Heidelberg, Germany, is at the forefront of a movement: the push to get rid of cars entirely.
Heidelberg, a city of 160,000 people on the Neckar River, is one of only six cities in Europe considered “innovators” by C40 Cities, an organization that promotes climate-friendly urban policies and whose chairman is Michael Bloomberg, the former mayor of New York. (The others are Oslo, Copenhagen, Venice, and Amsterdam and Rotterdam in the Netherlands.)
Eckart Würzner, Heidelberg’s mayor, is on a mission to make his city emission free, Jack Ewing reports for The New York Times. And he’s not a fan of electric vehicles — he wants to reduce dependence on cars, no matter where they get their juice.
Heidelberg is buying a fleet of hydrogen-powered buses and designing neighborhoods to discourage all vehicles and encourage walking. It is building a network of bicycle “superhighways” to the suburbs and bridges that would allow cyclists to bypass congested areas or cross the Neckar without having to compete for road space with motor vehicles. Residents who give up their cars get to ride public transportation free for a year.
“If you need a car, use car sharing,” Mr. Würzner said in an interview.
Battery-powered vehicles don’t pollute the air, but they take up just as much space as gasoline models. Eckart Würzner, Heidelberg’s mayor, complains that Heidelberg still suffers rush-hour traffic jams, even though only about 20 percent of residents get around by car.
“Commuters are the main problem we haven’t solved yet,” Mr. Würzner said. Traffic was heavy on a recent weekday, pandemic notwithstanding.