05 Aug 2022, 14:00
Benjamin Wehrmann

Cities need greater autonomy in reformed and more sustainable German traffic code – think tank

Clean Energy Wire

Traffic regulations in Germany need a comprehensive reform to make the country’s transport sector fit for decarbonisation measures, think tank Agora Verkehrswende has found after analysing proposals on the government’s transport policy plans from 20 civil society organisations. “The current legal situation is making the transition to sustainability in cities more difficult,” Agora Verkehrswende said, arguing that municipalities need to have greater freedom of decision in traffic regulation in order to provide better solutions in individual cases. The proposals include a general speed limit of 30 kilometres per hour in cities, a precedence for pedestrians, more bicycle lanes and better parking space management. Cars are clearly dominating planning so far, and “fluent” traffic usually implies the unobstructed circulation of passenger cars, the think tank stated. In practice, this would mean that people travelling on foot, with a bicycle or by public transport would end up being disadvantaged. If municipalities had greater freedom in setting and applying rules, it would allow them to reduce the inequal treatment of road and pavement users, it added. “Science and civil society agree on the implementation of a fundamental reform of traffic regulation,” said Agora Verkehrswende’s director, Christian Hochfeld. Cities and municipalities are eager to improve their own traffic situation and the government should no longer delay reforms, he said.

A report commissioned by the Federal Environment Agency (UBA) already earlier this year urged sweeping reforms to get a grip on stubbornly high transport sector emissions, arguing a comprehensive overhaul of transport sector taxes is needed to reach the climate targets, but also to ensure sufficient revenue in a climate-friendly mobility future. Greenhouse gas emissions from the sector have remained almost unchanged since 1990, as efficiency gains of passenger cars have been eaten up by a move to bigger and more powerful models.

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