New 50km/h motorway morning speed limit is idiotic, says French mayor

He criticised the rush-hour reduction saying it creates a major safety issue as some drivers slow down to keep to it and others do not

Heavy traffic on the A7 motorway, France
The measures are intended to help traffic flow on the A7 motorway, but the Vienne mayor has said they are ‘idiotic’
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A mayor in south-east France has denounced a new rush hour motorway speed limit of 50 km/h as "accident-prone" and "idiotic".

The A7 motorway between Terney and Feyzin, in Vienne (Isère, Auvergne-Rhône-Alpes), has had its speed limit reduced from 80 km/h to 50 km/h on weekdays from 07:00 to 09:30 since Wednesday, March 20.

There is also a new eight-kilometre-long lane reserved for car-pooling, public transport, and Crit'Air 0 vehicles.

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The measure comes from the regional prefect and the Ministry of Ecological Transition, and is paid for by the state. It is part of “an initiative to improve mobility between Lyon and Saint-Étienne, and to improve traffic flow on the A7 motorway,” the ministry said.

Mayor: ‘Much more accident-prone’

However, Vienne mayor Thierry Kovacs said that the speed limit measure was not working, and was actually likely to cause many more accidents.

He said he had travelled on the road in question twice in the week and that he was not able to drive "at less than 60 km/h in the right-hand [slow] lane".

He told BFMTV: “Everyone was beeping at me. If the only question was about security, well, I would say that it’s actually much more accident-prone. You only have to go on the road during the hours when it’s limited to 50 km/h to see that.”

He also denied that the measure would help to reduce CO2 emissions.

In a Facebook post, Mr Kovacs said the speed cap measure was “incomprehensible and idiotic”. He wrote: “It has to be said that this 50 km/h limit is completely unrealistic and is therefore not respected.

“The differences in speed between the few vehicles complying with this limit and the others, which continue to travel at much higher speeds, are causing major safety problems."

He also said that the vast differences in speed limits on several roads between Vienne and Lyon - which can vary from 50 to 70, to 90, and up to 110 km/h - are "incomprehensible and dangerous for drivers".

Mr Kovacs has now published an open letter to the regional prefect, and is calling for the speed limit to be reconsidered.

The prefect’s office has said that a "feedback mechanism" will be used imminently to "assess the possibility of raising the speed limit from 50 km/h to 70 km/h on certain sections".

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