Car-free city centres for a better quality of life

Germany is a car country. According to Statista, the number of registered cars has risen sharply since 1960 - from 8 million to 58.2 million. This does not remain without effect on the inner cities. Congested streets, high exhaust emissions and a time-consuming search for a parking space are the order of the day here. At the same time, the demand for logistics in densely populated areas is growing with the sharp increase in online trade.

Laws leveraged

The mass of vehicles on the roads of cities every day often overrides the laws of the road. For example, lorries - because they follow the instructions of the navigation device - roll through residential neighbourhoods via secret routes. Or delivery trucks drive into pedestrian zones all day long. Parked cars use public space, often blocking pavements or crossing areas. They thus become a danger not only for people who are in public space at the same time, but also for the vital functions of a city - the emergency services, police or refuse collection.

Traffic calming and reduction

In order for streets and squares to once again take on more diverse urban functions than just serving car traffic, the Federal Environment Agency has set itself the task of reducing and calming traffic in city centres. This in turn improves the quality of life in cities, creates a safe living environment and increases the attractiveness of retail locations, according to the Federal Environment Agency.

One solution to achieve these goals is cargo bikes in last-mile deliveries. "Cargo bikes and trailers can support delivery services in urban areas - and thus contribute to traffic calming," says Raik Vollmann, Managing Director of VSC Bike GmbH, a provider of cargo bikes in Allstedt.

And this is how delivery by cargo bike works in the city centre: Logistics companies bring the goods to the city limits and deposit them in so-called micro depots. There, the goods are redistributed to delivery bikes, which bring them to the city centres and to the customers.

Zero-emission delivery by 2025

Logistics companies have recognised this trend. Hermes - one of the largest independent postal delivery companies in the B2C and C2C sectors - has set itself the goal of delivering to all German city centres without emissions by 2025. With its "Urban Blue" concept, the company has committed itself to ensuring the strong increase in shipment volumes through compatible inner-city delivery. The implementation is already in full swing.

Role model Houten

"Besides the traffic relief for the city centre, cargo bikes are also good for the environment," says Raik Vollmann. "The more bikes there are, the greater the positive impact on the city climate," Vollmann continues. "They are emission-free and also have a positive effect against smog, the pollution of the air near the ground caused by a high concentration of ozone. In addition, they do not seal any surfaces, such as car parks, roads or underground garages. These areas are important for the water cycle, the soil and the flora and fauna," says Vollmann, summarising the advantages.

This has been recognised by the Dutch city of Houten, which banned car traffic from the city centre years ago and is now internationally regarded as a model for a traffic concept of the future. In addition to the numerous cargo bikes that speed through the city centre every day, there are also e-scooters on the road that chauffeur children or senior citizens - in other words, those road users who cannot get on a bike themselves. In addition to the positive effects on the environment, health and safety, the retail sector in the neighbouring country has also benefited from the orientation towards a car-free city centre.

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