduced at its source. A number of urban building projects involving renovation and new construction are blocked because of concerns over road noise pollution. 30 km/h limits are the simplest and cheapest way reduce this issue, it said. Building more housing in urban areas will increase urban populations and save the countryside from further construction, something consistent rules introduced in 2013 to limit building in the countryside.
In addition, by reducing the number of cars on roads, there will be more space for public transport, walking, cycling and vegetation, argues the association. Cutting speeds to 30 km/h also reduces the severity of accidents.
However, the public may not agree. A recent survey by TCS, a drivers’ association, showed a majority were in favour of a mix of speed limits in cities rather than city-wide limits of 30 km/h, reported RTS. The solution proposed by TCS is a mix of 50 km/h and 30 km/h limits depending on the area. The TCS survey, which covered residents from 10 cities in February 2023, found 66% of respondents were against city-wide 30 km/h speed limits.
While city representatives and planners of 20 of Switzerland’s main towns seem to agree on blanket 30 km/h speed limits in cities, a majority of residents appear to remain unconvinced.