- Posted September 3, 2013 by
Freiburg official shares lessons on how to make people adopt ecomobility as a lifestyle
SUWON, SOUTH KOREA—Forty years ago, residents in Freiburg would often spend hours in traffic jams—a stark contrast to the recent picture where at least one third of the population made a choice not to own a car, and to instead walk or bike to travel around.
Paving the roads for pedestrians and an active leadership that integrates urban planning in regional development plans are key to achieving an ecomobile city in Freiburg, Germany.
Professor Dr. Martin Hagg, vice mayor of Freiburg Germany noted that an urban policy in ecomobility should be integrated in the regional or national policy to ensure that green modes of transportation are accessible to more people in the community.
The concept of ecomobility supports the use of low-carbon or green transportation options for people, while creating more liveable, green cities that are friendly to pedestrians, cyclists and does away with congestion and pollution from motorized cars.
Ecomobility is an initiative that aims to lower carbon emissions from cities around the world that account for contribute to 80 percent of global greenhouse gas emissions. A major contributor to these emissions is the transport sector that heavily relies on the use of motorized vehicles.
Across the world, ecomobility is being championed especially by the ICLEI Local Governments for Sustainability alliances Cities, which includes Freiburg.
Ecomobility is not a new concept to Freiburg which has began implementing policies that support sustainable green transport as far back as 40 years ago, said Dr. Hagg during the Ecomobility World Festival 2013 in Suwon City, some 30 kilometers from Seoul.
To date, Freiburg has the lowest automobile density in Germany with only 423 cars running on its roads for every 1,000 persons.
The success of implementing ecomobility initiatives here was due to two factors: the availability of cheap alternatives to car use such as bikes and a policy that integrates local initiatives with regional ones, noted Hagg.
Freiburg with a land area of 153.07 kilometers square has only a population of 224, 000 people. The figures might be small by other standards but still can create problems of congestion during rush hours, which was an at an all time high in the 1960s.
The move to thread a more sustainable path in transportation and mobility became easier with the successful promotion of bikes as an alternative form of transport and as a means for traffic calming. Students, businessmen, local leaders and sports idols are used to riding bikes in the city. Since 1976, bicycle trips have risen to 96 percent.
Pedestrians also find it more comfortable to walk along sidewalks, which are integrated in the four tram lines that serve at least 200,000 residents today.
There are now plans to integrate the Freiburg tram line together with the regional tram line as well as an integrated fare system to encourage more people to use the public transport, according to Hagg.
“The key to a successful ecomobility implementation is how you make it smart and comfortable for people to be an ecomobile person. That is where you have to consider urban planning in the picture as it is key to make pedestrians integrated with all forms of green transport—allowing people more choices,” he noted.
The secret to have people become ecomobile? Focus on the impact of promoting a better quality of life for the community which is just as important as lowering the carbon emissions, noted Hagg.
You can view the event's website here: http://www.ecomobilityfestival.org/