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Barrier-free transport is a key element of sustainable, climate-friendly and inclusive cities. This report gives an overview of the main policies, standards and best practices regarding barrier-free transport in Germany and the EU. It’s part of the work on Sustainable Urban Mobility Planning (SUMP) and the bilateral exchanges between Germany and China on sustainable transport, which is implemented by the sustainable mobility team of GIZ in China. The work on accessible mobility in China and Germany not only aims to raise awareness for distinct standardisation and norms, diversified mobility needs and common challenges in the provision of barrier-free modes of transport, but also to connect stakeholders from both countries to exchange on the different approaches and experiences e. g. in the design of infrastructure and service.

Globally, around one billion people experience some form of disability and one fifth of the global total have substantially limited ability to participate independently in society. Shifting the focus to Germany, there were approximately 7.9 million people as of late 2019 with severe disabilities, requiring extensive ongoing support in more than one major life activity. According to the German Federal Statistical Office, almost 60% of those people were aged 65 and above, while less than 10% were between the age of 25 and 44 or even younger than 25 years. Due to increased life expectancy and a prolonged participation in public life, the total resources to meet the population’s needs are growing, for instance in the realm of technology, public infrastructure, and public service provision. Hereby various challenges arise. These challenges begin with the mere integration of people into public life by allowing them a high degree of self-determination. Enabling people’s individual mobility thus represents a critical driver for improving their quality of life.

Commuting in daily life comes with a multitude of physical, digital or social barriers, irrespective of age or specific disabilities. From high curbs over high ticket prices to guidance systems in public spaces, these existing barriers complicate and impede people’s mobility and limit their choices for their means of transport. Barrier-free mobility is an important key for inclusive future urban development and sustainable societies. Urban transport systems need to become more inclusive and accessible. Mobility opportunities, meaning being able to freely choose one’s means of transport, are a key element of the personal, social, and professional development of every individual, particularly for people with disabilities or mobility constraints. Many disabled persons without their own car rely on public transport. Trains, subways, buses and coaches, as well as tramcars are essential for their participation in public life.

The goal of achieving a barrier-free transport system is also formulated in the Agenda 2030. Under Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) 11 “Sustainable Cities and Communities” a core target is to “provide access to safe, affordable, accessible and sustainable transport systems for all, improving road safety, notably by expanding public transport, with special attention to the needs of those in vulnerable situations, women, children, persons with disabilities and older persons.” The Agenda 2030 also acts as a guiding framework for the projects implemented by the Deutsche Gesellschaft für internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ) GmbH.