Zurich to remove over 6.000 parking spaces in new cycle route expansion
Authorities in Zurich have confirmed that they will be removing 6.000 parking spaces around the city so that cyclists and pedestrians have more space. However, the plan has not gone down well with drivers and some entrepreneurs, who argue it will make parking in the largest Swiss city even harder than it already is and put pressure on businesses. The issue has now been decided in court.
Blue parking zones in Zurich to be converted into cycle lanes
According to 20 Minuten, the city council of Zurich has announced that they will be dismantling around 6.000 parking spaces over the next few years. The majority of the removed spaces will be in blue zones in the city's central areas - blue parking spaces can be used by all drivers for a set period of time, so long as a blue parking disc is placed in the front windscreen of your car and any additional parking charges are paid. Parking permits can also be purchased for these spaces.
The majority of the freed-up space will be used to create new expressways for cyclists around the city, quite prescient given Zurich was named one of the worst cities in Switzerland for cycling in 2022. Along with pedestrianising Zurich Main Station by 2050, and other efforts to make the city more cycling friendly, it is hoped that the new planned highways will allow those on two wheels to pass through the city without interacting with cars much at all.
New cycle lanes have public support, but face legal action
20 Minuten noted that these plans also have a popular mandate, given that a number of referendums with a pro-cycling agenda have been successfully passed over the years, most recently the "Safe Bike Route for Zurich" initiative, which was approved by over 70 percent of Swiss citizens in September 2020. However, the removal of these spaces has caused outrage among drivers and small business owners, with many saying the plans will affect their incomes.
Speaking to the newspaper, local councillor Andreas Egli said that the “new master plan will lead to drastic reductions in parking spaces. We warned against that." He argued that the policy will have drastic repercussions on small businesses, with Markus Rupper from the Trade Association of Zurich Wiedikon adding that in his part of the city, "some businesses and shops will have to close" because of the lack of spaces.
To stop the building of these new cycle highways, business associations and local business owners took Zurich to court. In their test case, they launched legal action against the removal of 13 spaces from Zurlindenstrasse in Wiedikon. On February 23, the judge handed down their decision.
Court gives new Zurich cycle lanes the green light
They ruled that there is no legal obligation to provide as many parking spaces as possible on public land. In a second earlier ruling, the judge concluded that the public interest in improving cycle lanes exceeded the interest in preserving parking. In the words of 20 Minuten, “Now it is clear that the city can dissolve as many public parking spaces as it wants.”
For Markus Knauss, a local councillor from Zurich, the verdict “could be a key decision that will take care of hundreds of appeals by themselves." He concluded that the result paved the way for further removals and will allow the local council (Gemeinde) to create more cycle routes and green spaces without having to face legal challenges every time they do it.
Image: Shutterstock.com / Bumble Dee
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