The AGFS (the Association for Pedestrian and Bicycle-friendly Cities, Townships and Districts in North Rhine Westphalia) is a municipal network that promotes "Nahmobilität” (local mobility): "Nahmobilität” is individual mobility, preferably by foot and bike, but also with other non-motorized means of transportation (inline skates, skateboards etc.).
Membership in the AGFS
The network is growing all the time. It started in 1993 with 13 members. By the year 2000 this figure had risen to nearly 30. Today (08/2016) there are already 79 cities, townships and districts member. This means apporx. 11,688,000 citizens of North Rhine Westphalia. The hope is to raise this to a hundred by 2020. Members must have been certified by the state ministry of transport (MBWSV) as pedestrian- and bicycle-friendly city, township or district. The membership is initially limited to 7 years. After expiration, a membership extension of another 7 years can be applied for informally. At this time there will be another evaluation. The benefits of an AGFS-Membership are:
- Continuing education:
Conferences, technical committees, subject workshops, work groups, excursions, communication platform.
Pedestrian- and bicycle-friendly city is a "rating" and/or quality attribute.
Access to exclusive support funds, e.g. for local PR, modal split surveys
- Public Relations:
Use of AGFS materials and campaigns for free
- Road Safety:
Commitment to groups in special need for protection (senior citizens, children, people with limited mobility)
Promotion of "Nahmobilität” is environmental protection in practice.
- "Bottom-up approach":
The AGFS network makes successful local concepts and measures well-known in the whole country.
"Cities as space for living and moving"
Since its formation, the AGFS has been a pioneer in the field of modern and innovative traffic policy, infrastructure planning and communication. The focus of the AGFS is, undeniably, Nahmobilität - without however losing sight of other forms of transport. This integrated view is what makes the AGFS unique, and what distinguishes it from other organizations. The AGFS is convinced that moving by musclepower brings new dimensions to our living spaces. It makes towns, cities and villages safer, livelier and more attractive. Getting around using one's own muscle-power creates new perspectives for our living spaces, while making our state more attractive, healthier and livelier. The overall concept of the AGFS is "Cities as space for living and moving". That means in detail:
- Living in a healthy environment.
- Local mobility - local supply - local recreation as realized basic need.
- Generously proportioned, fully accessible residence and mobility areas with a high design quality for local mobility.
- Accentuated child-, family-, and senior citizen-friendly conditions - child mobility can occur mostly without parents.
- Nahmobilität = basic mobility, a majority of "my" individual mobility happens by foot or bike.
- Local mobility is equated with ÖPNV [public transportation] and MIV [motorized individual traffic] in terms of planning, traffic policy, and transportation.
Key objectives of AGFS
A central goal of the AGFS is trying to get planners and politicians to see "Nahmobilität” as basic mobility. Today, pedestrians account for some 25% of road-users at local level, and cyclists for a further 10%. Motorized traffic in the form of cars, buses and trains is still well ahead. But the AGFS is doing all it can to ensure that the combined proportion of pedestrians and cyclists rises to 60%, so that they constitute ‘basic mobility' in the total traffic picture. Further key objectives of AGFS
- Area-covering realization of municipal pedestrian and bike traffic networks with adequate proportions
- Creation of a "local mobility-friendly climate" in cities and communities
- Greatest possible shift of motorized local city traffic to environmentally friendly local mobility
The best argument for getting more people to use their bike or their own feet to get around is a comprehensive pedestrian and cycle-friendly infrastructure and the appropriate design of the spaces where we live and move about. Because only an infrastructure that is both attractive and up to the job of local mobility can get people to change their behaviour. This would also serve the main problem in many towns: too much short-distance motorized traffic. A high proportion of cycle traffic defuses the general traffic situation, thereby strengthening a town's economic viability.
This is why not only in transport policy generally, but also when concrete traffic measures are planned, "Nahmobilität” must be considered on equal terms alongside the car, the bus and the train. Because in no other area of traffic planning can the advantages for individuals, their health and their energy costs, be combined so well with the benefits for the community.
To reach it goals and to promote "Nahmobilität” develops the AGFS central campaigns and numerous public-relations formats available for use by all members: Theme campaigns, specialist brochures, flyers, invitations to political forums and specialist congresses, along with general information materials. Thereby is the motto: Central production, local use!
The AGFS is an important partner fort he state government because it provides an input. A good example of this input providing is the new approach oft the AGFS "Nahmobilität 2.0”, which led the state government to start its own action plan "Nahmobiltät”. Goals of "Nahmobilität 2.0":
- Promotion of traffic infrastructure that really promotes exercise beyond its traffic function.
- "Nahmobilität” = basic mobility
- Equality of ÖPNV [public transportation] - Nahmobilität - MIV [individual motor car traffic]
- Construction of bicycle highways in order to meet the demands of modern bicycle traffic.
The extensive co-operation between the state government and the AGFS in all fields of local mobility has made an important contribution to North Rhine Westphalia now being the most bicycle-friendly state in Germany - with great chances for the future.
A healthy, innovative and integrated traffic policy, geared once more to the human being - that's what the AGFS is working for! So that our towns and cities once more become true spaces for living and getting around. Because quality of movement means quality of life.