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Swiss ignore call to leave their cars at home

A Europe-wide appeal to motorists to try to avoid using their cars on Friday, has met with a limited response in Switzerland. Although roads were closed in several Swiss towns and cities, the impact on traffic was negligible.

This content was published on September 22, 2000 - 17:39

Only Geneva, where the day of action caused mild controversy, recorded a sizeable drop of 15 per cent in traffic.

Geneva had closed a large number of roads and squares to cars and motorcycles, but all public transport was free. The city also provided its citizens with bicycles, scooters and electric cars, and information on mobility schemes whereby people could combine car hire and rail travel.

But practically no change was noted in other cities, including the main financial centre, Zurich, Switzerland's second largest city, Basel, and the capital, Berne.

The head of the public works office in Lausanne attributed the failure of the day of action to inadequate advertising.

But it appears Switzerland did no worse than other European countries. The day had practically no impact in Germany, while Vienna even experienced an increase in traffic and widespread chaos.

Madrid was the only big city that saw a drop in the number of cars on the roads. Traffic in the Spanish capital was about 13 per cent below its normal level.

It was only the third time the event - the brainchild of the French environment minister, Dominique Voynet - has been staged. Nearly 800 towns and cities throughout Europe took part.

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