Zurich and Basel among the cities to announce car-free days this year

Zurich and Basel among the cities to announce car-free days this year

In recent years, the idea of having a regular, designated car-free day has spread to many Swiss cities. From the mountains to the country’s largest metropolis, here are places that are planning car-free days in the future.

1. Zurich planning city-wide car-free day

Switzerland’s largest city, Zurich, is planning to start car-free Saturdays in the future. The plans would coax drivers out of their cars and onto the streets, with the most congested parts of the city transforming into spaces for pedestrians and cyclists.

The new scheme would see several Saturdays each year allocated as “car-free.” On these days, cars would be banned from the districts (Kreis) of the city, leaving the roads free for walking, street parties and events.

The plan was passed by the cantonal government in March, with its organisers hoping the experience will help families and individuals get to know their neighbours and neighbourhood. In recent years, the city has also started the Brings uf d'Strass campaign, which pedestrianises several streets in Zurich during the summer holidays.

2. Basel to trial an on and off system for cars

Not to be outdone, city rivals Basel have also begun to consider a proposal for car-free days in city districts. Their plan involves banning cars from certain areas on certain days, leading to a Singapore-style “on and off” system for driving within the city.

The Great Council of Basel is now developing the idea so it can be enacted this year. Supporters argue that the plans will reduce the city's carbon footprint, and allow workers from different backgrounds to come together and socialise on their way to work.

3. Winterthur gives car-free Sundays the green light

Switzerland’s sixth-largest city, Winterthur, is also planning to say goodbye to cars in its own car-free Sunday scheme. Passing the council recently, car-free Sundays will be piloted for four days a year until 2025, when a more wide-ranging scheme is planned.

Unlike Basel and Zurich, Winterthur doesn’t have the authority to block so-called “cantonal roads,” meaning that its scheme will be isolated to “car-free main axes” and “car-free districts” as opposed to a blanket ban. 

The city council hopes that the scheme will “make people aware of the value of low-traffic streets.” The first car-free Sunday will take place in the city on September 25.

4. Andermatt plans to join other Swiss ski resorts in banning cars

Finally, the Swiss village of Andermatt has presented its own plan for banning cars and trucks in the winter. The ski resort has been plagued by traffic for years, with the winter holidays causing the worst problems as tourists flock to the mountains.

The village experimented with car-free days last year, which were highly popular with guests, shops and restaurants alike. In the future, Andermatt plans to go the way of Zermatt, Crans Montana and other ski resorts in banning cars altogether.

Jan de Boer


Jan de Boer

Editor for Switzerland at IamExpat Media. Jan studied History at the University of York and Broadcast Journalism at the University of Sheffield. Though born in York, Jan has lived most...

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