The EU can't force banana growers to produce straight fruit (it never did); and it won't be able to force EU countries to impose lower speed limits in towns but a vote by European parliament politicians will make it easier for localities to push for more 30kph zones (20mph in the UK).
"Today marks a decisive day in making a 30 kmh speed limit an accepted practice throughout Europe," said a statement from the European Cyclists' Federation.
The European Parliament adopted a resolution in which it “strongly recommends the responsible authorities to introduce speed limits of 30kph in all residential areas and on single-lane roads in urban areas which have no separate cycle lanes.”
This resolution - a vote on recommendations put forward by the Koch Report on transport - is part of a wide range of measures to halve Europe’s 31,000 annual road fatalities by 2020.
“Parents don’t want to be petrified by their kids walking or cycling on the side walk,” said ECF policy officer, Fabian Küster.
“This move by the EU is all about personal liberty. It’s about politicians creating cities for living in rather than thoroughfares for vehicles. And it’s about reclaiming streets and neighbourhoods for people and cyclists.”
An EU-wide survey conducted in 2010 showed overwhelming support for 30 kph zones with 78 percent of EU drivers citing excessive speed as a major safety concern. The UK's Institute of Advanced Motorists released a poll last month in which two thirds of its members supported the adoption of 20mph speed limits.
As for enforcing these speed limits, the European Parliament has also requested the European Commission draft a proposal and timetable to fit vehicles with “intelligent speed assistance” (ISA), which enforces driver compliance with speed limits.