Hamburg’s Plan to Eliminate Cars in 20 Years

About 40% of the area of , the second largest city in Germany, is made up of green areas, cemeteries, sports facilities, gardens, parks and squares. For the first time ever, the city has decided to unite them together via pedestrian and cycle routes. It’s all part of the “Green Network Plan,” which aims to eliminate the need for vehicles in Hamburg over the next 20 years.

According to city spokeswoman Angelika Fritsch, the project will help to turn the city into a one-of-a-kind, integrated system: “Other , including London, have green rings, but the green network will be unique in covering an area from the outskirts to the city centre. In 15 to 20 years you’ll be able to explore the city exclusively on bike and foot.”

More details, after the break.

Hamburg has two large green nuclei, one north and one south. To ensure that the plan integrates the entire city, the core team will work with one person from each of the seven municipalities of the metropolitan region. Uniting these spaces will ensure that all residents can enjoy access to nature and a sustainable commute.

© Martin at Sea, Flickr

The city will also construct new green spaces that should help absorb CO2 and regulate the city’s climate (Hamburg’s average temperature has risen about 1.2ºC in the last 60 years). These spaces will also help to prevent flooding: in the same 60 year time period, Hamburg’s sea level has risen about 20 centimeters and is expected to rise another 30 centimeters by 2100.

With this network, Hamburg will be following a trend, perhaps best exemplified by Copenhagen, of cities constructing cycle paths in order to linking outlying areas to city centers. And, importantly, the plan will make the car – currently the only transportation option to get from one part of the city to another – essentially unnecessary.

© Timo Heuer, Flickr

By Constanza Martínez Gaete, via Plataforma Urbana. Translated by Vanessa Quirk.

More info at The Guardian

© Niels Linneberg, Flickr
Cite: Quirk, Vanessa. "Hamburg’s Plan to Eliminate Cars in 20 Years" 07 Jan 2014. ArchDaily. Accessed 22 May 2015. <>
  • michael snoek

    “And, importantly, the plan will make the car – currently the only transportation option to get from one part of the city to another – essentially unnecessary”…… sorry, this is a slightly confusing and as it stands wrong statement. hamburg has an excellent public transport system, which is improved and expanded permanently. there is also a network of cycle lanes, which are growing. however, more can and should be made and the idea of linking existing green areas by walking and cycling paths is a good step forward!

  • David Odom

    Ah, cycling around Hamburg in the middle of winter – what a novel idea! I appreciate the effort to control emissions and make the city fabric more palatable for pedestrians and non-automotive traffic, and that effort should be supported and applauded. But the notion that cars will be “essentially unnecessary” seems rather naive without a deliberate and extensive public transportation network.

    • George C

      What is the issue? Put on a jacket, a pair of gloves, a hat and you’re all set.
      Yes, there is snow a few times a year but that can be removed.

      • Jim Loring

        If you’re young and healthy enough.

      • Marcel

        Jim, if there are more places to exercise yourself, like cycling paths, or just by walking, you’ll have a healthier life then you don’t need to be young enough, because you can handle this for a long time. Unless you have some illness that makes you unable to do this kind of stuff, and this way some motorized vehicles should be necessary, but only for emergencies and theses cases. I don’t think I can put the idea better, it’s a little confusing, but I think I made my point here.

  • Pascal

    “And, importantly, the plan will make the car – currently the only transportation option to get from one part of the city to another – essentially unnecessary.”

    Hamburg has a very dense public transportation network already. That statement is entirely wrong.

  • Rob

    Yeah sounds like a good idea now but wait until they run out of supplies… no cars means no vehicles, no vehicles means no delivery trucks…

  • tim

    ‘(Hamburg’s average temperature has risen about 9ºC in the last 60 years).’

    This should be .9, surely?

  • michael snoek

    the total temperature rise for germany from 1760 – 2010 was about 1.5 deg. c., [using a 30 year averaging interval]. there is no reason why this should not be roughly the same in hamburg. 9 deg c is definitely wrong!

  • Britt Onger

    More Agenda 21 rearing its ugly head, what is next in Hamburg? 30 square meter appartments like in New York City? IntelliStreet lighting systems that record the speech of people passing by? I do not know what the weather is like in Hamburg this day, over here we are snowed in with -35 deg C temperature and global warming liars are being laughed out of town halls all over our nation. I am sure that situation is similar in Deutschland.

    • Jim Loring

      I just hope Hamburg isn’t making the same mistake as my hometown of Seattle, Washington. It’s interesting watching rents increase precipitously while the corresponding square footage (living space) decreases. The response has sparked a rapid increase in the number of residential highrise projects under construction. Amazon, Microsoft and all that.

      Seattle had an extensive street railway / trolley earlier in the 1900s that was removed due to “obsolesce.” At phenomenal cost these are now being replaced, the Seattle SLUT (Seattle South Lake Union Transit) reminds me of the system in Munich. I later Hamburg residents won’t be tearing up bike paths to make way for highly efficient autos of the future …

  • Debra Storr

    Copenhagen’s cycle usage drops by 30% over the winter (and there are specific campaigns to to remind people to get back on their bikes in Spring). No reason why this couldn’t be the same in Hamburgh.

  • Andreas

    Well written, but it seems you put some statements wrong. It´s not true, that you desperately need a car in hamburg. we have a very well working public transport with its trains, tubes, ferrys and buses. One might need a car to get quicker to one side of the city, but you honestly don´t need it. I appreciate the thought about improving bike lane conections like in copenhagen, though!

  • lisa vadeboncoeur

    Allo Lisa

  • klaus

    Strangely none of this is being discussed in Hamburg. The city website just states that they want to improve the amount of “green” in the city. Nowhere they say that they want to ban cars.

  • morsli

    very nice project ..thanks to such deciders ..