European Mobility Week gently takes people on a new journey

18 September 2021

Bremen boasts a share of about 64% of all journeys done by sustainable transport modes like public transport, cycling and walking. As a forerunner in sustainable mobility, the city couldn’t miss the participation in this year’s European Mobility Week showcasing activities under the slogan ‘Safe and Healthy with Sustainable Mobility’.

“The climate crisis does not pause,” wrote Maike Schaefer, Minister for Mobility of the Free Hanseatic City of Bremen, in her introduction to the week. Reminding everyone of the urgency to act now, especially after the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change’s report, Schaefer added that politicians have a responsibility to action: “We have no other option than to redistribute road space.”

“We need a European Decade of ‘Verkehrswende’, a turnaround in transport,” said Schaefer opening the celebration of European Mobility Week on Thursday with the annual highway bike tour organised by the Cyclists’ Federation ADFC. She also highlighted how change must be facilitated. “We need the European Mobility Week because we can gently take people along on the new journey. We can get people excited about new things,” added Schaefer.

A history of sustainable mobility

Bremen is known for investing in sustainable mobility, and its work has been recognised internationally. For example, the city won the 2019 CIVITAS ‘Transformation’ award after impressive efforts to reduce car use through car-sharing and integrated public transport, and by offering alternatives to car ownership.

In July 2020, it inaugurated the first ‘bicycle zone’ while already boasting a quarter of all journeys made by bicycle. “We are the German champion in bicycle mobility,” wrote Schaefer. The ‘bicycle zone’ applies the rules of a bicycle path to an entire neighbourhood. For example, the speed limit is set to 30 km/h; bicycle traffic has priority; side-by-side cycling is also allowed.

The infrastructure has also been adapted to make it a cycling paradise. Cobblestones were replaced with a smooth lane, corner bulges and bicycle stand provide a better overview, bike parking racks were added, the surrounding streets were equipped with safe crossing possibilities, an air pump and charging stations for e-bikes were created. A bicycle repair café was added as well as bike-sharing and cargo bike rental facilities.

Bremen’s commitment to sustainable mobility extends to goods as the city took a leading role in testing solutions to make on-demand delivery more sustainable. In the framework of the EU funded project ‘Urban Logistics as an on-Demand Service’ (ULaaDS), Bremen will test sustainable alternatives for delivery solutions, such as the ‘Fietje’ free cargo bike renting scheme and the Urban-Bre project, which uses electric cargo bikes for the last-mile delivery.

Having fun while tackling issues

More than 2,500 cyclists already participated in the inaugural bike tour asking for “more space for cycling”, and Bremen is proposing more activities that highlight important issues related to mobility as part of this year’s European Mobility Week programme.

The ‘BIKE IT! Film Night Ride Velobility’ will bring short movies on the move that question the places for mobility. ‘PARK(ing) Day’ proposes to citizens to become urban architects and redesign the parking spaces in the city. “Cities are built for people, not for cars. Find a parking space and design your place the way you like it,” recites the event description.

A more classic debate will tackle autonomous driving, discussing its opportunities and risks. The gender divide in cycling is brought up with a smile with the ‘Fancy Women Bike Ride’: “Gentlemen are welcome to accompany, but are asked to dress appropriately, like gentlemen,” reads the event announcement. And on World Clean-up day, the city will combine collecting rubbish and learning stand-up paddling.

From workshops to ‘walkshops’, from events playing with music and culture to the ‘kidical mass’, Bremen is bringing people together to share ideas on how the city can become more liveable. As Schaefer reminded everyone in her introduction, “sometimes we have to throw our cherished habits overboard.” But if we prove our flexibility, we will find new ways to enjoy the city and fight climate change.

Photo: Minister Maike Schaefer opening the bike demonstration on highways


Wilma Dragonetti Eurocities Writer