Many cities have grand plans for adding walking and biking infrastructure. What makes Hamburg’s Grünes Netz (Green Network) different is the extent. Germany’s second biggest city wants green links connecting all major parks, playgrounds, community gardens, and cemeteries, covering about 40% of the city’s area. In 20 years, it hopes people will get around without ever needing motorized transport.
Hamburg already has large contiguous green spaces: “landscape axes” finger out from its center to its outskirts and there are two big green loops in the north and south. The Grünes Netz will fill in what’s missing, connecting up more places and creating a comprehensive system. Angelika Fritsch, a city spokesperson told the Guardian:
Other cities, including London, have green rings, but the green network will be unique in covering an area from the outskirts to the city centre. In 15 to 20 years you’ll be able to explore the city exclusively on bike and foot.
The paper also describes how Hamburg plans to use the design to get more people visiting nature on the edge of the city:
Fritsch’s team envisions a network that doesn’t just help residents get from point A to point B in a sustainable fashion. “It will offer people opportunities to hike, swim, do water sports, enjoy picnics and restaurants, experience calm and watch nature and wildlife right in the city”, she explains. “That reduces the need to take the car for weekend outings outside the city..”
What’s more, it wants the countryside to come into the city: The dedicated green paths are designed to allow small animals to move about without being run over.
Hamburg’s Grünes Netz is part of a trend towards longer and more connected biking infrastructure. Having made cycling easier in the center, cities are building outwards, hoping to cut car journeys to and from the outskirts as well. Copenhagen, for example, is the midst of building 26 Cykelsupersti (Superhighways) to cater to people living within 14 miles of the city center. Hopefully, the future of urban bikeways will include the suburbs as well.