Circulation in Grenoble : 50 km/h the exception, 30 km/h the rule

sep article

Notre indépendance c

FOCUS – Since 1st January 2016, the city of Grenoble, along with forty-two of the city districts, are experimenting with a speed limit of 30 km/h. Only a few major roads will retain the limitation at 50 km/h, as an exceptional measure. This is the first major experiment on this scale, with the authorities expecting to see beneficial effects, both economically, and in safety and pollution levels.




© Joël Kermabon - Place Gre'net

© Joël Kermabon – Place Gre’net

The gene­ra­li­za­tion of cir­cu­la­tion at 30 km/h came into force, in 80% of the streets of Grenoble, on 1st January, 2016. However, Tuesday 5th January was cho­sen, to unveil a 30 km/h speed limit sign at the entrance of Catane – a com­pul­sory com­mu­ni­ca­tion – in front of a high media tur­nout..


Just a few steps away, ano­ther sign announces to moto­rists that they now ente­ring “a pea­ce­ful city”.



One way, per­haps, to defuse any cri­ti­cism of a mea­sure that has already cau­sed a stir in the Grenoble Landernau since its announ­ce­ment.




An average speed of between 17 and 18 km/h in the city



A more pea­ce­ful city ! At least, this is the wish expres­sed by forty-three out of the forty-nine city dis­tricts, on the ini­tia­tive of the new regu­la­tions. Mont-Saint-Martin, Sarcenas, Quaix, Meylan, Saint-Paul-de-Varces and Notre-Dame-de-Mésage did not want to adopt the new mea­sures.
A col­lec­tive deci­sion, which Éric Piolle, mayor of Grenoble, echoes. “This is an ini­tia­tive that has no poli­ti­cal colour”, he points out, not without satis­fac­tion. The elec­ted offi­cial is convin­ced that “it’s all about adap­ting our cities into public areas, where the public can move around in a cal­mer man­ner”.


From left to right : Jacques Wiart, Mondane Jactat et Philippe Zanola. © Joël Kermabon - Place Gre'net

From left to right : Jacques Wiart, Mondane Jactat et Philippe Zanola. © Joël Kermabon – Place Gre’net

What this will change for the people who live in the city ? Firstly, it is the rever­sal of a rule : 30 km/h will be the norm on most roads, while the speed of 50 km/h will be the excep­tion.
However, this should not change much, at least in the city centre. “Today, in the town centre, the ave­rage speed is bet­ween 17 and 18 km/h”, adds Jacques Wiart, dele­ga­ted coun­cil offi­cial for tra­vel and urban logis­tics.


Secondly, about thirty fixed or mobile radars will be ins­tal­led. The objec­tive ? To remind road users of the new rules and to accom­pany the change. “We want a real beha­viou­ral change in our rela­tion­ship with the city and traf­fic, and much more atten­tion to be paid to pedes­trians and cyclists”, explai­ned the offi­cial.




“A very good economic opportunity for the municipality”



The announ­ce­ment of the new res­tric­tions, some months ago, pro­vo­ked an out­cry from the tra­ders, saying it would dis­cou­rage poten­tial cus­to­mers from visi­ting the city centre. Opposition was qui­ckly swept under the car­pet by Jaques Wiart. “We are convin­ced that, on the contrary, it is a great eco­no­mic oppor­tu­nity for the town. Thus, we will revive trade and eco­no­mic acti­vi­ties in the city. With the city limi­ted at 30 km/h there will be more flui­dity”, retor­ted the elec­ted repre­sen­ta­tive.


The city on 1st January, 2016. © Ville de Grenoble

Click to enlarge – The city on 1st January, 2016. © Ville de Grenoble

According to him, it’s a much sought after flui­dity, by logis­tics pro­fes­sio­nals, which should not pena­lize deli­ve­ries, as pre­dic­ted by many tra­ders. Quite the contrary !


To conclude the chap­ter, Éric Piolle evokes that, in his opi­nion, recur­ring recri­mi­na­tions could be appro­pria­tely resol­ved by the opti­mal use of park and ride.


The fears of tra­ders, are the same as when they were when they pro­tes­ted against pedes­trian areas, explains the mayor of Grenoble […] We have more than a thou­sand empty par­king spaces, even at peak busi­ness times, whe­ther in exis­ting car parks or those under construc­tion. There is, the­re­fore, a real pos­si­bi­lity to absorb cars and, thus, ensure that the public areas can come back to life again and faci­li­tate trade.”




Reduce noise and pollution levels



Mondane Jactat, muni­ci­pal coun­cil dele­gate for health and pre­ven­tion, assures that the speed limi­ta­tion mea­sures will improve the safety of the public, and reduce noise and pol­lu­tion. “It is the safety of the most vul­ne­rable on the street, which is in ques­tion. At 30 km/h, the bra­king dis­tance will be divi­ded in half, from 27 to 13 metres, which will divide the risk of death by nine”, ensures the repre­sen­ta­tive.


In the foreground : Mondane Jactat. © Joël Kermabon - Place Gre'net

At the left, Mondane Jactat. © Joël Kermabon – Place Gre’net

As for noise, which is, accor­ding to the coun­cil­lor, the main nui­sance felt by the popu­la­tion, it will decrease shar­ply. As a side effect, it will be the same for pol­lu­tion ; a major chal­lenge in impro­ving the health of the popu­la­tion, living on the effec­ted roads.


The “safety” aspects of the mea­sures, while impor­tant, are not the most emble­ma­tic.




That, at least, is the view of Philippe Zanola, mem­ber of the Association for the deve­lop­ment of public trans­port, cycle lanes and pedes­trian areas in Grenoble (ADTC) and the asso­cia­tion for streets in the future. “The city will finally become a real city […]. We have mana­ged to create net­works of roads in our towns, with dri­vers iso­la­ted in their own envi­ron­ment”, he says.


To conti­nue : “It is very impor­tant to redis­co­ver this urban space, to win it back, and we hope the next step will be a bet­ter sha­ring of this public space, which is cur­rently 80 to 90% attri­bu­ted to the auto­mo­bile”, concludes the asso­cia­tive acti­vist.


© Joël Kermabon - Place Gre'net.

© Joël Kermabon – Place Gre’net.

What about control ? On this point, Éric Piolle is reas­su­ring. Admittedly, this is a change in the regu­la­tions, but it is not a ques­tion of trap­ping moto­rists.


We’ll pro­gress slowly. Signs and road mar­kings will be chan­ged gra­dually, and the radars will be pla­ced mainly for trai­ning pur­poses. Everything will be done to faci­li­tate the tran­si­tion, this change in prac­tice”, said the mayor.




N.B.: In addi­tion, moni­to­ring and eva­lua­tion will be imple­men­ted. The objec­tive ? More flexi­bi­lity and sca­la­bi­lity in the imple­men­ta­tion of the mea­sures.



Joël Kermabon



Traduction from Speak English Center

Phone : +33 4 76 50 39 79

1 ave­nue du Vercors, 38600 Fontaine FRANCE


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