Within the framework of the fifth visit of foreign experts in SUMP development, Rupert Wimmer, Head of Mobility planning and Urban Design office of the City of Zurich, delivered a speech. He also was advising the Lviv Working Group during the two-day visit.
The presentation was made for wide range of the public, in which he related shortly about the transport planning of the city of Zurich, as well as about development and implementation of the current mobility strategy.
It is commonly known that there is no official capital in Switzerland, that is why Zurich is called the economic capital of the Confederation. The majority of jobs are concentrated here, and they are more numerous than the citizens. There are 424 thousand people living in Zurich, and 456 000 people working there, which creates considerable pendulum migration. At the same time, the population of the agglomeration is about 1 million people. The city is densely built-up and has an area of 92 square kilometers, that is, the density of population is 4,7 thousand people per square kilometer.
Zurich’s awakening: morning mobility (2016)
Starting from 1960-s, the population of the city was decreasing, and this tendency was present up to the early 1990-s, when the lowest number was recorded. This was particularly connected with development and accessibility of automobiles for the general population, which gave people an opportunity to drive long distances and live outside the city. Starting from 2000, Zurich’s population is constantly increasing, and according to alternative forecasts, its population will total from 429 thousand to 465 thousand people, which poses a challenge to municipal government, since the new citizens will need residential space and more effective modes of transportation across the city.
Since 90’s, year by year, street by street, the city space started to take a turn to people, and people started to turn back to the city. Now there are more pedestrian zones and less transport in the city center.
As Mr. Rupert recounted, for five decades in a row, Zurich had undergone several drastic changes, which had influenced the city and the urban mobility and given it a current look.
In 1960-1970-s, the city fathers and planners were sure that Zurich had to be built as a metropolitan. There were several projects, one of which envisaged underground tram lines in the city center. As it is known, Switzerland is a country of direct democracy, so, for this reason, a couple of referendums were announced, and according to the results of the last one, held in 1973, the citizens ultimately voted against it. Later on, the project was adapted for the suburban railway with trestle (railway bridges) in the city, which is now known as S-Bahn or urban train. It was launched in 1990.
In 1974, the fundamental principles for transportation policy were approved:
1. Set ceiling on MPT
2. Channelling (redirect traffic from the residential streets to main)
3. Traffic separation: Promote public transport
For the next three years, a considerable sum of 200 million CHF was invested in improvement of the public transport functioning.
In 1989 norm on parking automobiles was initiated with gradual complementation over the following years. At this time a decision on parking maximums was approved, thus the quantity of parking slots in new housing projects could not exceed this limitation.
In 1991, first zones (a street or several streets within a block) with speed limitation of 30 km/h appeared.
The year 1996 was marked by the first parking compromise in history. In Zurich, a fixed number of parking lots was set, and since that moment their quantity cannot grow. Thus, while building new off-street parking facilities, street parking lots are eliminated.
In 2001, the first mobility strategy was developed and approved.
In 8 years, the Western Bypass (automobile road) was built, which allowed for unloading the streets in the west of the city, in particular, of freight and transit transport.
In 2011, a tramline to the west of the city (former industrial area) was launched. Also, public initiative “Promote public transport, pedestrian and bicycle traffic in Zurich”*, according to which the number of private car trips had to drop by 10 per cent, was approved.
In 2012, the program “City traffic 2025” was launched, and in 2015 the initiative “Cycling initiative”, which is a counter offer to the previous one, approved in 2011, and encourages the development of cycle traffic in the city, was approved.
Mobility compatible with the city
In Zurich, growth of population is both a challenge and new opportunities. In urban planning, we prioritize effective mobility modes, since the space (physical area) is the most valuable and, at the same time, the most limited resource. The highest priority is given to pedestrian and cyclist’s, insofar as short and middle distances are concerned, since walking and cycling do not require much of the street space. For public transport more space is needed (up to 20 square meters), and for cars huge space is needed.
All this is recorded in the urban mobility strategy Mobility compatible with the city. It comprises 6 objectives:
- Improve the availability and attrectiveness of public transport, walking and cycling
- No increase in the capacity for motorised private traffic
- Increase the quality of public spaces
- Increase the modal split of public transport, walking and cycling
- Protect residents from the negative impact of transport (pollution, noise, and risk of accidents)
- Implement the 2000W Society in the area of mobility (less energy consumption)
According to these objectives, the action plan for the territory of the city was elaborated. The actions are subdivided by years, and at the end of each year, the management prepares a report with a further assessment of the implementation of the action plan.
An important element of the strategy is high standards for public transport, which includes dense network of tram and bus lines, tight schedule (7.5 minute interval during peak travel times), convenience and simple accessibility, and preference given to PT at traffic lights.
The majority of enumerated objectives are achieved through the maximum priority of the public transport. The city is old and densely built-up, thus construction of additional separated tram line is not always possible, therefore other measures are applied using traffic lights, public transport lanes (with the help of marking), etc., so that the tram or the trolleybus do not stack in the traffic jam and avoid movement in the same lane with automobiles wherever it is possible.
Dense network for pedestrians
Dense network of qualitative spaces for pedestrians, the width of sidewalks and the quality of surface, the frequency of pedestrian crossings, and safety of movement – all this is important to encourage people to walk short distances. The waiting time for the green light of the traffic lights at the majority of regulated crossroads does not exceed 45 seconds, more rarely 60 seconds, which is also important.
Additional measures include pedestrian bridges (over a river or railway) without vehicular traffic, as well as the streets (zones) with 30 and 20 km/h speed limit for all vehicles, which allows to make them safe for all.
Zurich is a historical city with rather narrow streets, which added to the complexity of the task of creating qualitative cycling infrastructure.
There are two types of cycling infrastructure in the city – a street one, designed and suitable for everyday fast travels across the city, and a recreational one – designed for relaxed travels, the routes of which go through the green zones, quays and picturesque places.
It is important to have places, where an ample quantity of bicycles can be left, and there are such places near every station and in the center of Zurich. In addition to this, all new housing projects should have parking slots for bicycles as well as for cars.
What about vehicles, which still affect the city, since the goal is set not to allow the increasing of percentage of this transport mode. Every morning at the entrances to the city, the traffic lights work in the “dosage“ mode, in order not to create a collapse in the city, automobile transport is “slowed down” in the outskirts, and let drive in short intervals (10 seconds for the green light, and 20 seconds for the red one), with public transport having the priority to move first. As a result, traffic jams are transferred to less sensitive areas, which allows to avoid the inrush of transport in the center.
It is important to control not only the quantity of transport, but also its speed, as it directly affects the quality of the city environment and health of its citizens. That is why, on the majority of the secondary streets, there is a speed limit of 30 and 20 km/h, and in the main streets, the speed limit is mostly 50 km/h, less or more than that (rarer), depending on the situation.
On parking compromise
The city is subdivided into zones, and within the limits of central zone A, the residential/office area of which is 2400 square meters, only 10 per cent of the usual quantity of parking slots is allowed, that is 2 parking slots instead of 20 ones. Such limitations were implemented for the first time in 1996, and in 2015 they were revised and complemented.
In the city streets, parking (where it is allowed) is also limited in time, depending on the zone, with the maximum standing time ranging from 1 to 4 hours during the day (working hours).
The Office promote and support various events, in particular, awareness building campaigns for the residents, discussions and instruction.
While such a strategy is being implemented, it is important to constantly check your position on the way to your goal. This could be, for example, monitoring the modal split (traffic percentage) every 5 years (different modes of transport: walking, cycling, public transport, and cars).
One more important element is the control of citizens’ satisfaction.
In Zurich, 91 per cent of the surveyed in 2015 were satisfied with public transport.
77 per cent were satisfied with the conditions for walking.
What concerns the satisfaction with vehicular and bicycle traffic, here the percentage is lower (37 and 27 per cent correspondingly), which demonstrates that not enough has been made for improving cycling conditions. That is why the percentage of this mode constitutes only 6 per cent (compare with Lviv: about 2 per cent).