The issue there is the margin for error is so tiny at 30KPH, the slightest downhill and you’d easy go slightly over the limit. Simply too slow and most of these places are completely devoid of people, exceptions being around schools, hospitals and old peoples homes. Youngsters soon learn the cameras positions and then just brake hard before booting it back after the camera.
In Manche and Calvados there are scores of sparsely populated conurbations bisected by fast but narrow N and D roads along which motorists and PL camions bowl at 80 kph with minds in neutral.
Most of these lived-in places have well-signed 30 kph restrictions reinforced by traffic calming features such as humps, chicanes and textured surfaces, as well as flashing signs. They seem always to be respected by through traffic, indeed trying to drive faster would be reckless and utterly reprehensible. Only a psychopath would fail to comply IMO.
I think it’s important to note that Bégles (with it’s 28,000 inhabitants) is in fact a suburb of the city of Bordeaux and lies almost entirely within the Bordeaux outer ring road. The entire Commune is a built up area previously subject to a 50kph limit throughout.
Because the Commune is so compact, and because there will be many junctions, traffic lights, and roundabouts that force a reduction of speed to well below 30kph in order to negotiate these hazards, the impact of reducing the general limit from 50 to 30 will only be a matter of a few seconds when making a journey from one side of the Commune to the other.
In such heavily built up areas there always tends to be a larger proportion of accidents involving pedestrians than in rural areas, and the difference between a pedestrian being struck by a vehicle travelling at 50 as opposed to 30 is often quite literally one of life or death.
Clearly a Commune wide 30 kph limit in a rural area where much of the road network is unpopulated country roads would not be appropriate, but in a heavily populated area it is quite literally a life-saving concept.
It has been found that in experiments In areas where all traffic calming measures have been removed accidents have actually decreased.
Familiarity breeds contempt and pedestrians take more care when they have to think for themselves or take the consequences.
The flippant reply to your question would be ‘Trying to get to the other side’, but seriously, there is obviously a problem with road safety in this particular commune or else the council would not have risked its popularity by introducing such a measure.
Where vehicular traffic flow is high, and there is a relatively high proportion of pedestrian road users, there will be a commensurate increase in the percentage of accidents that involve pedestrians. Often these accidents will involve particularly vulnerable pedestrians such as the elderly, the young, the partially sighted, the hard of hearing, the temporarily distracted (mobile phone or MP3 player), or simply those who have no choice but to walk in the carriageway because someone has selfishly and inconsiderately completely blocked the pavement with their parked vehicle.
The local authority has a duty towards public safety and therefore a duty to do something.
The most effective thing would be to completely separate the different classes of road users so that they can never come into contact with each other, but this is both impracticable and hugely cost prohibitive.
Therefore, accepting that there will be contact between the different classes of road users, vehicular and cyclists, vehicular and pedestrian for example, then it is appropriate to instigate measures to reduce the extent of the injuries caused by such incidents, and the most effective, and indeed the most cost effective way of doing this is by reducing the speed of vehicular traffic.
I suppose that I should declare an interest here and tell you that for many years I was a traffic cop in a large city in the UK, and that therefore I have been the guy who has to clear up the carnage at the scene of the accident and inform the parent that their child has been knocked off their bike and is now in the mortuary.
So I have a question for you, and indeed for every reader of this post, and it is this;
“Will you allow a minute or two extra time for your journey in order to save the life of a child ?”