As Angie Schmidt reports, slow-speed zones are gaining traction in cities that want to improve pedestrian safety and enhance livability. Schmidt lists 20 miles per hour zones in New York City, similar adoptions in London with studied benefits, and now Paris for the city in its entirety (minus a few major streets). Schmidt cites Eric Britton's recent blog post as the latest high profile example on this slowing-things-down movement—what Britton calls "slowth."
Britton says that if the city adopts Mayor Madame Anne Hidalgo's plan, the new citywide slow-speed limit will be implemented on all streets except a "small number of major axes into the city and along the two banks of the Seine, where the speed limit will be 50 km/hr, and the city’s hard pressed ring road (périphérique) where the top permissible speed has recently been reduced from 80 to 70 km/hr." Per Britton, in addition to the reduced citywide speed limit, there will be "'meeting zones' (zones de rencontre) spotted around the city in which pedestrians and cyclists have priority but mix with cars which are limited to a top speed of 20 km/hr."
Britton writes that Mayor Hidalgo's idea expands upon "a steady increase in the number of zones reserved for pedestrians only, and more recently a step-by-step movement to “eco-areas” (see http://www.eco-quartiers.fr) where top speeds are already limited to 30 km/hr. By 2013 some 560 kilometers of the city streets were already in such areas, about one third of the total." Britton hopes to see significant results from the reduced speed limit, such as "substantially fewer accidents, significant reduction in serious injuries and deaths…reduced carbon stress on climate, and the long list goes on."