Issue: June 2019, Less emissions, more quality of life – How to make transport sustainable?


Pathways out of transport breakdown

The introduction by Anke Herold, CEO of the Oeko-Institut

Every day, anyone who lives in a city or conurbation can see that in many places our transport system is on the brink of collapse. That is the case in my home city, Berlin. Every morning I cycle past kilometre-long lines of vehicles crawling bumper to bumper through the city. The number of hours that many people in Munich, Berlin or Hamburg spend sitting in traffic jams is rising year on year. This is a catastrophe not just for the climate but also for people’s health, safety and quality of life. There is no alternative to a shift in modes of transport. We need to be less reliant on the car and switch to more environmentally friendly forms of transport such as cycling – including e-bikes – and of course public transport. This involves imposing restrictions on cars – particularly restrictions on parking. Some progressive cities are demonstrating different ways of doing things. Zurich is one such city. Here the public transport system has been expanded and a gatekeeping traffic light system introduced that allows only a certain number of cars into the city centre. When that number is reached, no other car can enter until one leaves. And when someone has waited long enough for that to happen, they will perhaps use public transport next time.

There is an urgent need for action. The steps involved in creating an environmentally sound transport infrastructure – such as improving rail links and building new trams and cycle lanes – have a long lead time before the new elements are actually available. Yet such a transport infrastructure is crucial to the achievement of climate targets in the transport sector.

The transport transition is not just the task of policy-makers and public authorities. As we show in this issue of eco@work, shifting transport away from the car towards more sustainable alternatives involves us all. The studies by experts in the Institute’s Resources & Transport Division that are presented here emphasise this point.

Perhaps you have decided to use sustainable transport and are reading this issue of eco@work in the metro or train. I hope you enjoy it!


Anke Herold

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