Paris, April 2013 – Throughout Europe, environmentalists, safety campaigners and community organisations have come together to encourage one million European citizens to sign a petition that could see a Europe-wide 30km/h speed limit in residential areas.
A manifesto has been co-written by multiple organisations, including the French associations ‘Rue de l’Avenir’, ‘France Autopartage’, ‘les Droits des Piétons’ (pedestrians’ rights), la Fédération des conseils de parents d’élèves (the French federation of schoolchildren’s parents, FCPE), la Fédération française des usagers de la bicyclette (French federation of bicycle users, FUB), and the Fédération nationale des associations d’usagers des transports (French federation of public transport users, FNAUT).
The call for a continental standard speed limit of 30km/h is being proposed as an inexpensive way to reduce pollution and the EU dependency on oil whilst encouraging more sustainable travel choices such as cycling, walking and public transport. It is also being promoted as a means to increase road safety and reduce the 31,000 annual deaths on Europe’s roads. Indeed, a pedestrian hit by a car travelling at 50km/h is nine times more likely to die than if the car travels at 30km/h.
Professor Dr. Hermann Knoflacher, Director of the Institute for Transport Planning and Engineering of Vienna, Austria, and ambassador of the initiative, claims that there are also physical and biological arguments for the 30km speed limit. “The perception and sensory awareness of human beings were not designed for a speed beyond 30km/h,” he says.
The first 30km/h zone was established as a pilot project in the German town of Buxtehude, near Hamburg, in 1983. Many towns have since followed suit, amongst them Graz (Austria), Zollikon (Switzerland), Fontenay aux Roses (France) and Nogent sur Marne (France). In France, Toulouse, Paris and Strasbourg are currently extending their 30km zones.
“30km/h – making streets liveable” is one of the first proposals registered as a European Citizens’ Initiative, one of the key features of the Lisbon Treaty, which aims to promote democracy and direct citizen participation in transnational policy-making through giving citizens the right to influence European legislation and launch their own proposals in any area of EU law.
Organisers have until November to gather one million signatures from voting EU citizens from more than seven member states, after which the organisers will present their case and receive a formal response from the European Commission.
To sign the petition : http://fr.30kmh.eu/
For more information on the European Citizens’ initiative http://ec.europa.eu/citizens-initiative/public/guide
For updates and news on the initiative : www.ville30.org