German Environment Agency called for a revision of country’s speed limit laws, suggesting that the top speed in urban areas should be restricted to 30 kilometers per hour (20 mph) in order to reduce accidents and pollution as well. The suggestion was heavily criticized and satirized by both German officials and drivers and will probably be rejected.
As Maria Krautzberger, the head of the Agency, explained last week, the idea behind this strategy, called “Cities of tomorrow” is to build a legal and infrastructural frame which would enable and help cities grow and expand by using new eco-friendly and safe technologies. “This strategy would not only help preserve the environment, but also reduce the number of accidents in Germany”.
Krautzberger points out that several studies suggest that lowering the speed limit could actually help maintain a good traffic flow, since lower speed could lead to less accidents and conflict points, which in turn would speed up the average speed.
However, her colleagues at the German Federal Ministry of Transport and Digital Infrastructure disagree. They explain that such a measure would greatly slow down traffic and lead to unnecessary gridlocks, buildups and traffic jams and that they see no need for such a radical solution, since most local municipalities already have the autonomy and means to enforce “slow traffic zones” in areas they deem unsafe or inappropriate for high speeds.
They also pointed out that “although driving at lower speed and uniformly reduces fuel (and thus air) consumption, it is not only a question of how fast are you going, but also how you handle your car. A car that drives at the average speed of 30 kph but breaks and accelerates frequently, burns as much fuel as a car constantly driving at 50 kph with an optimum RPM(revolutions per minute) rate.”
The idea was also rejected and ridiculed by the public and political figures. Several automobile clubs and expressed their disagreement with the controversial proposition. “This is Germany! We built the first car and the first autobahn, and now someone wants to take that away from us! What is next, an idea that everyone should ride bicycles!?”, said one of the protesters.
The Environment agency also proposed that automobile manufacturers should be held to a minimum electric vehicle (EV) quota, in order to promote clean technologies and reduce air pollution. “Without such an EV quota, the country won’t achieve its climate agreement targets”, Krautzberger told in an interview for German newspaper Die Zelt.
Krautzberger stated that the Agency’s goal is to get at least 12 million or so of Germany’s 46 million registered cars to be electric by the year of 2030. Right now, this figure stands at around 25,000 and is steadily increasing each year, but not as fast as it was once predicted.