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Car-free zones

Car-free zones within cities reduce emissions, noise and improve road safety on streets. Residents are allowed to enter, while the entry of non-residents is strictly prohibited. Furthermore, people would be attracted to take buses and coaches, which are not subject to such restrictions, to reach destinations within those zones.


Example: Since 1 January 2009, the city of Bremen has established a low-emission zone to reduce harmful emissions from vehicles and particulate pollution. Access to the zone, which covers seven square kilometres in Bremen's city centre and Neustadt district, is only permitted for low-emission vehicles that carry a red, yellow or green disc. Two subsequent phases will reduce access to the LEZ still further: phase 2 of the LEZ begins on 1 January 2010, when only vehicles with a yellow or green disc will be permitted entry. 1 July 2011 marks the start of phase 3, at which time only vehicles that have a green disc can enter the LEZ. However, coaches do not require a disc and are therefore welcome in Bremen’s low-emission zone.


For more information:

Sustainable Urban Transport, Final report from the European project Trendsetter, pp.32-33

Bremen application the IRU City Trophy Award 2009



Implementation of access control zones & creation of environmental zones

Access restrictions allowing only certain vehicles, such as collective transport by bus and coach, to enter the city centre substantially improve the use of collective passenger traffic, in particular when accompanied by regulated parking management and the promotion of alternatives to cars.


However, a harmonised EU framework is needed to contribute to eliminating the current patchwork of city access rules across Europe.


Example: The largest operational access control zone is to be found in Rome, where various measures aim at improving the traffic conditions and quality of life within the city. In Stockholm, a regulation prohibiting heavy-duty diesel vehicles older than eight years to enter the city centre was introduced in 1996.


In March 2009, the Berlin administration in charge of environment matters decided that both German and foreign registered EURO III coaches will no longer need to register for a special exemption as from 1 January 2010. As a result, all EURO III coaches will enjoy free entry into the Berlin low-emission zone until 2012.


For more information:

CIVITAS in Europe, A proven framework for progress in urban mobility, p.20

Environmental zones in European city centres, European Parliament

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