Municipalities in Germany are unable to issue their own maximum speed laws, impacting the success of liveable city initiatives.
In 2021, 7 German cities announced a new initiative, advocating for the right of municipalities to set their own speed limits. Since the founding cities of Aachen, Augsburg, Freiburg, Hanover, Leipzig, Münster, and Ulm sparked the conversation, 263 municipalities have declared their support.
The ‘Liveable cities through appropriate speeds’ initiative focuses on the central right to enact 30km/h low-speed zones. The basis for this rests on the idea that liveability and quality of life are closely associated with public spaces and the interaction between motor and pedestrian traffic in these areas. Low-speed zones have been shown to reduce noise pollution, carbon dioxide, and nitrogen dioxide pollution and decrease the risk of fatal injuries in the areas they are enacted.
The initiative’s four demands, signed off by mayors, city councilors responsible for mobility and urban development, and urban planning departments are:
A commitment to a turnaround in mobility (away from personal vehicles and towards other means of transportation) and quality of life measures in cities.
A 30km/h speed for motor vehicle traffic, including on main roads, is an integral part of a sustainable, city-wide mobility concept and a strategy for upgrading public spaces.
Petition the federal government to immediately create the legal prerequisites for municipalities to be able to order a maximum speed limit of 30 km/h where the municipalities deem necessary.
A funding model for research projects to determine the individual aspects, benefits, and effects of this regulation, to improve the application of this principle.