”Streets for People” will be the central theme of European Mobility Week 2007 which will start 16 September 2007 in many cities and communities, with campaigns focusing on sustainable transportation. This will be the sixth time that many municipalities are cooperating with transportation providers, associations, and citizens to demonstrate practical ways in which everyone can be mobile in an ecological way. ”Whether it is car, motorcycle, train or lorry, mobility is crucial for all of us, but it harbours risks for mankind and the environment: poor air quality, noise, and accidents jeopardise our health and put a strain on inner city living and leisure time environments”, said Prof. Dr. Andreas Troge, President of the Federal Environment Agency (UBA). European Mobility Week provides cities a good opportunity to consider together with their residents how each and every individual can stay mobile without the usual means of transport. ”Nobody is expected to do without transportation—especially if they are dependent on one specific means of transport. But riding a bike can also be pleasurable”, said Troge. This year, UBA is actively supporting the town of Dessau where it is now headquartered and welcomes participation and requests for information.
The number of registered passenger cars in the European Union increases by more than three million each year. Especially in urban areas this trend has led to numerous problems. Poor air quality and noise occuring as a consequence of increasing traffic are putting a strain on citizens and can even adversely affect their health. In addition, more traffic means greater risk of accidents for all road users. Even the economy can experience trouble on account of logistics: growth in road traffic leads to more traffic jams and difficulty in the delivery of freight and goods.
The quality of the environment is particularly important for city-dwellers’ health and quality of life. This is reason enough for cities and municipalities to take action in response to the increase in traffic and resulting pollution, perhaps by introducing a system of intelligent transport management. If municipalities promote regional public transport, bike transport, and walking they can provide some viable alternatives to the passenger car as the predominant mode of transportation. Towns and cities could use the road areas heretofore reserved for motorised traffic to make space available to a wider public, for example by transforming a through road into a play street or bicycle path. Citizens can thus reclaim attractive public space or even create new areas, which in turn can promote a sense of togetherness in the neighbourhood.
Many cities would like to set a good example during this year’s European Mobility Week with new projects to promote a switch to bus, rail, bicycle, or walking so as to rediscover the inner city. The town of Dessau, the city’s public transport provider, the Hochschule Anhalt, and UBA are cooperating in this year’s Mobility Week. Their Grün statt grau in Dessau [Green instead of grey in Dessau] motto aims to make a real contribution to raising awareness of sustainability in the area of transportation.
The schedule of events during the Grün statt grau in Dessau campaign can be found on the Internet at www.umweltbundesamt.de. More information on European Mobility Week is at www.klimabuendnis.org and www.mobilityweek-europe.org
Dessau, 14 September 2007