By Tyler Falk
Posting in Cities
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.
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
Feb 14, 2011
Cars play an essential role in society. But not everywhere! The sheer joy of window shopping on pedestrian-only streets, or sit outside cafes and restaurants watching the world go by at walking pace can't be beaten. City centres are not the place for cars. They're for people.
I agree with TAPhilo. In older US cities like Boston, there are some neighborhoods first designed for horses and pedestrians where this would work great.
I live in Montreal and starting from last year, the same limit of 30 km is set in certain district. No one seems to mind.
What about the French people who have indulged in too much wine? I think a car driving at 19 MPH can do a lot of damage to someone crawling across the street.
Not everything on two wheels has pedals. I can see this working well for scooters and small motorcycles too. A workable compromise that still saves fuel and allows for efficient transport. However, riding at 19 mph (30 kph?) will be a challenge for many riders and offer no additional fuel savings, unless they walk.
Wait, "less than half of the city?s residents don?t drive." So most people drive? Or is that not a double negative?
The logic is simple. In a traditional "old style" city cars are given 90% of the road space (though the drivers may be only 10% of the people moving around). It was literally that in London till the 80s. Since the cars also produce most of the danger, delays - no jay walking, wait for the green man - noise and pollution, just maybe they should be reined in for everybody else's sake.
Oh yes, at 18 MPH it will greatly discourage drivers from driving through the city, it will be faster for them to hit the ring road and drive around - even if more fuel is used - than to drive through with all the bikes, pedastrians, and traffic lights.
Very easy to do in a city designed and built when the fastest mode was a horse. No grid layout, no teardown and buildings to build express roads through the city (like in the USA, or under like in Boston), so easy since most people there really do walk since it was designed to have everything locally. The main square where Strasburg church is at is very nice - designed that way hundreds of years ago for markets. Nicely decorate church too in the main square.
Tyler doesn't offer any explanation or evidence of that. As a pedestrian, I want the shortest and easiest possible path to my destination, not one that requires a lot of extra turns. I assume he's only saying that it's a paradise for pedestrians because there are fewer cars there to share the road with.