I am currently the Deputy Chair of Woden Valley Comunity Council. In 2014, when I was on personally funded holidays in Europe I decided to write a travel diary concentrating on the issues, such as urban planning, transport, and renewable energy, that are often discussed at the Council’s public meetings held at 7.30 pm on the first Wednesday of each month at the Woden Hellenic Club. My diary was posted on the WVCC website.
This year, my wife Christine and I are travelling in Europe, Switzerland and Italy. I hope you enjoy the 2015 travel diary.[teaserbreak][teaserbreak]
We arrived in Frankfurt, Germany early on the first of October. Compared to 2014, when it took about two hours to clear customs and find our luggage at Rome’s Fiumicino airport, Frankfurt was breeze. Within 25 minutes of touchdown we were loading our buses onto a free shuttle bus to take us to the nearby train station. A fast train took us to Frankfurt’s central station, a few hundred metres from our hotel. We checked in whilst breakfast was still being served.
Although Frankfurt only has a population of 700,000, it is an important transport node for Germany and Europe. Its airport and central station are amongst Europe’s busiest. An extensive network of light rail and public buses (some articulated) adjoin the central station and service central and outer Frankfurt.
The River Main runs through the centre of Frankfurt and is traversed by both leisure and commercial traffic. Huge barges, some carrying coal for the local power station, glide along it constantly.
Although Frankfurt looks like an historic city, most of it is fake, the city was almost completed destroyed in WW2 by allied bombing and subsequent fire. The diligent Germans have rebuilt most of the city’s significant historical buildings. In the 1950’s, the need to house Frankfurt’s population, many in tents, led to a construction boom of public housing flats with standardised design features. Although now regarded as ugly, some of these flats are being preserved to leave a complete record of Frankfurt’s architectural history. Sounds a bit like the current Northbourne flat controversy in Canberra.
Frankfurt is a very bike friendly city. It is compact and flat. There are many bike paths through the green areas and the narrow streets discourage fast driving from car drivers. Most of the trains carry a large bicycle symbol indicating that bikes are allowed on board. Outside the main station we saw a row of “go bike” bicycles that allow short term bike hire.
Solar energy and wind energy have really taken off in outer Frankfurt. Wind farms surround the city and both domestic and commercial solar energy is prominent. We passed a solar energy farm on the way in from the airport.
Whilst Frankfurt has some of Germany’s tallest buildings in its financial centre, most of its housing stock is 6 storeys or less. This allows the sun to warm the squares and courtyards.
In a compact city like Frankfurt, light rail, buses, cycling and pedestrian traffic help the city function efficiently and keep the smog levels low.