This is What You Might Read If American Society Wasn't Sick
If american society was not so utterly sick and dark, being governed
and controlled by scheming, malevolent, hate-filled tyrants with no
regard for social welfare or the health of society, you might read
something like the following about an american town. As things stand
in this detestable place, the only thing you will read in the news is
an unending stream of stories about more and more bicyclists who are
killed or seriously injured on the roads, meanwhile we go on bombing
Iraq for oil and killing innocent civilians, detroying the environment
at a maddening pace, and making our cities intolerable quagmires of
congested traffic and foul air, in what is the greatest crime of our
Read this and see what things COULD have been like here.
Transport and Energy
Bucking the trend
Freiburg's green transport policies are central to the city's
development, reports Rolf Böhme
For over three decades, the city of Freiburg im Breisgau - the
regional capital of one of Germany's most popular tourist destinations
and one of the country's fastest growing major cities - has pursued an
environmentally friendly urban development policy in which transport
plays an important role.
The "global transport concept" - with a transport infrastructure that
is friendly to people, the environment and the city - is intended as
an integral part of the development of the city, which now has 202,000
inhabitants. It includes reinforcing the city as regional capital,
developing a "quickest route to the city" campaign, preserving
cityscape and urban spaces, and reducing pollution.
The concept was approved in 1969 and, since then, the city has
developed many pioneering plans and measures, including establishing
cycle lanes, banning traffic from the city centre, introducing
Germany's first transferable flat-rate travel card, and building a
city and suburban railway (see end of article). Its objectives a
To reduce traffic in the city and give priority to local public
transport, cyclists and pedestrians.
To create a rational balance between all modes of transport.
To create global traffic calming and concentrate private vehicles onto
well constructed main arteries.
To control parking in public places.
Comparing figures for 1982 and 1999 for the three modes of transport -
motor vehicles, local public transport and bicycles - clearly shows
the positive effects of the concept. Local public transport increased
from 11 to 18 per cent, and bicycle use from 15 to 26 per cent, while
motor vehicle traffic decreased from 38 to 32 per cent, despite the
increase in the issue of motor vehicle licences. This result is in
complete contrast to the trends observed in practically all other
Central European cities.
The cornerstones of the transport concept a
1. Traffic calming. The first important and far-reaching step in
Freiberg's environment-friendly transport policy was transforming the
city centre into a pedestrian zone in 1973. After several years of
preparation, the city centre was closed to all motorized vehicles. The
provision of public transport was optimized, with tram routes running
north-south and east-west through the city centre.
Planners of public spaces calmed traffic further by using the natural
stone surfaces traditional to Freiburg, the classic Rhine pebble
pavements and, above all, the city's historic Bächle (gullies) in
designing roads. Similar measures were gradually introduced in the
districts around the centre. Then, in 1990, a 30 kilometre per hour
speed limit was introduced to all residential areas, except those on
main roads, which now covers the neighbourhoods where 90 per cent of
2. Concentrating traffic and improving roads. B?ndelungsstrassen
(roads on which traffic can be concentrated) are still needed, even
after restrictive traffic calming and traffic avoidance measures,
improvements in local public transport and encouragement of cycle use.
Meanwhile, creating new routes makes it possible to improve inner city
One example is the rerouting of Trunk Road 31 through the eastern end
of the city, due for completion this year. The politically
controversial road was routed via two underpasses beneath the eastern
part of the city, without any detrimental effects. This provided the
opportunity to put in place road improvements and traffic calming
measures meeting the objectives of sustainable urban development,
within the framework of a local urban development scheme for Freiburg
East. Continuing the route westwards through the projected city tunnel
will divert traffic away from the city's centre and from one of the
its most striking locations, the bank of the River Dreisam.
3. Managing public highways and adjacent land. Public highways and
adjacent land in the city centre and the surrounding area are
controlled and there are paying car parks. Controlling parking is a
key feature of the transport policy, so there is no free, uncontrolled
parking in the city centre or the immediate area. Parking is subject
to a sliding scale of charges and regulations, from the city centre
outwards to encourage commuters to park-and-ride on public transport.
The global transport concept is intended as as an integral part of the
development of the city
4. Public transport. The city promotes the use of public transport,
especially trams, which are the classic means of transport in cities
the size of Freiburg. The city council decided to preserve the tram
network in 1972 and three new routes have come into operation in
Of course, this means that vehicles and timetables must be made
attractive to passengers. A regional environmental card (travel card)
has been introduced at a standard rate of DM71 per month
(approximately $35), valid both for the city and the two neighbouring
districts. There has been a very positive response and the number of
passengers has increased by more than 100 per cent since 1980.
It is vital for the future to link the city and the region as a whole.
The city has set up a special unit with the two neighbouring districts
to develop an integrated regional transport concept, in collaboration
with the Breisgau S-Bahn (city and suburban railway) 2005. Plans
provide for the integration of Deutsche Bahn's rail network, the tram
network, and both city and regional buses into a unified system. The
cost of implementing this over some ten years will be around DM800
million (approximately $400 million). The Breisgau S-Bahn 2005 will
form the backbone of a regional development programme. The public
transport policy already implemented in the city is thus being
logically extended to the region.
5. Bicycle use. In Freiburg the bicycle is an essential mode of
transport for short and medium distance journeys. At relatively small
expense, people can be encouraged to cycle - through promoting bicycle
use for the benefit of the environment in a targeted way.
A cycle lane plan was first drawn up in 1970. Then there were only 29
kilometres of cycle lanes, which were not interconnected. Now there
are more than 500 kilometres of interconnecting lanes. There are some
5,000 parking spaces for bicycles in the city centre, with more at
tram stops - for bike-and-ride. There is one for 1,000 bicycles, with
a range of other cyclists' facilities, at the main railway station -
the most important hub for local and long-distance public transport -
built at a cost of DM4.5 million ($2.25 million).
Freiburg is conscious of its historic role and seeks to maintain and
reinforce its position as a socially diverse and commercially
important social, cultural and economic centre. So it is essential not
to allow avoidable traffic to build up and to promote
environment-friendly practices, while allowing for necessary and
unavoidable commercial traffic and managing it in a city-friendly
manner. Furthermore, the urban solutions must in future be extended to
the whole region, so that boundaries between city and countryside are
no longer important
Dr. Rolf Böhme is Mayor of Freiburg im Breisgau.
1969 Approval of the global transport concept
1970 Initial plan for cycle lanes
1972 Decision to maintain and improve tram network
1973 Total ban on traffic throughout the city centre to create a
1979 Global transport plan giving equal importance to all modes of
travel: walking, cycling, public transport and private motor vehicles
1985 Introduction of Germany's first transferable flat-rate city
1989 Approval of integrated transport concept aimed at reducing
traffic and promoting sustainable environment-friendly transport
1990 Introduction of 30km/h zones throughout the city
1991 Introduction of the Regio-Umwelt-Karte (regional environmental
card), a flat-rate travel card for use on public transport, valid in
the city and two surrounding districts (now known as regioncards)
1997 Building of the Breisgau S-Bahn (city and suburban railway) 2005
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