Prof Kevin Leyden, an American now based at NUI Galway’s Centre for Innovation and Structural Change, was struck by how hard Freiburg has “worked and planned to be energy-efficient and carbon-conscious as well as creating real neighbourhoods with a sense of place. There is also a commitment to green space, playgrounds and local shops”. Dr Daseking, who has been Freiburg’s chief planner for 27 years, said the “breaking point” came in the early 1980s when the city council decided that big shopping malls on the outskirts would be “zoned out”. As a result, smaller shops had the chance to survive and “people get their daily requirements by walking or cycling, not driving”.
One of the stupid things Dublin did, and Freiburg didn’t do, was to get rid of its trams.
As a result, the city’s tramlines – running from north to south and east to west, with the main station as the network’s hub – were extended to serve new “fingers” of development stretching out in all four directions – including new suburbs like Vauban and Riesefeld.
Housing is socially mixed, with rich and poor living in close proximity, on remarkably quiet streets devoid of through-traffic. Children play in green areas or quite safely on the streets. “By building like this, you can influence the use of cars,” Dr Daseking said. “Freiburg has only 440 cars per 1,000 in population, but in Vauban it’s only 85 per 1,000”.
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