Freiburg, a city known for its commitment to sustainable living and eco-friendly urban planning, has been thrust into the spotlight by the popular YouTuber, Not Just Bikes (NJB). In his recent video, NJB delves into the city’s remarkable achievements in terms of eco-friendly mobility, with a particular focus on downtown and Vauban. These neighborhoods have something unique in common – they’ve embraced stringent restrictions on car traffic.
A Shift from Car-Centric Development
NJB’s video underscores the city’s transformation from car-friendly development in the 1960s to a more pedestrian and cyclist-friendly landscape today. Nevertheless there are still many streets in Freiburg, where the car-friendly infrastructure of the 60s and 70s has not been corrected yet. E.g. the video briefly mentions the Bismarckallee (right in front of the main station) where a car-centric infrastructure was built as late as in the mid 1990s. In many places, Freiburg still struggles with the legacy of its past, car-centric urban planning.
A crucial project highlighted in the video is the Schlossbergring, a street that has undergone a significant transformation. It’s evident from the footage that the implementation of this “totally unprotected bicycle lane” has made a difference. But we’re not stopping there. Our video not only showcases the street’s transformation but also provides a glimpse of our vision for its future.
Following the successful collection of over 20,000 signatures in 2020, urging Freiburg’s local administration to prioritize pedestrians and cyclists, plans for the Schlossbergring are in motion. Two options will be presented to the local council – one that aligns with our proposals and another that remains undisclosed. We need all the support we can get to ensure Freiburg’s policymakers will prioritize human-friendly infrastructure in this key project.
Transforming Haslach – A Neighborhood in Transition
Another significant project is a traffic calming initiative in Haslach. At its core, this project aims to transform the central commercial street, which is primarily intended for “local traffic”. While this should be a haven for residents and shoppers, nearly two-thirds of all car traffic treat it as a thoroughfare. Despite the thriving commercial scene in the pedestrianized city center, local shop owners have reservations about removing parking spaces, introducing traffic calming measures and giving more space to pedestrians. We’re seeking support to encourage our decision-makers to avoid excessive compromises. What we aim for in Haslach are the successful modal filters seen in Vauban.
Learnings from History
History can often be a valuable teacher. Until 1973, Freiburg’s inner city was inundated with cars, with shop owners expressing concerns about a potential loss of business if plans for a car-free downtown would become reality. Fast forward to today, and it’s the busiest shopping street in the region. A clear testimonial to the resilience of human-friendly infrastructure.
Ongoing Initiatives and Achievements
We’ve been advocating for the removal of (illegally designated) parking on sidewalks and promoting the expansion of pedestrian walkways. In some instances, our efforts have been met with success, such as in the neighborhood west of Merzhauser Straße (as seen in the video, min 14:34ff ).
And let’s not forget the iconic bicycle bridge, one of the busiest cycle paths in Germany, catering to as many as 10,000 cyclists daily.
Freiburg’s journey towards eco-friendly mobility, as explored in NJB’s video, is a testament to what’s possible when a community comes together with a shared vision for a more sustainable and livable city. However, we’re far from the finish line. Our advocacy group continues to press for change and innovation, but we need your support to influence the decisions that will shape Freiburg’s future. Together, we can push the city and its politicians further in the direction of human-friendly infrastructure.
By highlighting the city’s achievements and ongoing efforts, this article aims to encourage and inspire more individuals to join our cause, ultimately helping to shape a greener, healthier, and more sustainable Freiburg for all.