Strengthen pedestrian traffic, protect the environment, make urban living liveable

German Environment Agency presents basic principles of a pedestrian traffic strategy

many pedestrians on a zebra crossingClick to enlarge
Urban and transport planning authorities should promote walking.
Source: william87 /

More than one-fifth of all the trips taken in Germany are done on foot. Walking is emissions-free, quiet and requires little space. The German Environment Agency (UBA) wants to further promote walking and has presented some basic principles for a national walking strategy. The goals of the strategy are to get more people to do more walking, make pedestrian traffic safer and accessible, anchor the topic with defined responsibilities within administrative bodies at federal, state and municipal level, and to increase the quality of the walker’s environment. President Maria Krautzberger of UBA said: “Pedestrians are the blind spots of traffic policy. But walking is the most natural and fundamental form of mobility. Our strategy shows how we can strengthen pedestrian traffic – for the sake of protecting the environment and making cities more liveable. We need a national strategy for pedestrian traffic similar to those which already exist in several other European countries."

People who walk in Germany often must put up with exhaust emissions, noise and cramped space, in addition to being accident-prone. More than one-third (36 percent) of traffic fatalities in cities were pedestrians. Furthermore, pedestrian traffic still holds a great deal of potential. One-fifth of all car trips are no more than two kilometres. Most of these trips could easily be taken on foot. 

To make walking more attractive, UBA has developed a number of proposals, including anchoring walking distance in planning law, introducing a 30 km/h inner-city speed limit and increasing fines for pedestrian-hostile behaviour or establishing minimum standards in construction of footpaths or traffic light phasing which are pedestrian-friendly. Research programmes and funding instruments in the remit of the federal departments of transport, building, environment, health, education should support more projects for the development and promotion of pedestrian traffic. Pedestrian traffic is a cross-cutting theme and a task of many governmental departments. A national pedestrian traffic strategy would send a clear signal that walking not only bears quality in the movement itself but also in the time spent doing it and socializing. 

A concrete goal for 2030 at national level would be to increase the share of walking trips in Germany by about half – from the current average rate of 27 percent to 41 percent in core cities, and from an average 23 percent to 35 percent in rural regions, by 2030.

Other European countries recognised the importance of walking long ago. Austria, Scotland and Wales, Finland and Norway promote walking through national pedestrian traffic strategies. A national strategy can help the public authorities charged with responsibility for pedestrian traffic to implement the Federal proposal. 

The paper Grundzüge einer bundesweiten Fußverkehrsstrategie (Strategic plan for walking) will be presented to the public at the second German pedestrian traffic congress (2. Deutscher Fußverkehrskongress) on 12 October and discussed in a dialogue about the future with representatives from the Federal Government, the Länder and local authorities. 

Further information: 

2. Deutscher Fußverkehrskongress, 11 - 12 October 2018 in Berlin 

"Geht doch!" [Let’s go!] is the motto of the two-day conference which focuses on the subject of pedestrian traffic. The German Environment Agency (UBA), Federal Ministry for Environment, Nature Conservation and Nuclear Safety (BMU), State Ministry of Transport of North-Rhine Westphalia, German Transport Safety Council (DVR), the Federal Institute for Research on Building, Urban Affairs and Spatial Development (BBSR), University of Wuppertal and the State of Berlin are partners. The event is expected to draw more than 300 participants from public administration, planning, science, and policy-makers. 

A Walk Parade through the city of Berlin on the first evening of the event will draw attention to this most basic form of mobility. Event kicks off on 11 October at 17h00 at the Kalkscheune.

Umweltbundesamt Headquarters

Wörlitzer Platz 1
06844 Dessau-Roßlau

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 pedestrian traffic  urban transport