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Imagine this Innsbruck street without cars

Innsbruck presents plan to make city centre car-free

Innsbruck presents plan to make city centre car-free

Mayor Georg Willi expressed his desire to commit to the ambitious goal, making it a reality in the next five years

On Thursday, the Austrian city of Innsbruck presented the results of a feasibility study into redesigning the city centre as a car-free space. According to the study, the project is possible after large scale redevelopment. Mayor Georg Willi expressed his desire to realise the ambitious goal in the next five years, as he will try to get support for the redevelopment in the city council in autumn.

Power to the pedestrians

One of the key areas the study focused on is designing a pedestrian-friendly city centre without any parked cars. Instead of parking spaces along the streets, the project proposes wider sidewalks and bike lanes, opening up the city centre to a bigger pedestrian crowd.

The increased pedestrian capacity should have a positive impact on businesses in the highlighted area. Usually, walkable areas bring in a lot more customers that have the time to browse, instead of jumping in and out of a car.

The exclusion from parking would also affect the residents of the city centre, as they would be forced to park outside of the designated green zone (no-parking zone). At the same time, the city does not want to shift the weight of parked vehicles to the centre-adjacent neighbourhoods, as this would not fix the problem, but create massive pileups outside the centre.

Instead, the proposition calls for creating underground parking in nearby areas or in the green zone itself. Thus, the main idea of the car-free city centre is to remove cars from the street in whatever way possible.

The time for a car-free Innsbruck is now

The move would also benefit air quality as cars are still the biggest CO2 emitter in Austria. Mayor Georg Willi underlined the urgency of pushing for green reforms saying that cities should be the driver of innovation. He pointed out Paris and Freiburg as models for car-free infrastructure and said that the time is now for Innsbruck.

Currently, there are 10,000 parking spaces in the designated green zone. That roughly corresponds to around ten football fields filled with cars and removing those parking spaces from the centre could create massive problems for the city.

This is why Mayor Willi called for a moderate and gradual approach to the redevelopment so that this precise problem can be avoided. He paid particular attention to the fact that despite the desire for a car-free centre, adequate infrastructure has to be in place to handle the shifting demand.  

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