Bilbao becomes the first major city in the world to set an 18 mph speed limit
No urban area with more than 300,000 inhabitants has yet done so
In terms of speed limits, some countries are stricter than others for various reasons. In France, for example, the city of Nantes has adopted an 18 mph (30 kph) speed limit on more than 80% of its streets. The Spanish neighbors are even stricter, as the city of Bilbao has just adopted the 18 mph speed limit for the entire urban area.
All roads are concerned without exception, from small streets to major boulevards. As a result, the capital of Biscay becomes the first city in the world with more than 300,000 inhabitants to impose a speed limit of 18 mph in all its streets. The motivations are about environment and safety.
Lowering the speed limit would allow traffic to flow more smoothly and consequently limit traffic jams during rush hours. It would also encourage motorists to use public transport in order to relieve further congestion on the city's streets. The other argument is, of course, safety.
At 18 mph, the speed gap between motorists, cyclists and pedestrians is greatly reduced. Going from 31 to 18 mph (50 to 30 kph) would reduce the risk of accidents by 30% and would also reduce the severity of accidents by 50%. It should also be noted that at 31 mph, the proportion of pedestrians killed is 50% compared to only 5% at 18 mph.
Photo credits El Mundo