A green thoroughfare for cyclists and pedestrians within a linear productive park along the former freight path in Köln-Ehrenfeld


The aim of the KlimaKreis Köln-sponsored project is the implementation of an initial, exemplary section of the Low Line Linear Park from Grüner Weg to Oskar-Jäger-Straße, along the to-be-reconditioned railway crossing Weinsbergstraße.


The Ehrenfeld district of Cologne has, since the mid-19th century, been predominantly characterized by the metal-working and chemical industry and their large-scale industrial sites. While the businesses disappeared during the structural change taking place between 1970 and 1990, the blocking effects of these far-reaching industrial wastelands remain palpable up to the present day.

The Low Line Linear Park would not only contribute to overcoming these blocking effects, but would also counteract the shortage of green and (accessible) open spaces in the district. Moreover, through the decommissioned freight path, access could be granted to the Stadtwald as well as the Äußerer Grüngürtel by way of a quiet and attractive foot and cycle path. In this respect, the proposals brought forth by the community interest group Braunsfelder Bürger (IGBB) serve as reference points.

As early as July 2004, the City Council of Cologne passed the decision to develop a green system of foot and cycle paths along the former railway path of the Häfen und Güterverkehr Köln AG (HGK). The project of the Low Line Linear Park, while far surpassing the initial scope in its innovative approach, builds on this decision and could serve as an example for comparable wastelands in other Cologne districts due to its transferability. Lastly, an important contribution could be made to the Sustainable Energy Action Plan for the City of Cologne (as part of the Covenant of Mayors). Among other things, the City of Cologne has set itself the objective of „reducing CO2 emissions by at least 20% by 2020“.

Potential Impact

With ideal planting, the Low Line Linear Park will be able to bind the greenhouse gas CO2.

Cities have a large potential of binding CO2 in the long term. However, not only Cologne is still severely underdeveloped in this respect.

In general, the binding potential of CO2 primarily depends on the type of planted vegetation and not on the size of the area.

The Low Line Linear Park is supposed to also contribute to reducing inner-city CO2 emissions. On the one hand, it will promote a switch to the zero-emission-vehicle bicycle while on the other hand helping to avoid long transport routes with the local cultivation of fruits and vegetables.

In order to reach the climate change objectives, at least 40 million tons of CO2 are to be saved in traffic emissions by 2020. The increase of cyclist and pedestrian traffic thus also plays a critical role in the Sustainable Energy Action Plan for the City of Cologne: „It is a change in the choice of modes of transport that is at stake, especially in individuals.“

According to the Federal Environmental Agency (UBA), approximately half of all trips made by car are over distances shorter than five kilometers, a quarter of them even shorter than three kilometers. In the year 2005, more than 14 million tons of CO2 were produced by these short trips.

„In the long term, the achievement of the climate protection objectives is impossible without a change in behaviour, without a change in our mobility culture.“ (German Institute of Urban Affairs [Difu])

The Low Line Linear Park will not only reduce CO2 emissions through an improved infrastructure for pedestrians and cyclists: the avoidance of CO2 emissions through locally produced foodstuffs is equally important. Therefore, the foundations for a „continuous productive urban landscape“ (Prof. Katrin Bohn, TU Berlin) are to be created.

The agro-urban potential is just as underdeveloped as the urban potential for binding CO2 by means of urban green.

Even a highly condensed metropolis of 8 million such as London would be able to cover 30% of its fruit and vegetable requirements. Unlike a conventional park with merely decorative planting, the Low Line Linear Park will encourage the citizens of Ehrenfeld to become gardeners themselves. Successful and internationally acclaimed examples in London or Middlesbrough, which were developed on behalf of municipalities or municipal housing associations, serve to prove the feasibility of such participatory urban agriculture. The already existing community garden Obsthain Grüner Weg is modeled after these examples and provides an ideal starting point for the development of the Low Line Linear Park.






Low Line Linear Park is supported by KlimaKreis Köln.

Design Quartier Ehrenfeld
is supported by