Here are a few of the transportation highlights from the Transatlantic Urban Climate Dialogue exchange that I participated in November 26-28, 2012 in the Stuttgart region.
Building on successful launches of Car2Go in Austin, TX, Vienna, Austria, Washington, DC and other major cities across the globe, Daimler launched Car2Go in Stuttgart on November 30th with an all electric fleet of Smart cars utilizing both its hardware car making prowess, and its emerging software presence in Moovel a one stop-shop designed to allow full use of smart phones and internet technologies.
Stuttgart has been expanding its light rail system across the region, both as a climate and urban mobility strategy. Since 1998, the system has grown to 128 km (80+ miles) linking the central city to the other major employment and cultural hubs in the region. Ridership on the system has grown more than 11% in the last 10 years. I was surprised to learn that Germany does not fun the capital side of transit, but rather focuses on operating assistance. This is in stark contrast to the USA. Both countries it seems though are facing dwindling public revenues for transportation investments.
Electric bikes, or Pedelecs as they are called in Germany, may offer promise for this region which has witnessed lower bicycling rates than the rest of the nation, in large part due to the hilly terrain and a less pervasive bike infrastructure. Pedelecs are also being marketed to an aging population. Over the next year, pedelec stations will be opening at several suburban rail stations and connect to Deutsche Bahn's Call a Bike program in Stuttgart. These programs are being supported by the state of Baden-Wuerttemburg as part of its commitment to reduce CO2 emissions 25% by 2020. While electric is nice, I confess to a preference for the sleek design of the DC and Twin Cities Bike Share bikes.