FOR MEMBERS

These parts of Switzerland are set to introduce a 30km/h speed limit

A sign indicating a speed limit of 30km/h
The majority of Swiss cities are set to introduce a speed limit of 30km/h on all urban roads. Photo by Yassine Khalfalli on Unsplash
Almost all major Swiss cities are set to introduce speed limits of 30km/h in the coming decade. Here are the plans - and whether it’s likely to happen.

In December 2021, the magistrate in Zurich, Switzerland’s largest canton, announced that by 2030, a speed limit of 30km/h would be introduced on almost all the city’s roads. 

Currently, there is a maximum of 50km/h across the cities roads, but within a decade the limit will be capped at 30km/h in built up areas. 

Zurich however is not the only city, town or village to put in place such rules. Several others have already started rolling out expanded 30km/h zones, while more are planned across the country. 

Which Swiss cities are set to follow suit? 

Lausanne has already put a 30km/h cap into effect, while in Bern around two-thirds of the roads have speed limits at or lower than 30km/h. 

30km/h zones are the majority and are being expanded in Basel and Lucerne, while similar plans are in place in Geneva, Freibourg and St Gallen. 

As The Local reported in 2021, the city of Winterthur, also in the canton of Zurich, would be putting in place limits of 30km/h on all urban roads. 

Additionally, the limit would be further reduced to 20km/h in certain residential areas. The changes will be introduced gradually, with the speed limit set to be reduced to 30km/h in busy areas like the old town and district centres by 2025. 

The reduction in speed limits is part of a broader trend sweeping Europe, with both the European Union (EU) and the World Health Organisation (WHO) advocating lower speed limits in cities.

Several Austrian cities have put in place lower limits decades ago, while a 30km/h zone has been in force in Oslo since 2019. 

In 2021, Barcelona, Paris, Brussels, Antwerp, Hanover, Dublin, Rome, Florence, Pisa, Bologna, Amsterdam and London have also put 30km/h speed limits into force. 

Why are speed limits being introduced?

Authorities want to cap speed limits at 30km/h to make streets safer, more pedestrian friendly and to reduce both pollution and noise. 

Barcelona mayor Ada Colau’s citywide efforts to reduce speed limits have been primarily motivated by improving air quality, Swiss tabloid Blick reports. 

Furthermore, reducing the speed limit from 50km/h to 30km/h improves noise by three decibels. 

Tests show that cars travelling at speeds of 50km/h need 27 metres to stop, compared to 13 metres at 30km/h. 

By reducing danger, many urban zones will become more pedestrian friendly as well as encouraging other modes of transport like cycling. 

The 30km/h limit will also apply to cyclists, although it’s a lot harder to get past 30km/h on a bike as it appears. 

Will the efforts to introduce the limits be successful?

Unsurprisingly, the reductions have attracted significant criticism. 

Several automotive associations have come out against a general change, including the Touring Club Switzerland (TCS), the public transport information service (Litra), the Swiss Trade Association (SGV) and the Swiss Fire Brigade Association (SFV). 

Litra says public transport could become less attractive if buses were slower, while the SFV warned emergency vehicles could be slowed on the way to urgent interventions (not by the speed limit, but by other traffic adhering to the new limit). 

SGV president Fabio Regazzi warned the changes “will inevitably lead to longer delivery times for local shops and to traffic jams.”

The population also tends to be against the changes, with roughly two thirds opposing a general requirement in a December poll by Swiss tabloid Blick. 

The opposition of the population may however mean little, at least for the meantime, if Lausanne’s example is to be followed. 

Before Lausanne introduced a citywide 30km/h limit, 55 percent of the population opposed and only 38 percent supported it.

What happens if I exceed the limit?

As with all speed limits, they are set to be enforced with fines. While the fines don’t change with the introduction of the 30km/h speed limit, the fines are levied by how much you exceed the limit. 

Up to five kilometres over the limit will net you a fine of CHF40, which rises to CHF120 from five to ten kilometres over the limit. 

Up to 15ks will be CHF250. Over that amount, and higher penalties including criminal charges may be levied. 

EXPLAINED: What you should know about speeding fines in Switzerland


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