Policy Instruments


Pedestrian Areas and Routes

SummaryFirst principles assesmentEvidence on performancePolicy contributionComplementary instrumentsReferences

Evidence on performance

Context Pedestrianisation schemes have been implemented in Germany since 1965. These results for several cities are taken from Hass-Klau (1993).

Impact on demand

Summary of Changes in Pedestrian Flows (as a result of Pedestrianisation)
The percentage changes in pedestrian flows in a set of cities where data was available, is shown in Table 1. Hass-Klau (1993) concludes that while there is considerable variation, many towns show increases in the region of 20-40%. However, Hass-Klau points to the fact that since we are dealing with percentage changes, and the base numbers are not given, the percentage change itself might be misleading.

Table 1: Impact of Pedestrianisation Schemes in Germany




25% increase in pedestrian flows after 12 years


28-40% increase within one year of change


18% growth three years after completion


31% growth after one year and 40% growth after 4 years


69% growth 5 years after completion


26% growth 2 years after completion


20% increase following street closure but before reconstruction
was completed






Source: Hass-Klau (1993)

Impact on supply

Due to pedestrianisation, it will be the case that the supply of road space is reduced with priority being given to pedestrians. However there is no information on the percentage change in the supply in each of the cities studied.

Other impacts

The most interesting point of Hass-Klau (1993) was the detailed examination of the impacts of pedestrianisation on firm profitability and turnover.  Based on questionnaires sent to firms within and outside pedestrianised areas, the findings with regard to changes in turnover are summarised in Table 2. Note that this data was collected in 1978 at the time when the Federal Republic of Germany (“West Germany”) was also growing rapidly, and Germany as a whole was not unified. The presence of the control group (i.e. businesses outside the pedestrian areas) helps to strengthen the robustness of the results.  This data suggests that pedestrianisation helps to improve the turnover for businesses in the retailing and food industry but has a much less positive impact for the hotel industry. This analysis is consistent with the expectation that increased pedestrian flows can lead to an increase in passing traffic and businesses that rely on this (such as restaurants and retail shops) would benefit from the pedestrianisation. At the same time, it is also likely that pedestrians prefer to shop in the pedestrian zone and hence the change could be due to shifts (from one business to another) in turnover rather than new turnover (i.e. totally new business).

Table 2: Percentages of businesses indicating different effects on turnover







Pedestrianised Areas/Sector



No Change

















Outside Pedestrianised Areas/Sector



No Change













Source: Hass-Klau (1993)

Land-use  -  mobility integration in Freiburg

Context: For more than three decades the City of Freiburg im Breisgau has pursued an environmentally friendly urban development policy in which transport plays an important role. The city has had a targeted policy to improve conditions for pedestrians, cyclists and public transport. Carefully considered architectural elements connect the various city spaces.

The concept was approved in 1969 with the first Transport Plan (Generalverkehrsplan ) and, since then, the city has developed many pioneering plans and measures, including establishing cycle lanes, banning traffic from the city centre, introducing Germany’s first transferable flat-rate travel card and building a city and suburban railway.
Its objectives were:

  • To reduce traffic in the city and give priority to local public transport, cyclists and pedestrians;
  • To create a rational balance between all modes of transport;
  • To create global traffic calming and concentrate private vehicles onto well constructed main arteries;
  • To control parking in public spaces.

During the 1980s, the city council encouraged by neighbourhood associations to vote for traffic-calm in all residential neighbourhoods to 30km/h and to discourage through traffic in residential areas. The re-authorization of Freiburg’s transport plan in 1989 re-emphasized the explicit goal of limiting car travel and increasing use of the green modes—walking, cycling and public transport.

Vauban is an example of Freiburg’s grass roots citizen involvement in planning for land-use and transport. In the early 1990s, the city administration had plans to redevelop Vauban into a family friendly neighbourhood. This new settlement for 5,000 inhabitants was designed to attract young families and discourage them from moving to the suburbs.

Freiburg’s most recent land-use and transport plans of 2008 were developed simultaneously and are fully integrated. Both reiterate the earlier goals of reducing car use, but they are more explicit about prohibiting car-dependent developments and actively support car-free neighborhoods. Moreover, the new land-use plan identifies 30 priority locations for small retail businesses in Freiburg’s neighbourhood centers, with the goal of keeping trip distances short and assuring local accessibility on foot and by bicycle.

Since the 1980s the city center remains open only to pedestrians, cyclists, buses and trams. The local economy has enormously benefited, unfortunately rents for centrally located stores are among the highest in Germany meanwhile. Since most of the city center is a pedestrian area, walking makes up 23% of all travels in Freiburg. The city promotes walking by reducing difficulties and delays. For example, the maximum waiting time at pedestrian crossings is sought only 30 seconds.

Impact on demand

Due to the affordable and convenient alternatives to car use, more than one third of Freiburg residents do not own a car.

Every day, 200,000 residents make use of the system of four tram lines and 26 bus lines. Freiburg has the lowest automobile density of any city in Germany with 423 cars per 1,000 people. Vauban has even a lower automobile density than the rest of the city: 150 cars per 1000 people.

The increase of car trips in Freiburg over the last 15 years was only 1.3% while the total trips increased 30%.
Public transport passengers have increased 53% and bicycle trips have risen by 96% since 1976.
Most daily shopping trips of Vauban residents are by walking or cycling and occur within the neighbourhood itself.

Complete Street Concept in the United States

Context: Complete Streets are streets for everyone. They are designed and operated to enable safe access for all users, including pedestrians, bicyclists, motorists and transit riders of all ages and abilities. Complete Streets make it easy to cross the street, walk to shops, and cycle to work. They allow buses to run on time and make it safe for people to walk to and from train stations.

Creating Complete Streets means transportation agencies must change their approach to community roads. By adopting a Complete Streets policy, communities direct their transportation planners and engineers to routinely design and operate the entire right of way to enable safe access for all users, regardless of age, ability, or mode of transportation. This means that every transportation project will make the street network better and safer for drivers, transit users, pedestrians, and bicyclists – making the towns better places to live.

Impact on demand

  • Improved safety for all road users, in particular pedestrians: one study found that designing for pedestrians travel by installing raised medians and redesigning intersections and footpaths reduced pedestrian risk by 28%;
  • 43% of people with safe places to walk within 10 minutes of home met the recommended healthy activity levels, while just 27% of those without safe places to walk achieved healthy activity levels;


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Text edited at the Institute for Transport Studies, University of Leeds, Leeds LS2 9JT