In 2006, Eckart Würzner was elected mayor of Heidelberg and re-elected again for an additional eight years in 2014. Before, he worked as an environmental consultant and head of the technical, environmental protection division for the City of Heidelberg.
In an interview with Andy Bush, Eckart describes his latest efforts to create a car-free community.
"Nearly 70% of all employees in my city are working for the university, for science institutes, for tech companies. So, it's a very brainy city, knowledge progress, you might say. It's always about global positions, global experts when we're talking at the theater, in the cinema, wherever we're meeting.
This means that citizens are pushing politically responsible people to go further, use their brains, implement technology that is available, and create a structure that might have a future perspective also for other cities on a global scale. It's all about creating a city of welfare and the city where you really see that if you're living in such a situation, you're not overstressing nature. So, it must be livable, fair, social, and open-minded.” – Eckart Würzner
Currently, Würzner is exploring ways to stop the heavy climate change, and he's realized that the car-based city structure is one of the main big problems globally.
"Take Los Angeles, for example, which has about the same number of inhabitants as Barcelona, but LA has more than ten times the space. So, this urban sprawl creates brutal emissions and is also responsible for a not-so-livable city, in our opinion. Therefore, we always try to be engaged in what we call the European city model, where you have the church, the foot pedestrian zone in the center, and not this huge urban sprawl." – Eckart Würzner
Ultimately, Würzner believes that by creating such a structure, having the downtown area car-free or with very low numbers of cars — is exactly what’s needed to combat climate change and help our environment.
"You have a very attractive downtown area, green, the kids can play on the streets. And in the suburbs, you have to use the mass transport system to get them downtown." – Eckart Würzner
This would inevitably reduce auto dependence and car dependence equally to promote livability and quality of life as well as reduce carbon emissions and promote climate protection.