The city of Paris begins to adopt this Monday (30) the speed limit of 30 km/h for almost all streets. In addition to reducing the likelihood of traffic accidents and vehicle noise, the main backdrop for the measure is climate change mitigation.
The limit was already in place for nearly two-thirds of the streets in the French capital. With the expansion to most roads, now only a few roads have an upper limit. The decision was taken by Mayor Anne Hidalgo in early July.
On French radio RFI, deputy mayor David Belliard, also responsible for the Transport and Mobility portfolio, said that the change is aimed at “adapting the city to climate change, reducing the location of the car [na vida urbana]”. The trend gains weight in France, where around 200 cities have already opted to reduce the maximum speed on the main roads.
Among the rare exceptions of the new limit in Paris are the avenue Champs-Elysées, the most famous in the city, which continues with a limit of 50 km/h, and the Boulevard Périphérique, the 70 km ring road that separates the city from the suburbs. /H.
The Paris city government projects mobility gains with the measure, which can encourage walking, cycling and the use of public transport. Local authorities speak of a reduction of accidents of about 25%, reaching 40% in the case of serious and fatal occurrences. They also calculate that noise pollution will be cut in half. Those who exceed the limit of 30 km/h may receive a fine and have two points deducted from their driver’s license.
Before the reduction was adopted, a public consultation was held in the second half of 2020, in which 5,736 French people participated — 63% of whom were Parisians. The survey showed that 31% favored a general speed limit of 30 km/h, while 19% favored reducing speed depending on the road.
Despite the suggested popular support, the reduction of speed has been criticized by the opposition and by some categories, such as taxi drivers, who characterize Mayor Hidalgo as “anticars”. When re-elected in 2020, she vowed to build a more inclusive city and make every street in Paris bike-friendly.
During her first term, the socialist leader expanded bicycle paths, facilitated access to electric bicycles, gave free passes to children and a 50% discount for students over 12 years old.
But, under changes related to mobility in France, the ghost of the “yellow vests” movement still lingers, which emerged in 2018 against a new fuel tax and unfolded into broader demands that question the high cost of living in the country.
The measure started on Monday is part of a greater ambition of Paris for 2024, when the capital will host the Olympics. The objective is for the edition to print a positive and historical image of combating the climate crisis, with a focus on three main pillars: the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions, support for projects with a positive climate contribution and the mobilization for change implemented are long-lasting.
The new 30 km/h limit also comes in the wake of an ambitious package launched by the European Union in the second half of July. The project foresees, among other points, an increase in the use of clean energy —such as solar and wind energy—, incentives for the use of electric cars and a ban on the manufacture of combustion-powered cars as of 2035.
There are also controversial proposals, such as extra fees to import products manufactured without respecting environmental rules and the guidance to increase taxes on fuels such as diesel and gasoline.
The changes must be approved by the Parliament and the European Council, which brings together heads of state or government, which will require agreements between the 27 member countries and with European industry.