Reducing car dependence in the heart of Europe: lessons from Germany, Austria, and Switzerland

Research output: Contribution to journalResearch articleContributedpeer-review


  • Ralph Buehler - , Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University (Author)
  • John Pucher - , Rutgers - The State University of New Jersey, New Brunswick (Author)
  • Regine Gerike - , Chair of Mobility System Planning (Author)
  • Thomas Götschi - , University of Zurich (Author)


Munich, Berlin, Hamburg, Vienna, and Zurich–the largest cities in Germany, Austria, and Switzerland–have significantly reduced the car share of trips over the past 25 years in spite of high motorisation rates. The key to their success has been a coordinated package of mutually reinforcing transport and land-use policies that have made car use slower, less convenient, and more costly, while increasing the safety, convenience, and feasibility of walking, cycling, and public transport. The mix of policies implemented in each city has been somewhat different. The German cities have done far more to promote cycling, while Zurich and Vienna offer more public transport service per capita at lower fares. All five of the cities have implemented roughly the same policies to promote walking, foster compact mixed-use development, and discourage car use. Of the car-restrictive policies, parking management has been by far the most important. The five case study cities demonstrate that it is possible to reduce car dependence even in affluent societies with high levels of car ownership and high expectations for quality of travel.


Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)4-28
Number of pages25
JournalTransport reviews
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2 Jan 2017


ASJC Scopus subject areas


  • Car dependence, cycling, parking management, public transport, sustainability, walking, Western Europe