Freiburg prides itself on being a “Green City,” and the common methods of transportation look very different than in US cities. The most popular methods of transportation are biking, riding the Straßenbahn (tram/street train), or walking. Other transportation methods in the Freiburg area include bus, train, and car.
At the beginning of the semester when I first stepped off the train in Freiburg, I was shocked at the amount of bicycles parked outside the train station. I have never seen so many bikes in my life as I have in Freiburg. People of all ages use bikes as their main method of transportation in any weather. There are also many options for renting bikes in Freiburg. Some streets in Freiburg are marked as “Fahrradstraße” (bike street) where the street is predominately for bikers, and any cars that want to travel on that street need to go the speed of the bikers and not pass anyone.
Straßenbahn (tram) and Bus
Students in Freiburg have the option of buying a semester ticket for Freiburg public transportation. It costs €90, and you can use it to ride the trams, busses, and even some regional trains into the area around Freiburg. Another option for students is a reduced monthly regional ticket. This ticket covers the same options as the semester ticket plus the ability to travel on regional trains into surrounding regions in the afternoon or on weekends. Citizens who are not students can purchase the monthly regional ticket for a slightly higher price and more limited regional travel, and anyone who does not have one of these tickets can purchase single trip or day tickets for the public transportation in Freiburg.
Five Straßenbahn lines run throughout the main part of Freiburg. During weekdays, the trams run about every seven minutes and are a very efficient way to travel in the city. Bus lines go farther out into the city where the trams don’t reach. All of the trams and busses in Freiburg run on sustainable electric energy.
On city public transportation in Germany, your ticket is not immediately checked when you board. Instead, it is checked randomly. I have only had my ticket checked once since I’ve been here, but riding without a ticket or “schwarz fahren” can receive a heavy fine. The ticket controllers are usually dressed in street clothes, so it is not obvious when you will get your ticket checked.
Another popular method of transportation in Freiburg is by foot, of course. It is very common for Germans to walk places, especially in busy city areas. Certain areas of the downtown are marked as “Fußgängerzone,” which means that no cars are allowed on that street, and even bikes need to be walked.
Regional and Long-Distance Trains
Lots of regional and long distance trains travel out from the main station in Freiburg. The Baden-Württemberg regional trains travel to other cities in the state. The IC or ICE trains travel longer distances across Germany. The main connecting cities when heading out from Freiburg are Basel and Karlsruhe. Like the trams and busses, the trains all run on sustainable energy.
There are definitely also cars in Freiburg but not nearly as many as in an American city. There is hardly any heavy traffic on the roads and not nearly as much car noise as in other cities. Carsharing is very popular in Germany, especially for couples or families living in the city. Taxis are also fairly common in the city.