MOBILITY TRANSITION MADE IN COLOGNE
Dear polisMOBILITY Visitors, Dear Guests,
I’m delighted to welcome you to Cologne’s first mobility trade fair.
As the city’s mayor, I am proud that Cologne is being transformed into a living lab for the future of urban mobility for this event. Together with Koelnmesse, the City of Cologne is bringing the core issues of the mobility transition to the trade fair and the city.
polisMOBILITY is in good hands with us: As a city with more than a million residents, which serves as one of the most important transport hubs in Western Europe, we want Cologne to make a decisive contribution to a successful mobility and climate transition across the entire region and beyond. This is a particularly demanding task in Cologne. After our city was largely destroyed by war, the urban structures that had evolved over the course of the centuries were not rebuilt. On the contrary, with a broad stroke, a new car-centric city was planned, and built-in priority given to passenger vehicles. This approach to Cologne’s reconstruction was implemented so thoroughly – and became so deeply entrenched mentally – that today our city’s car-centricity is a heavy burden to shoulder as we embark on the transformation of urban mobility.
In the 21st century, the requirements that we expect of mobility in a metropolis and a likeable, liveable city are very different. People want to be able to get about conveniently by foot and bike; they want an attractive local public transport system. They long for green urban spaces, for streets that give a sense of well-being and for a slower pace in residential and commercial areas. They want independent, smart and interconnected ways to travel across the city. All these expectations stand against the backdrop of the climate emergency. In Cologne, we have set ourselves the target of already being climate-neutral by 2035. This can be achieved only by acting with determination in the field of mobility as well. We must transform our mobility in the true sense of the term.
It’s clear to me that we have no time to lose. We need safe foot and cycle paths, a well-developed bus and rail network with attractive timetables, climate-neutral logistics and, in private transport, we absolutely need to switch to climate-friendly drives – and we need all of this today, not tomorrow. If we want to reduce the share of motor vehicles in the transport mix, this means expanding alternative provision in all areas and approaching mobility with networked thinking. Thanks to digitalisation, we are able to develop entirely new mobility services that suit people’s individual situations.
It is against this backdrop that polisMOBILITY brings everyone together around one table: decision makers from politics, the economy and public administration, managers from the fields of mobility and transport planning, innovative mobility companies, transport authorities and last, but by no means least, the broad public – because without the willingness to make the change on their part, any mobility transition is doomed to fail. I am looking forward to an interesting exchange of ideas from very different perspectives, to exciting trade fair showcases, a strong conference programme and a diverse experience of the new mobility on Rudolfplatz and in many other places in the city.
As polisMOBILITY opens to the public, I would like us to take another look at Cologne and to consider all the changes that we have already set in motion in the field of mobility over the past years. One of the most powerful tools at our disposal is the reallocation of the transport space. Especially in densely built, car-centric cities, such as Cologne, there is absolutely no alternative but to reduce the areas available for car and parked traffic and to redistribute this space primarily to pedestrian and cycle traffic. Promoting cycling is – alongside promoting local public transport – one of the anchor points of the mobility transition, a transition that is forging ahead in Cologne. It can already be experienced on one of the key routes through our city, the Cologne Ring, where two car lanes have been made into cycle paths. In many places we are rolling out such projects and creating a continuous cycle path network.
Some other headlines from the rapid transition in Cologne: the one thousand new charging points on public streets to promote e-mobility, the largest amount of public funding for cargo bikes in Germany to support zero-emissions goods transport on the last mile, more recreational spaces, more outdoor cafes and restaurants instead of car-parking spaces, one of the first micro hubs for smart city logistics in Cologne’s Deutz district, many other innovative projects to digitalise the transport systems. By 2030, all the buses operated by the municipal transport authority, Kölner Verkehrs-Betriebe, are to be zero-emissions. By running longer trains on busy routes, the light-rail network will be able to transport more passengers, and connections to other city districts and the surrounding region will be improved. We want to make the connections between the two banks of the Rhine even better with new cycle bridges and a water-bus pilot project. We have introduced on-demand services in the outlying districts of the city.
So, there is a lot happening here in Cologne, and the changes are becoming more and more visible. You can find out more for yourself at our stand at polisMOBILITY. One thing is particularly important to me as we embark on transformation: that we have the citizens on board and that we engage in a dialogue with them. I’m therefore delighted that there are so many free opportunities for all the people of Cologne to get involved – at the cityHUB and the polisCAMP on Rudolfplatz, for instance, but also in many other places across the whole city.
For all of us, polisMOBILITY can be a source of inspiration for a successful mobility transition that takes place in people’s minds just as much as it does on the streets.
I hope you will find plenty of inspiration at polisMOBILITY. Enjoy discovering the mobility metropolis Cologne!
Mayor of the City of Cologne
Oliver Frese, Chief Operating Officer Koelnmesse