Speed limit measure to curb noise pollution pushes ahead

Some 1.1 million residents are exposed to traffic noise that exceeds legal limits in Switzerland. © Keystone / Gaetan Bally

Western Switzerland is moving ahead with a measure to slow down drivers in an attempt to reduce noise pollution. This is expected to affect 33,000 residents and considered a pioneering move on such a large stretch of roads in Switzerland.

This content was published on August 31, 2019 - 14:31

On Friday, authorities in the French-speaking city of Lausanne announced that, barring any final opposition, it would be pushing ahead with a plan to set the speed limit to 30 km/h (down from 50km/h) at night (10 pm to 6 am) on major road networks starting in early 2020.

This comes after a 2-year pilot test of the measure revealed that the speed reduction could drop average noise levels by 2 to 3 decibels and would only impact 10% of vehicles traveling on the major roads affected. There was also an 80% reduction of peak noise when the 30 km/h was in place.

According to a press release, local residents are largely in favour of the measure.

“The 30 km/h at night is an appropriate measure that is at the crossroads of current concerns. It impacts health, safety and the environment. In a canton that continues to grow, this measure makes it possible to reconcile quality of life, mobility and the creation of new housing," noted Nuria Gorrite, head of the cantonal department of infrastructure.

In addition to the speed limit measure, the city is also proposing additional sound-absorbing buffers, informational radars and a major communication campaign, which it estimates will cost CHF4.5 million.

In seemingly quiet and peaceful Switzerland, one in seven people in Switzerland is exposed to excessive noise pollution, particularly from road traffic, according the Federal Office for the Environment. The number has gone down in the last few years thanks in part to noise reduction measures.

However, the topic has been the subject of much debate in various communities in Switzerland. Exposure to excessive noise has been shown to lead to health problems such as high blood pressure, coronary issues and depression.

Last summer, federal aviation authorities limited the number of time slots for planes at Switzerland’s main airport in Zurich to reduce noise pollution for residents.

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