Denmark cities to trial lower speed limits

The speed limit across 16 municipalities in Denmark could be lowered in a pilot scheme introduced by the Ministry of Transport to make roads safer.

Åboulevarden in Copenhagen. P
Åboulevarden in Copenhagen. On Monday 20th May, there will be a vote on whether to trial a lower the speed limit in the capital. Photo: Teitur Jonasson/Scanpix 2022

Following new speeding rules called hastighedsbekendtgørelsen, which were introduced by the Ministry of Transport on 6th January 2022, 16 municipalities in Denmark have been allowed to lower local speed limits from 50 to 40 kilometres per hour on selected sections in urban areas. 

This can be done without asking the police for permission and as long as it does not have a significant impact on the general traffic flow. It is part of a three-year pilot scheme to increase road safety. 

On Monday 30th May the Technical and Environmental Committee in Copenhagen will vote on whether to implement the lower speed limit in the capital.

The proposal is for there to be a maximum of 30 kilometres per hour in the entire inner city and 40 kilometres per hour in the outer part of the city, with some major roads maintaining the 50 kilometres per hour speed limit. 

“We want to slow down because it can help reduce CO2 emissions. We get better urban space, fewer serious traffic accidents, less air pollution and noise nuisance”, technical and environmental mayor Line Barfoed told DR News.

Dennis Lange from motorist organisation FDM doesn’t agree with Copenhagen’s plans. 

“The way the city of Copenhagen wants to do it is wrong. The pilot scheme does not aim to reduce the speed in the entire municipality. It is more about a political aversion to cars and about trying to get cars out”, he told DR News.

If the proposal for speed reductions is voted through on Monday, Copenhagen municipality will start the pilot scheme in Valby, and then roll it out over the rest of the city continuously over the next few years.

In Aalborg, lower speed limits begin this year. The municipality has already selected several stretches of road in the city centre, around schools and public institutions and on roads where there are many cyclists, as well as three villages including Gunderup.

“Hopefully there will be more calm, and we also have an easier time getting out of our driveway”, Gunderup resident Per Stig Larsen told DR News.

“We know that the speed has been a major nuisance for many citizens and has created unsafe conditions. If we can meet them, we want to. It is important to be able to move in a proper way and create better conditions in traffic”, Jan Nymark Thaysen, councillor for the City and Country department told DR News.

In Furesø, road engineer Anne Lisbeth Sørensen told DR News that three zones have been identified where the speed limit can be lowered but the physical work can only start in 2023, as they have not received money for it yet.

The 16 municipalities that are part of the lower speed limit scheme are: Aarhus, Aalborg, Frederiksberg, Allerød, Fredensborg, Frederikssund, Furesø, Gentofte, Hillerød, Hørsholm, Lyngby-Taarbæk, Rudersdal, Odense, Randers, Norddjurs and Copenhagen.

READ MORE: How and when should I exchange my foreign driving licence for a Danish one?

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How much money does Denmark earn from parking tickets?

Danish municipalities last year saw a record-high revenue from parking fines, parking permits and parking tickets.

How much money does Denmark earn from parking tickets?

Nationally, municipalities earned just under one billion kroner from the three types of parking fees, according to a review of municipal parking revenues in 2021 conducted by motorists’ interest organisation FDM.

The exact gross figure earned from parking fees and payments was 994,788,475 kroner, the organisation found.

The total is around 100 million kroner higher than it was in 2020 and 26 percent higher than it was in 2014, FDM said in a press statement.

“This is a drastic amount of money paid by motorists to municipalities for parking,” FDM senior consultant Dennis Lange said in the statement.

“We recognise that some municipalities need to regulate traffic with paid parking. But with a parking revenue that has only increased over the years, there’s reason to critically assess municipal parking arrangements, which can resemble a calculated revenue stream in breach of the law,” he said.

Revenues from paid parking in municipalities have particularly increased, with these now comprising almost three-quarters of total parking earnings, up from two-thirds previously.

Municipal paid parking – distinct from charges made by private car parks – exists in 26 of Denmark’s 98 municipalities. Parking permits required by local residents are included in this category.

The number of municipalities with paid parking has also increased, partly accounting for the overall higher total revenue according to FDM.

Paid parking zones have also been extended in some locations.

Copenhagen Municipality is the largest contributor to the national total by some distance.

In 2021, motorists in Copenhagen spent a total of 629 million kroner on parking. The second-highest total, in Aarhus, amounts to just under 100 million kroner.

Other densely-populated municipalities, including Frederiksberg, Odense and Aalborg, also figure near the top of the list.

But parking revenues have increase in all municipalities, FDM said.

“It’s odd to have large revenues from motorists while also wanting to make it difficult for them to use cities,” Lange said.

Money raised by local authorities from parking should be spent on large car parks outside of urban centres and close to public transport links, he argued.