The city of Strasbourg was among the pioneers in France to ban individual cars from its city centre and reintroduce a tramway across the city. In the process it reduced the number of parking spaces in the city and increased the cost of those remaining, while giving free parking spaces beside the terminus of the tramway to induce the use of public transport. Today, 20 years after the first tramway line became operational, the 6 lines serving 69 stations on 56 km of track is the longest in France, and is synchronized with the city’s bus system, with 30 urban lines and 11 interurban lines carrying passengers over 11 million km every year. During the past decade, Strasbourg has created the longest urban bicycle lane in France and numerous public squares and recreational spaces. Establishing a weekly farmers’ market in one of the public squares in the city centre and an exhibition hall for local agricultural goods in a historic monument of the former Customs House were part of the city government’s initiatives to support the short-supply food chain movement and give new visibility to local farmers and food industries. In addition, the ‘zero pesticide’ policy adopted by the municipality is changing the vegetation of the urban green spaces with weeds previously destroyed now being a feature of the landscape design.
The city’s expansion towards the Rhine River to connect Strasbourg to the German city of Kehl has demonstrated new environmentally-sensitive urban residential projects, a third of which are designated for low-income families. These so-called eco-districts are built around the natural heritage of historic waterways and urban green spaces. Complemented by its numerous higher education institutes and a wide array of cultural activities ensured by 30% of the municipal budget devoted to culture, Strasbourg has banked on a people-centred strategy to boost the liveability of the city.
Source: Minja Yang, Humanizing cities through culture