Taking a stroll or cycling
HafenCity has more footpaths and cycling routes than any other part of Hamburg. About 70 per cent of footpaths run separated from motorized traffic and a lot of them parallel to the water’s edge
Routes of pedestrian pathways and cycling tracks often run separated from motorized traffic - the most attractive ones go directly along the waterfront (© ELBE&FLUT)
It is easy to leave the car in the garage in HafenCity: the central inner-city location and fine-grained mix of uses in the new part of town often make long trips unnecessary. For instance, pedestrians have two and a half times more kilometers of paths at their disposal than motorists. The ratio of footpaths to streets in other districts of Hamburg is not nearly as favorable. In Eimsbüttel, a popular late 19th century quarter, building density is the same but the ratio is only 5:4.
The route system in HafenCity is also convincing in efficiency terms. Few long blocks of buildings will be constructed, so pedestrians will seldom have to waste time circumnavigating them; throughways are often available where there are free-standing buildings. Here passers-by are often traversing private land. But site owners have been contractually obliged to make such pathways permanently accessible. So pedestrians - and cyclists too - often have a choice of various routes that lead to the same destination.
In many places two paths may even run along in parallel. For in HafenCity, buildings, roads and many foot or cycle paths are situated on flood-protected elevations at 7.5 to 8 meters above mean sea-level. Areas directly on the quay edge, however, which are often very wide strips of embankment, are at the historically low level of 4 to 5.5 meters above mean sea level. They are mainly landscaped for use as promenades and squares for pedestrians and cyclists. Connections between the different height levels are by steps and ramps, which can also be used by cyclists as well as people with mobility limitations; they form attractive and direct associations with the water.
The long-distance Elbe cycling route also passes through HafenCity. It can even be followed without a bike of one’s own - as can any other cycling route - by using one of the red rental bicycles, available in future in HafenCity from four stations, as part of the Hamburg-wide bike rental system. But those who prefer to use their own bike will find plenty of parking facilities for it.
The HafenCity path system is thus outstanding for its attractiveness and efficiency; however the most important criterion during the planning of them was the safety of its users. This is ensured by clever routing: around 70 per cent of cycling and foot paths run on promenades or bridges or through squares, away from auto traffic. In addition, there will be cycling paths or side-strips running next to vehicle lanes with more than 10,000 vehicle movements per day. Like the cycling paths running independently from motorized traffic, they will be laid out successively as soon as all buildings are completed or occupied in a street or neighborhood.
In streets reserved for residents, the planners worked on the principle of mixed means of transport: here bikes and car drivers have to share the road. Traffic research has shown that, on less busy roads, this has the effect of making car drivers take more care, so the risk of accidents declines. So cyclists and pedestrians are not going to meet head on with motorized traffic very often. But where they do, the safe coexistence of the various traffic participants will be safeguarded. In the meantime, planning of "shared spaces" is being stipulated, and will be found for instance in Baakenhafen and Strandkai.