Planning Healthy & Child-Friendly Communities in Germany

Sven von Ungern-Sternberg, Freiburg, GERMANY

ABSTRACT: Freiburg, Germany is world-renowned not only for its sustainability but also for its child-friendly character. This was achieved not only through educational channels, playgrounds and child-friendly social programs but above all through its holistic planning vision of what is required to make the city safe, lively and attractive for children to negotiate on their own. Dr. Sven von Ungern-Sternberg, who as Mayor for 20 years supervised planning policy, explained the essential elements. “Town planning focused on creating a ‘city of short distances’, good quality urban spaces, the prevention of sprawl, and strengthening Freiburg as the economic center of the region. This in turn, supported the policy of increasing walking, cycling and public transit, the creation of livable traffic calmed streets, and the limitation of motor vehicle traffic.” The extremely high quality provisions for walking and biking, and interconnected regional railway, local transit and bus system, have resulted in a high increase of these modes, which are very friendly to children.

Dr. Ungern-Sternberg presented the design details of the traffic reduced new urban neighborhood (Rieselfeld) and older neighborhoods, as well as the traffic free city center and new urban neighborhood (Vauban). The compact, human scale mixed use urban fabric in the old city and new neighborhoods ensures a rich social fabric, and a profusion of natural play areas ensures children’s access to nature.

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