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Speed limits

Tempo 30 Schild
Bild: detailfoto - Fotolia.com

In Berlin, there are deviations from the maximum speed limit of 50 km/h in built-up areas on many roads. Speed limits help to make traffic in the big city safer and more environmentally friendly.

Residential areas, mixed areas or commercial and industrial areas present traffic planners with completely different tasks. While in residential and mixed-use areas, traffic safety and the limitation of noise and environmental pollution are in the foreground, on the city’s main roads, traffic must be guaranteed to run efficiently and as smoothe as possible.

Speed limits are an important means of meeting the needs of residents and different road users. They help to organise traffic according to specific local needs and the respective urban environment.

Why speed limits?

30 km/h speed limit for traffic safety reasons

Speed limits are often in place in front of primary schools and kindergartens and on stretches of road where accidents often occur. These provide protection (but not only) for children and generally draw the attention of road users to particularly dangerous areas.

30 km/h speed limit for noise protection reasons

Noise is particularly disturbing when we are asleep. The 30 km/h speed limit regulations serve to protect the night’s rest. This protection is important because permanent night-time traffic noise above 55 decibels is likely to lead to increased cardiovascular diseases. Almost 340,000 people are affected by this on Berlin’s main roads.

The 30 km/h speed limit at night (10-6 a.m.) is part of an overall noise reduction concept, which is complemented by other measures, such as the replacement of noisy road surfaces. The 30 km/h speed limit at night does not solve the city’s noise problems completely. However, they will mean that many Berliners will be able to sleep a little more peacefully in the future.

30 km/h speed limit for reasons of air pollution control

Berlin’s air must improve! Despite extensive measures, there is still a danger that the binding European limits for nitrogen dioxide (NO2) and particulate matter (PM10) will be exceeded in our city. The target values proposed by the World Health Organisation (WHO) are even exceeded across the board in Berlin. There are clear results that 30 km/h speed limits can improve the air we breathe.

Speed limit 30 is an effective measure to improve air quality if the quality of traffic flow can be maintained or improved. This is because start-up processes are then shortened and fewer emissions are emitted. Emissions from tyre abrasion and road swirl are also reduced, as friction forces and turbulence are lower at low speeds. Emissions from brake abrasion are also reduced, because the braking time and force are lower than at 50 km/h. In Berlin, the effect of 30 km/h on air quality has been directly tested over several years.

Studies on the effect of 30 km/h speed limit

Study on the effect of Tempo 30 on traffic and air quality (2021)
The traffic trial “Tempo 30 to improve air quality” on five heavily polluted Berlin roads was successfully completed.

Five sections of the following streets were selected for the study:
  • Leipziger Straße (Markgrafenstraße – Potsdamer Platz)
  • Potsdamer Strasse (Potsdamer Platz – Kleistpark)
  • Hauptstraße (Kleistpark – Innsbrucker Platz)
  • Tempelhofer Damm (Alt-Tempelhof – Ordensmeister Strasse)
  • Kantstraße (Amtsgerichtsplatz – Savignyplatz).

The results of the survey showed that…
… 30 km/h speed limit on main roads can contribute to an improvement in NO₂ pollution of up to 4 µg/m³ on an annual average.
… 30 km/h speed limit does not lead to any significant traffic diversion to other roads.
… the lower speed increases the travel time of public transport (bus traffic) on the routes by about 60 to 90 seconds.
The study has thus also shown that 30 km/h speed limits are an effective instrument for designing sustainable traffic.

Results of the evaluation of 30 km/h speed limit on main roads (2013)

The effects of 30 km/h speed limit on main roads in Berlin were analysed. The aim was to examine the effectiveness in more detail and to present suitable framework conditions to implement 30 km/h speed limit on main roads.
Among other things, the report shows that the average speed dropped statistically significantly in around 80 percent of the cases studied after the introduction of the speed limits, even without accompanying construction measures or speed cameras. The main findings of the evaluation of 30 km/h on main roads in Berlin are in the evaluation report.

In addition, the Federal Environment Agency commissioned a study on the further effects of 30 km/h on main roads, for example on the quality of traffic flow and on the subjective perception of residents.