30 Km/hr in your city? Who cares?

A great many people apparently, to judge by the reaction to our yesterday’s World Street posting on the decision of the city of Paris to limit virtually all traffic in the city to a top speed of 30 km/hr. That article literally blew the lid off of the normal reader reaction to postings here, which commonly run in the hundreds at most in the several days immediately following publication. In this case we were deluged by more than three thousand readers who checked in from more than 50 countries to see what all this is about. Here you have a map of the showing where the  last 80 of these readers came from:

map ws 22may14

What importance can we give to this one event which until now  has by and large escaped the attention of the international media ( they will come, you will see)?  Here are a couple of quick reflections:

  • The concept of such a rigorous speed limit  in cities and built up areas has been around for a long time  (the English  call it “20 is plenty” ).
  • In situations where it has been practiced there is a considerable amount of data  showing the advantages that  incur to the city and its residents .
  • A small but solid coterie of supporting civil society and activist groups  has continued to keep this approach  alive.
  • But  for one reason or another it has for the most part been kept in the wings  when it comes to major policy decisions — leaving center stage to more “moderate” approaches.

So, to summarize: (a) it works, (b) it gets measurable and appreciable positive results, however (c) until now with very few exceptions it has only been adopted on a piecemeal ad hoc basis. If more than 20 years ago the city of Graz in Austria lead the way and  proved the principles of a city-wide 30 km/hr policy, whose good sense has since been confirmed year after year, somehow  this was not sufficient to convince large numbers in cities  to look at this as anything other than  a curious Austrian exception.

But now Paris has stepped up to the place and while we can be sure that  they will face considerable, even ferocious resistance from many quarters, knowing the team behind it I am sure that it will move head and provide an example of inspiration for us all.  Just as they did in  2007 when they flooded an unprecedented number of 20,000 public bicycles on the streets for all to use, while at the same time closing off a major traffic artery running along the river into a sandy beach with palm trees (Paris Plage).

What’s the point?

More than four thousand readers from all continents. What might that mean? Simple curiosity or something more. I would say the latter.

At this point the only question I have is: what is going to be the next city to do this ? And then the next city after that?  And the next? My guess is that we are  on the brink of entering into a new age of cars, and speed, and choices in cities.  So let us thank Madame Anne Hidalgo,  the Mayor of Paris, and all those behind this project  for showing the way. Merci!

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eb-abount the editor - 26may14 white



7 thoughts on “30 Km/hr in your city? Who cares?

    • That is a good question Juan, and it points up a limitation of our software which is capable of reporting only the last 80 entries at any point in time. In fact over the course of the full day hits from Spain number of them in about the 15th position overall; it is just that that particular snapshot did not pick them up. Another bit of software picked up entries from Madrid, Bilbao, Valencia, Barcelona and Vitoria. Since I have had the pleasure of working on a number of occasions in Spain over the years, it is very rewarding to see the high interest in an idea of which certainly will work in your cities.

  1. Pingback: The Outward March of Sprawl Eats Away at Indianapolis | Streetsblog.net

  2. A very exciting idea! I’d love to learn more detail about the “measurable and appreciable positive results”. I’ll look myself, but maybe you could provide a link or two? Thanks for your excellent blog!

  3. Eric, thanks for the interesting article and I am happy to see the lots of entries from Poland – I forwarded your article to some people who sent it further or posted it on Facebook and so it won lots of interest. Keep on writing!

  4. Pingback: ¿30 Km/hr en la Ciudad?, ¿A Quien le Importa? | SalvoLomas

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