How can traffic work better? For the sake of the environment and without people having to give up too many amenities? The travel debate could be one of the most exciting in the country, but so far it has been dominated mainly by individual interests: here, industry, which intensely promotes what is called “individual mobility”. Which usually means the biggest car sales possible. There are environmental associations, which often focus mainly on bicycles and public transport. The overarching question of how it works together, however, is still very quietly discussed, especially so far in the Federal Ministry of Transport.
Today a group of economists and (former) auto managers presented an article that tries to think of everything together. “Eight maxims for better mobility” was the name of the group which included Kirstin Hegner, who heads the Digital Hub Mobility at the Technical University of Munich. There are also former Seat boss Jürgen Stackmann, Hans-Peter Kleebinder and Andreas Herrmann from the University of St. Gallen and Johann Jungwirth, who was once a VW pioneer and now works on robotic shuttle services in the subsidiary Intel Mobileye.
“The central point of the new mobility”, write the authors, is the idea of ”transporting people and goods in a multimodal way: quickly, easily, safely, inexpensively, CO₂ neutral and without unnecessary transfers” . People should always keep an eye out for all modes of transportation, from trails and bikes to cars or buses and trains. This can mostly be done through apps – but they need to be offered nationwide instead of just in individual cities, as it used to be.
Cars have been at the center of planning for the past hundred years
In municipalities, on the other hand, a different urban planning is needed, says the newspaper, which in places reads like that of environmental associations: For the last hundred years, cars have been at the center of planning. “Now people should finally take this place back.” In this way, a lot of things suddenly become possible: car-free areas, rapid progress, but at the same time also sports, recreation and games where the streets used to be. The authors write that something like this could also work in cities that have developed; they explicitly refer to Paris and Copenhagen.
The future federal government must also fund such model cities in this country. Cities, in turn, should change the framework, for example by reallocating parking spaces in centers to cycle paths and making the remaining parking spaces significantly more expensive. “Use, not own” is the principle of cars anyway. But since no one should be excluded from mobility, public transport should also become significantly cheaper and carpooling and higher passenger car use should be encouraged considerably. Statistically, 1.5 people are currently sitting in a car. “If it were possible to increase the load factor of vehicles to two people, we could theoretically do without more than ten million vehicles in Germany.
It sounds like: Fewer cars are better than more. When Winfried Kretschmann once proclaimed him the Green Prime Minister of Baden-Württemberg, half the country suggested he step down. But even now, such visions are still tricky. According to reports, even more authors contributed to the article. But they wouldn’t have wanted to give up their name – because they fear trouble.