Five, seven or 15 km/h: what does walking speed actually mean??

In traffic-calmed areas, walking speed is the order of the day. But what exactly does that mean? Photo: Rainer Jensen

Again and again one hears about the walking speed, but how fast may one drive thereby at all? Courts have very different opinions.

If there is a blue sign in a street with a house, a car and people playing, motorists should be careful: because then walking speed applies. But what does it mean and how fast is it allowed to drive now?? We explain it to you, because it is not quite so clear.

In these situations walking speed applies

Walking speed is usually enforced in play streets and traffic-calmed areas. There pedestrians have priority over cars. According to§ 20 paragraph 2 of the road traffic regulations (StVO) applies walking speed but also, when passengers enter or exit the site. Then you may pass on the right only at walking speed and only at such a distance that a danger to passengers is excluded.

What the StVO does not specify, however, is the permitted speed. Courts also disagree on what walking speed means. "As walking speed is a driving speed between four and seven kilometers per hour viewed", says Karsten Raspe from Tuv Thuringen.

How fast is walking speed?

Some courts measure the walking speed by the word "step". That means cars are allowed to drive so fast, How pedestrians can walk. For the higher regional courts of Brandenburg (23.05.2005, 1 Ss (Owi) 86B/05) and Karlsruhe (14.04.2004, 1 Ss 159/03) this means between 5 and 7 km/h. This results in an average speed of 6 km/h.

However, the Higher Regional Court of Hamm is of a different opinion. According to this, walking speed is only a very slow speed (20.09.2010, I-6 U 222/09). So it has set the walking speed at 10 km/h.

But that is not enough. The district court Leipzig sees even 15 km/h as walking speed an (16.02.2005, 215 OWI 500 Js 83213/04). This would still be a speed at which cyclists do not fall down.

And the speedometers of modern vehicles can display such low speeds without further ado. With older vehicles the speedometer starts however usually only with 10 km/h. Karsten Raspe of Tuv Thuringen appeals to common sense here: the speed should then be chosen somewhat lower, before the pointer of the speedometer swings out. "In addition, the motorist can always also be guided by the walking speed of passers-by", says the expert.

Crotch speed also for streetcars and buses

In addition, at public means of transport, usually streetcars, may be passed on the right only at walking speed, if these stop and the passengers get on or off, explains Raspe. If necessary, drivers must stop and wait. If a public bus or a school bus stops at the stop with its hazard warning lights on, other vehicles are also only allowed to drive at walking speed. "Very important: This also applies to oncoming traffic on the same lane", says Raspe.

Sometimes additional signs for a different type of traffic allow the use of a sidewalk or pedestrian zone. Even then, the driver must show consideration for the pedestrians and may neither endanger nor hinder. If necessary, it must wait. And his vehicle he may also drive here only at walking speed. By the way, the same penalties and fines apply to speeding as to driving in built-up areas.

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