Friday, November 16, 2012

Why does Germany have More Sustainable Transportation?

Sustainable Transport that Works:Lessons from Germany(34 page pdf, Ralph Buehler, John Pucher, World Transport Policy & Practice, Apr. 2009)

Also discussed here: Demand for Public Transport in Germany and the USA: An Analysis of Rider Characteristics(27 page pdf, Ralph Buehler and John Pucher, Transport Reviews, Sept. 2012)

And here: Making Urban Transport Sustainable: Lessons from Europe and North America( Keynote speaker, Dr. Ralph Buehler, Carleton University, Oct. 18, 2012)

And here: City considers cuts to Bronson Ave. speed limit after fatal crash (Ottawa Sun, Nov. 2, 2012)

And here: Who owns the road in Montreal?(Pollution Free Cities, Feb. 11,2011)

Today we review a paper authored by Prof Buehler and John Pucher who have also published a book very recently about safer cycling in cities. The paper compares the degree of sustainable transportation in Germany to the USA and other countries and notes that The USA is perhaps the best known example of unsustainable transport” for a number of reasons, ranging from much greater support for public transit as well as progressive land use and taxation policies in Germany that result in much less use of cars for commuting (5 times greater use of transit), as well as 2-3 times fewer traffic casualties and 80% fewer cycling casualties. Virtually all German cities have car-free zones and few have motorways that penetrate into the city core (unlike 99% of the large urban areas in the USA and Canada).

It is somewhat telling that shortly after an evening presentation on sustainable transportation by Prof Buehler at Carleton University in Ottawa, a student cycling home (perhaps after attending the presentation) was killed by a car on a 6 lane roadway that links the airport with the city core and lacks a safe bike lane (noting that a segregated bike lane is being piloted downtown and Ottawa currently has over 541 km of bike lanes including 258 km off road and is planning for 2,500 km, more than any other Canadian city).

There are many lessons to be learned here. 


Key Quotes:

“public transport accounts for five times as high a share of trips in Germany as in the USA: 8.5% vs. 1.6%”

 “Per-capita energy use for personal travel fell in Germany by 8.5% between 1999 and 2006, and CO2 emissions fell by 7%. Over the same period, transport energy use per capita rose by 4% in the USA and CO2 emissions rose by 2%”

“Traffic fatalities per capita in 2006 were 2.3 times higher in the USA than in Germany, indicating an important gap in overall travel safety”

Land Us and Taxation policies in Germany that support sustainable transportation:
  • “taxes and restrictions on car use help limit car use and mitigate its harmful impacts.
  • the provision of high-quality, attractively priced, well coordinated public transport services offers a viable alternative to the car for many trips, especially in large cities.
  • infrastructure for non-motorized travel has been vastly improved to increase the safety and convenience of walking and cycling.
  • urban development policies and land useplanning have encouraged compact, mixed-use development, discouraged low-density suburban sprawl and thus kept many trips short enough to make by walking or cycling
  • motor fuel taxes in 2006 were nine times higher in Germany than in the USA…petrol cost about 70% more in Germany than in the USA”
“Even though Germany has the fastest and third largest motorway network in the world, German motorways rarely penetrate into the city centre”

 “roughly 70-80% of the road network in German cities and small towns has speed limits of 30km/hr or less”

 “Virtually all German cities have created car-free zones in their centres, mainly intended for pedestrian use.. Wide sidewalks, safe pedestrian crossings, and car-free zones facilitate pedestrian access to bus and rail stops"

 “the number of cyclist fatalities fell by almost 80% in Germany over the past 35 years, compared to a decline of only 30% in the USA”

 "A reduced speed limit, coupled with increased enforcement, will play a key role in reducing the number of accidents on this stretch of road.. It will also be an important part of implementing some of the expected recommendations of the operation and safety review of this stretch of Bronson Ave. that city staff is undertaking."( Capital Ward Councillor David Chernushenko, Ottawa)
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