10 September 2013

New Obama Effect After Stockholm Visit

Last week the US president visited Sweden, and I wrote an article about Barack Obama's interest for our energy inventions. I also mentioned that the Swedish capital was cleaner than in many years, but I could not imagine the extensive effects this would give in Sweden after Mr. Obama had left the country.

30 % less pollution
During Barach Obama's visit to Stockholm parts of the capital was blocked off for cars and buses. That gave eye-opening results, because the  streets of Stockholm's inner city had an average of 30 % less emissions of nitric oxides than usual, according to the City Commissioner for Environment and Traffic.

Enthusiasm in social media
Stockholm inhabitants were happy to be able to walk around freely in the inner city, and many gave voice to their enthusiasm in social media and suggested more days without traffic or with just commercial traffic. "Can we make Obama stay, to keep our city clean?" was one comment.
Stockholm Royal Castle
4 of 7 positive
The leading Swedish newspaper Dagens Nyheter asked representatives for the seven political parties about their opinions on a day without traffic in Stockholm. Four of them were positive, even if several pointed out that more most be done to solve our environment problems.

The Green Party representative said that the Obama visit showed what a fantastic city Stockholm can be. They don't only want a day without traffic but also a walking area right through the inner city once a week. And the Left Party even wants the city centre to be permanently closed of from all traffic but the commercial.
Mobility Week banner
European Mobility Week
Many other cities all over the world already have a traffic free day on 22 September, when they take part in the European Mobility Week campaign organized by the European Commission. It culminates with a day when certain areas in the participating cities are set aside solely for pedestrians, cyclists and public transport.

The idea has spread far beyond Europe, and in 2012 no less than 2158 cities from 39 countries registered for the campaign. I have experienced the day in Malaga, and it was fantastic to get rid of the heavy traffic – if so only for a day!

This year I will be in Stockholm on the 22 September. I wonder if I will be able to stroll along the beautiful watersides, listening to seagulls instead of car engines and breathing clean air?

By Peter Kalmstrom
CEO and Systems Designer Business Solutions

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