Radical Speed Limit: Swedish Cyclists Push for 20 km/h for Vehicles in Cities

Written by Jakob A. Overgaard

May.25 - 2024 8:34 PM CET

World
Photo: Shutterstock
Photo: Shutterstock
Swedish cyclists are pushing for a 20 km/h speed limit for vehicles in cities.

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The Swedish cyclist association, Cykelfrämjandet, has proposed a radical change to urban speed limits, suggesting that all motorists should be restricted to a maximum speed of 20 km/h in city areas.

This initiative is aimed at enhancing safety, particularly for children, by creating a more secure environment for cyclists.

Per Hasselberg, the chairman of Cykelfrämjandet, explained the rationale behind this proposal: “If the speed limit is 20 km/h, we can almost let children out in that environment. Then one feels safe.”

Although the association would accept a limit of 30 km/h, they strongly prefer the lower cap to ensure cyclists can travel faster than cars.

The push for lower speed limits is supported by data from the Swedish Transport Agency, which shows that the number of seriously injured or killed cyclists has not decreased over the past decade.

This is in contrast to the decline in serious accidents involving motorists. Additionally, statistics indicate that one in eight traffic fatalities involves a cyclist, despite the European Union’s efforts to promote cycling.

The proposal has ignited a debate between motorists and cyclists. Many drivers argue that such a low speed limit would lead to increased traffic congestion and frustration on the roads. However, advocates believe that the safety benefits significantly outweigh the potential drawbacks.

In a survey conducted among Danish motorists, cyclists were identified as the most dangerous road users, reflecting ongoing tensions between the two groups.

This sentiment is not unique to Denmark. In the UK, cyclists can now face severe penalties, including up to 14 years in prison, for dangerous cycling behavior.

Cykelfrämjandet’s proposal aligns with a broader European trend to prioritize cycling and pedestrian safety.

Several cities have already implemented lower speed limits in certain areas to protect vulnerable road users. For example, Paris recently reduced the speed limit on most of its streets to 30 km/h, a move aimed at reducing accidents and encouraging more people to cycle.

The success of such initiatives depends on various factors, including public acceptance and effective enforcement. Lowering speed limits can significantly reduce the severity of accidents and save lives, but it requires a cultural shift in how urban mobility is perceived.

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