Karlsruhe wants more healthy mobility and accessibility: public space and mobility in the city center

Karlsruhe. Space for more healthy mobility and accessibility, space for more green space and space for more public living – these three core principles were the focus of an online workshop recently launched by the City Planning Office as the end of this year’s public relations work on the IQ pilot project “Public Spaces and City Mobility” Interior” (ÖRMI). Among others, there were representatives from associations of citizens, various social groups, transport service providers, transport associations as well as from business, environment, culture and science.

The office community commissioned around “Büro Gehl Architects” from Copenhagen presented the first rough concept of public space and mobility in the city centre. This is based on the analysis and results of the forms of participation that have already been implemented. A number of recommendations and initial plans for the office community were then discussed together based on the three basic principles.

When it comes to space for more healthy mobility And Ease of access It was a proposal to reorganize the parking spaces and create space for other uses. City logistics and deliveries need to be rethought and integrated. The degree of “car freedom” should be viewed differently by location. Conflict between transmission modes is reduced by prioritizing transmission networks.

Space for more green It should be there, with the inner city being rendered green and vibrant in the future rather than gray and sealed. For this purpose, green links must be created with the environment for more permeability and ventilation, better microclimate and to allow more biodiversity and diversity of green spaces. But it also means that living quarters do not become continually getting fuller and fuller through subsequent structural densification – and residents, for example, no longer find any parking space for cars and motorbikes!

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In order to make room for more public life, neighborhoods must be strengthened and rethought. Mobility and open space concepts should be installed – specifically every quarter. Public spaces need updating, and every square meter counts here. What is needed is more opportunity to survive, and a balance between commercial and non-commercial offerings is required. Life must be made visible, for example through more culture in the public spaces and revitalization of the ground floor areas. The focus is particularly on children and young adults, who need more invitations to play.

Specific requirements and wants formulated
During the live discussion of these points at the expert symposium, participants formulated specific requirements and desires for the city center, such as “a smart blend of logistics and public life” or “barrier-free meeting spaces,” depending on their professional background and exposure. However, the dominant desires of the future city center are geared towards “accommodation quality and luxury, separation of bicycle and pedestrian traffic to avoid conflict”, as well as “better togetherness and diversity”. Often the participants particularly wanted “more shade and green”. One participant’s desire for “Magic Places and Ports of Surprise” touched on the theme of “Inner City as an Experience Space”, which will be more of a focus in the future.

Focus on poor access to the city center
The exchange of different points of view and arguments on the topic of mobility showed that there are different needs, visions and requests for use of the inner city, depending on how it is affected. The similarities in the discussion lie in the demand for easy access to the city center for all. However, there was also a desire to create a priority network that would prioritize cycling and walking in many places downtown without blocking vehicular traffic per se.

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Think of the elderly
Establishing this balance in prioritizing – here, too, the unanimous discussion group – was difficult. However, a visionary rethinking of urban planning in favor of new uses and qualities is worthwhile. But in many of these simulation games, the needs of the elderly are not taken into account accordingly!

Space required for more green
In the discussion about downtown green space, it became apparent that the desire for more green space and shade for downtown went hand in hand with the need for space. In addition to the islands of residence, important cycling and walking connections must also be made greener and more attractive. In this context, the desire for further study and careful handling of public green spaces was expressed. The water houses and the downtown fountain were also highlighted.

The cooperation of various actors in the city center was an important point in the field of life. The challenge is to bring together gastronomy, trade, culture, live with each other and enable them to work together. One participant noted that reassessments and measures for individual areas should not lead to displacement. For example, by moving or redirecting car traffic, other residential areas should not lose their quality. Others have called for more space for experiences and culture and a simplified rededication of car parks to make them multifunctional if necessary. However, when advocating for alternative uses, one also has to consider financial support for the culture.

The information and suggestions from the invited experts are now being evaluated and verified to see if and how they can be incorporated into the concept and what are the requirements arising from the contributions of the concept. In the spring and summer of 2022, two real laboratories are scheduled to be held in public places to test the proposed procedures. In the fall of 2022, the concept of “public space and mobility in the inner city” will be discussed in the Municipal Council.

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