Berlin low speed zones successfully improve air quality

By Conall Martin / Updated: 19 Jan 2022

A pilot project in Berlin which aimed to reduce air pollution from vehicles in the city by has been deemed a success by local authorities. The project, called ‘Tempo 30’, planned to reduce the volume of air pollutants caused by traffic congestion by introducing a speed limit of 30 kilometres per hour on five main roads throughout the city. The lower speed limit was able to improve the flow of traffic and reduce the amount of time cars were sat idling and emitting air pollutants. The success of the project has meant that the new speed limits on these roads will continue after the trial phase ends.

Tempo 30, which started in 2017 and ran until 2019, was able to considerably cut nitrogen dioxide (NO2) emissions in four out of the five trial locations compared to other roads in the city using the existing 50 kilometres per hour speed limit. The project did not immediately reduce air pollution on these roads so additional measures, such as adjustments to the traffic light systems and an increase in number of vehicles using the routes, were required before seeing the desired results.

The outlying result, Potsdamer Straße in the Tempelhof-Schöneberg district, was not as successful in reducing emissions due to large levels of congestion remaining on the road. Although this trial site did not produce the same level of results as the other locations, the new speed limit will continue at this location, and additional measures are being recommended by researchers for implementation to help the new speed limit improve the flow of traffic.

The project acts as an urban planning success story in reducing air pollutants caused by road traffic and also provides a lower cost alternative to reducing air pollution in cities. The project and its adjustments cost the Senate Department for the Environment, Mobility, Consumer and Climate Protection 850,000 EUR and the BVG, Berlin’s public transport operator, 650,000 EUR for the additional vehicles.

Article originally published by TheMayor on 31 December 2021.

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Country: 
Germany
Topic: 
Scheme appraisal