Residents of Lake Constance and the responsible district office have now taken their dispute over signs for a voluntary 30 km/h speed limit to court. The question is whether citizens can use their own signs to ask drivers to drive more slowly, said the Federal Managing Director of German Environmental Aid (DUH), Jürgen Resch, in Freiburg on the sidelines of the local administrative court hearing. Many communities would say yes.
However, the Konstanz district office had classified the voluntary speed limit signs as inadmissible and threatened to impose a fine. Three plaintiffs from Lake Constance communities took legal action against it. They are supported by the DUH, which is seeking a landmark judgment.
Christian Kronenbitter from the mountain village of Öhningen-Schienen put up two signs on his property. “They’re still standing there,” said the 66-year-old on the sidelines of the hearing. He hasn't received any punishment yet. "We have a thoroughfare with a double S-curve. There is sometimes a lot of traffic, and on weekends we have a lot of motorcyclists." Were the signs of any use? Kronenbitter drew a mixed conclusion: "Commuters to Switzerland don't stick to it. But the guests in our tourist resort pay more attention."
Plaintiff Erich Maier from Moos-Iznang also came to Freiburg. The 64-year-old said he was also concerned about noise protection. "We live locally, it's my parents' house." Maier also did not remove the signs.
The environmental and consumer protection organization DUH argues that the signs erected on the Höri peninsula on Lake Constance can be clearly distinguished from official traffic signs. The usual limit of 50 kilometers per hour applies in municipalities. On the rectangular boards you can see the word "Voluntary", a modeled 30 km/h speed limit sign and silhouettes of running children on a white background.
“Are the signs gone?” asked presiding judge Gerold Wiestler. It became clear in court that most of the approximately 30 signs in the towns actually disappeared again. However, no fines have been imposed in the dispute so far, as the representative of the district office, Michael Greineck, said. Judge Wiestler asked, among other things, questions about the design of the signs. According to previous case law, what counts is the overall impression that a casual observer gets.
According to the district office, the controversial signs were mainly set up in the communities of Moos, Gaienhofen and Öhningen in the Konstanz district. With reference to the road traffic regulations, an “administrative act with a fine” was threatened if the panels remained on the property. Greineck said in court that it was an “information letter” to residents.
According to the office, there were complaints from drivers that assistance systems in the car reacted to the speed limit of "30". “There were also complaints on the topics of vigilantism and usurpation of office,” the authority reported in advance.
As the court announced, the decision will initially be communicated to those involved by telephone on Tuesday. Afterwards, written information for the public is planned.