A Sustainable Urban Development Concept for Potsdam

Die Stadt Potsdam Pionier der nachhaltigen Stadtentwicklung. (c) istock/typo-graphics

By Rebecca Kutzner

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A city is home to many people. Many people means many different journeys through the city. And that usually means lots of traffic – with lots of noise and air pollution. Various measures can be taken to minimise the effects of pollution on people and the environment. Air quality plans, for example, can help to prevent air pollutants from reaching critical levels. Urban development concepts, on the other hand, focus on expanding the public transport network, among other things. The synergies created by these different measures can lead to more effective use of resources, but we must consider their effects and prioritise them accordingly.

The City of Potsdam is aiming for sustainable urban development. Hence, as part of an evaluation conducted together with the IASS, it examined 83 different development options for their potential synergies – for example, expanding park-and-ride facilities, developing the former Krampnitz Barracks and setting up a mobility agency, which by providing people with information on the public transport service and cycling facilities will hopefully convince them to leave the car at home more often. We assessed the measures according to the following criteria: climate protection, air pollution, noise pollution, road safety, green mobility (e.g. using public transport, cycling, walking) and quality of life.

Potsdam aims for an urban development that takes account of air quality, climate protection and noise

The project, which began in early 2013 and runs until the end of 2015 and was led by Julia Schmale and Erika von Schneidemesser on the IASS side, aims to support attractive and sustainable mobility options in the city, which will benefit city residents and visitors alike. For example, expanding the existing network of bicycle lanes and increasing the number of rental bikes in Potsdam will not just help to reduce noise and pollution from exhaust gases; it will also change how we experience and discover the city. Expanding the public transport service has the potential to reduce car usage. This project shows that the City of Potsdam is not just following a trend, but also thinking about the future and pioneering a new kind of urban development that takes account of air quality, climate protection and noise.

After evaluating the efficiency of various measures, our project group gathered data on noise pollution, traffic levels as well as public transport accessibility for disabled users over a period of several months. Much of this data built on the existing internal statistics of the city administration. We then processed the data and summarised our main findings in a report for the city administration. The data indicates that an expansion of Potsdam’s public transport network will be essential to upgrade the service at the city limits and meet the transportation needs of a growing population in the coming years. Based on this report, subsequent evaluations can be carried out after measures have been taken, for example, to assess whether the planned development and connection of the Krampnitz Barracks to the tram network has been effective. We hope that this work will chart the progress of measures to reduce air pollution and protect the climate in the city, while also showing that Potsdam has become an even more attractive place to live.

Photo: Brandenburg Gate in Potsdam (istock/typo-graphics)

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