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Councillors want to slow down the 30 km/h speed limit on important traffic routes in urban areas

Every road has its function and its speed limit: Parliament is calling for the Road Traffic Act to be amended to make it more difficult to introduce a 30 km/h speed limit on major roads in urban areas. The Association of Towns and Cities reacts with incomprehension.

On Wednesday, the Council of States passed a motion by Lucerne FDP National Councillor Peter Schilliger by 25 votes to 15, with 3 abstentions. It calls for the "hierarchy of the road network" and the functions of roads in urban and rural areas to be respected. This also applies to speed limits.

Problems for SMEs in town centers

The required new provisions in the Road Traffic Act should differentiate the functions of the various roads and also the corresponding speed limits. Schilliger mentions a speed limit of 50 km/h on traffic-oriented roads in built-up areas and the possibility of 30 km/h on residential roads.

Thierry Burkart (FDP/AG) said on behalf of the Transport Commission (KVF-S) that, in principle, speed regulations are a matter for the federal government. In exceptional cases, however, municipalities could issue regulations, for example for school buildings or to protect against noise. According to the motion, it would be more difficult to introduce 30 km/h on important axes, said Burkart.

Andrea Gmür-Schönenberger (centre/LU) pointed out that a virtually comprehensive 30 km/h speed limit on important axes could lead to more traffic in residential areas. Fabio Regazzi (centre/TI) pointed out problems for companies and emergency services. Delivery times would be extended and businesses would be pushed out of city centers.

Fewer accidents at 30 km/h

It is not a chaotic development if the speed limit is reduced from 50 to 30 kilometers per hour on a stretch of road, replied Baptiste Hurni (SP/NE) on behalf of the minority. There was no need for action, the current legislation was clear.

And it is about public safety: figures show that there are fewer accidents and fewer serious injuries in 30 km/h zones. Mathias Zopfi (Greens/GL) argued for pragmatism and against centralized regulation by the federal government.

The Federal Council is against the motion. What it demands is currently regulated at ordinance level and would now have to be written into law, said Transport Minister Albert Rösti. If a 30 km/h speed limit were to be introduced on important roads, this could currently only be done on the basis of an expert opinion. The motion would not bring about any change.

The Federal Council simplified the introduction of 30 km/h on residential roads - on side roads and in residential areas - from the beginning of 2023. Since then, an expert opinion is no longer required.

Lack of understanding from the Association of Cities

According to the federal government, traffic-oriented roads are those traffic axes that are primarily designed to meet the requirements of motor vehicle traffic and are intended for efficient traffic management. They should enable safe, efficient and economical transportation.

In a press release, the Association of Towns and Cities expressed its incomprehension at the council's decision. It argued that this would endanger the safety of children and senior citizens. It is incomprehensible why municipal autonomy should be curtailed in this case.

The functionality of the road network would not be weakened by the introduction of a 30 km/h speed limit. Studies have shown that there is no traffic diversion on neighborhood streets. And if this is the case, the municipalities can counteract this with structural measures or one-way streets.

©Keystone/SDA

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