The City of Bremen is well known for its ambitious strategies on transport and quality of life in the city. Already, about 60% of all trips in Bremen are done by the sustainable modes of walking, cycling and collective transport, and this number is on the rise. Bremen, a traditional harbor city in the North of Germany with an urban population of 550,000, serves as a showcase of synergies between the strategic areas of sustainable transport. Bremen has accomplished a great deal in 2012 on a small-city budget.
Leadership in Car Sharing
Many cities have reached a saturation point in the number of cars. Innovative solutions are required to combine a high level of mobility for all with the requirements for good urban environmental quality. It is a common problem in densely built urban areas – where public space is at a premium – that any measure of greening, widening sidewalks for pedestrians etc. is confronted with possible trade-off of the limited space available for parking cars.
The long-term strategy of Bremen goes beyond a pure modal shift in journeys. The concept of a new mobility culture adds the alternative to car-ownership. Bremen’s Car-Sharing Action Plan (from 2009), intends to quadruple the number of car-sharers by 2020 (from 2008) – achieving 20,000 active users and replacing 6,000 private cars. With new buildings regulations for 2012, developers are encouraged to integrate car-sharing stations into new developments (reducing the provision of car-parking).
Bremen is a showcase as to how the innovative service of car-sharing is offering a more intelligent solution to urban transport problems than building (expensive) underground parking. The urban environment wins if fewer cars are required to maintain a high level of personal mobility. The variety of car-sharing cars available allows for a choice of the most appropriate car for each trip, which usually leads to a downsizing of vehicles used – a step to more energy efficiency – and the pay-as-you-drive principle of car-sharing supports a change in mobility patterns towards more cycling and public transport locally, with rail serving long-distance trips. Because of its positive impacts on both urban transport and on the quality of the urban environment, car-sharing has become a crucial part of urban transport strategies in Bremen. This is managed by the (private) operator Cambio, as well the City of Bremen and the public transport operator.
Leadership in Non-Motorized Transport
Non-motorized travel accounts today for about 45% of all trips of the Bremen citizens. The current share of cycling, 25%, shall be increased to more than 30% by 2020. The promotion of cycling includes ‘cycle streets’ with priority for cyclists – a kind of cycle highway – cycling in counter flow direction in most one-way streets (as safe shortcuts for cycling), a network of ‘green’ cycle connections, cycle parking with good bicycle racks and many promotional activities.
Walking is another important field. Good connections are very important – avoiding unnecessary deviations for pedestrians. The speed reduction of an inner-city highway and the installation of level crossings with traffic lights for pedestrians (avoiding steep ramps of old pedestrian bridges) was a politically spectacular re-setting of priorities.
Preservation of Public Space
Through the promotion and support of Car-Sharing, the number of parked cars in the neighborhoods shall be reduced by reclaiming street space for better purposes than car-parking. This improves also the conditions for walking and cycling (e.g. through more bike-racks). By 2020, Car-Sharing shall lead to replacing about 6,000 private cars. The inner city of Bremen is pedestrianized, as well the riverbanks (which served a long time widely as parking zone) are a zone for walking and cycling. Restaurants and recreational options in these areas attract many citizens and make these areas a livable space.
An entertaining video about sustainable mobility in Bremen, including details of their successful car sharing program starting at 8:30: