Solving Cities

19 MPH is too fast in bike-friendly French city

19 MPH is too fast in bike-friendly French city

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To encourage more bikes and pedestrians, one French city wants to lower its speed limit to 18 MPH.

Strasbourg, a city in north-eastern France, is sending a clear message that the car doesn't rule its city. To increase the safety of bikers and pedestrians, Strasbourg is proposing to reduce its speed limit to 30 kilometers (18 miles) per hour throughout the city.

The city's mayor wants to make sure all forms of transportation have the ability to get around. Treehugger quotes the mayor:

The public roads no longer belong to automobiles alone. They must be reimagined to be redistributed in a fairer manner between all forms of transportation. The protection of the most vulnerable is thus reinforced in zones in which all users have access but in which the pedestrian is king.

Strasbourg's bike and pedestrian-friendly street grid.

Not that it's easy for cars to speed through the city. Strasbourg uses a urban design technique known as "filtered permeability" which makes streets more attractive to pedestrians and bikers and less attractive to cars. Rather than building arterial streets that run through the city, the city is designed with irregular, discontinuous streets -- a nightmare for drivers, paradise for pedestrians.

It's no surprise, then, that less than half of the city's residents drive. And, according to Treehugger, the city has more than 300 miles of bike lanes and one of the longest and densest tramway networks in France.

And, no, the city isn't using government control impose its will on its residents. The proposed 18 MPH speed limit law will be up for a vote in May.

Photo 1: Brisan/Flickr

Photo 2: UrbanGrammar/Flickr

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Tyler Falk

Contributing Editor

Tyler Falk is a freelance journalist based in Washington, D.C. Previously, he was with Smart Growth America and Grist. He holds a degree from Goshen College. Follow him on Twitter. Disclosure