08 May 2010

Copenhagen's 40 km/h Zones Stopped by Police

There was a record low number of traffic fatalities in Copenhagen in 2009. Five people lost their lives, compared to 16 in 2008. Right off the bat I'll say that apart from being wonderful news, such stats are tricky. 2006 was the best year ever for fewest traffic fatalities in Denmark but there was nothing special about that year. These stats rise and fall seemingly without logic. There are, however, many good things that can be done.

The current municipal government, including the Mayor in charge of the traffic department, Bo Asmus Kjeldgaard, has bounced around the idea about lowering the speed limit to 40 km/h in Copenhagen.

(It's a great step in the right direction, but I don't actually understand why the 30 km/h zones we're seeing all over Europe aren't on the table. There are amazing safety results from all the cities that have implemented them. I guess Bo Asmus didn't see my Christmas wish list from last year.)

But hey... let's just concentrate on the 40 km/h zone for now. It's a good start.

BUT! It turns out that the police are standing in the way of this progress. Bo Asmus (on the left) has expressed in the press here in Denmark that the Copenhagen Police (police chief Johan Reimann on the right) are playing the antagonist.

Bo Asmus and the Lord Mayor Frank Jensen recently met with the police with the 40 km/h zone proposal and left with a 'no' from the coppers.

"I think that the police are acting like a political unit. It should be the City's decision", said Bo Asmus Kjeldgaard.

Police Chief Johan Reimann doesn't think there are legal grounds for a 40 km/h zone in the entire city. Perhaps he should get out more. There are enough cities around Europe to use as inspiration. Not only for the safety statistics but also for the legal aspect.

Oh... and did I mention 30 km/h zones? Here's some previous articles about them. This one is particularly informative.
Via: Politiken newspaper


l' homme au velo said...

In Dublin we got a 30km/h Limit at last a couple of Months ago in spite of Rampant Opposition from the Car Lobby and this also included some City Councillors who are pro Car.

The Cyclist ,Pedestrian,Blind Organisaton and Childrens Organisations fought them Tooth and Nail to have it kept.

This is only in the Central City Core but it is a great Initiative and it is already doing a great Job of saving Peoples Lives.

Now the Council is trying to get it extended together with Contaflow Sysytems for Cyclists so that they can go directly to their destinations without Diversions like it is at the moment.

Guess what the same People are protesting against it.

I would like to see a 30km/h Limit throughout the entire City and a lot more Traffic free areas.

But I would settle for a 40km/h in most areas and the Inner core to remain at 30km/h.

Kevin Love said...

The 30 km/hr zones in Toronto work very well. So do the car-free zones.

Toronto has North America's largest car-free urban zone.

Corine said...

Hereby a recent example of a 30 km zone discussion in Amsterdam. Just to show how complicated this can be in a city that claims to be a “bicycle city”. Last month it was decided that the Marnixstraat - an important, but also dangerous route for cyclists, situated near the inner city, will after 30 years (!) of discussion, be reconstructed, to improve road safety. It will however not become a 30 km zone, which was requested by the Council of the Urban district Centrum (responsible for this street). This request followed shortly after a fatal accident in June 2009, whereby the 12 year old Boris Kouwen was killed. In the correspondence pro and contra a 30 km zone, it was stated that the Amsterdam police does not, by definition, control 30 km speed limits in 30 km zones. So it is argued that 30 km zones can only be effective in streets, which by their physical lay out make higher speeds unattractive or impossible; just a 30 km traffic sign would not help (which is correct I think, knowing how the traffic behaves here). Another argument against a 30 km zone was that it would harm public transport (trams and buses frequently use this street and claim they need a 50 km speed for demands of mobility). Exploitation losses of a 30 km zone, was said, are estimated on 1.5 million euro (??). Finally, a 30 km zone apparently would imply the removal of all car parking spaces from the street; it was stated that many people would not be happy with that (I think this is right, if no alternative is offered) Instead of a 30 km zone, the street will now be reconstructed, remaining a 50 km area, but with separate bicycle lanes. This means anyway that after 30 years of talking about the dangerous traffic situation, finally at least something is done about it.

Anonymous said...

Here in Graz/Austria we have 30km/h, except on major streets. That's great for cyclists.

Kevin Love said...

What's with the police officers in Copenhagen and Amsterdam that refuse to uphold and enforce the law?

Rest assured that any police officer in Toronto that refused to uphold and enforce the law would find himself immediately unemployed.

If the Copenhagen Police Chief Johan Reimann doesn't want to enforce a 40 km/hr zone, then he should be immediately sacked and replaced with someone who is ready to uphold and enforce the law.

http://abebedorespgondufo.blogs.sapo.pt/ said...

Very Good.

Anonymous said...

Excuse me? Are we talking Toronto, Ontario, Canada? The city I live in? There are not many 30 km/hr zones that I live in and even if they were, drivers routinely ignore speed limits and no the police do not routinely enforce the speed limits. In fact, they seem not to enforce speed limits at all unless they've set up radar points and/or someone is speeding more than 50 km/hr over the posted limit - probably because they get a kick out of impounding people's cars. No, I have to disagree with your comment - it gives a false impression of conditions in Toronto. The only thing that successfully slows down drivers in this city are (a) congestion (b) construction and (c) collisions. Speed limits are a joke. And as for being North America's largest car-free urban zone - where exactly would that be? Unless you're counting the ravine system, or there's a part of this city I've lived in for 46 years, I fail to see how we could qualify for that title. Is there something I've missed here?


Esmo said...

Blimey, in the UK we have 30, as a standard 'town-safe' speed, but it's in mph. That's nearly 50kmh...

Anonymous said...

To install 30km/h zones are one thing. To observe the tempo limit is the other thing. In germany we have many of these zones and almost no car driver applies to the rules of driving at a MAXIMUM of 30km/h in those zones. I drive those 30-zone streets on my bike w/ 30km/h and I'm getting cut and passed by honking cars with more then 50km/h every day.

sexify said...

If only people in every city loved their children more than their cars, L'Homme.