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Transport and urban form – a German model?

A special issue of The Revue Géographique de l’Est is being planned for the end of 2016 on the topic as outlined above. Paper submission deadline is June 30, 2015. Proposals (title and short summary) should be made to the Director of the issue  - Anne Hecker : If the proposal is accepted, article must be returned at the end of 2015 for evaluation (first half 2016). A final return after correction is expected in September 2016. The publication of standards specified at:

A more "sustainable" territorial organization raised growing concerns. Urban growth and decay, the role and efficiency of public and active transportation, a greater coordination among sectoral policies focus particular attention. In Germany, the measures implemented at different geographical levels lead to a two-fold observation. Firstly, it reviews the new account taken of two leaders of land-use planning: urban planning and transportation. Secondly, German laws have been working for decades to link these sectoral policies, too often considered separately. Germany seems to be a country that tends to control its automobility, and works to link urban-planning and mobility into an integrated policy approach. In France, planning documents initiate a reflexion for a better coordination between urban planning et public transport.

The case of Germany is instructive. Sectoral policies are an integral part in the search for a more sustainable development. As regards the urbanization, measures such as legislation, “decentralized concentration” ... work towards less urban sprawl and better locations, in a complex expansion of settlements combined with urban decay, especially in the new Länder. Federal measures aimed at strengthening the vitality of town centers, and combatting uncontrolled urbanization on greenfield sites on the city’s outskirts.

They also promote less automobility : the support given to pedestrians and cyclists puts German cities at the forefront of soft mobility ; streetcar, long preserved while Western Europe was dismantling its networks, sees a renewal and strengthening of its traditional networks, and the creation of new lines ex nihilo; rapid rail S-Bahn serves large cities, including towns of the German polycentric urban structure ; innovations emerge, like the tram-train ... conducive measures to better mobility are numerous.

These sectoral policies that cities and regions implement according to leeway given by federal system are part of a wider urban policy. To reach sustainability, urban planning and public transport are thus intertwined. The early and effective federal measures for an urbanization subjected to public transport are now delivering tangible, but also varied results - Länder and cities are involved and apply measures to different degrees. These measures, their efficiency, failures and evolution deserve more sustained analysis, including actors’ strategies, placing them in the overall context of urbanization and German mobility.

These practices and results can be confronted with the practices of other countries, especially France. It also raises the question of the birth of a new model of original German urban development. They also raise questions about possible effective and efficient interaction between urban form and public transport.

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