The limited geographic application of the Hamburg ban, however, has attracted criticism that the city is just spreading pollution to other areas to improve readings along the two main artery roads.
“It won’t amount to much,” complained Rashid Shater, the owner of Cyclefactory, a high-end bicycle shop on Max-Brauer-Allee.
Jan Dube, a spokesman for Hamburg’s Department for the Environment and Energy, said the diversions were not expected to raise emissions elsewhere in the city above European Union limits. He added that the city was also working on expanding its bus and bicycle lane network as part of broader efforts to improve air quality.
The VDA, which represents the auto industry in Germany, has been pushing for alternative remedies like park-and-ride services. The group said in a statement that driving bans were not the most effective way to combat poor air quality.
“The natural renewal of modern and clean diesel vehicles on its own will lead to a significant increase in air quality in the coming years,” it said.
About a third of passenger vehicles in the country run on diesel, and carmakers have spent decades promoting the technology. But thanks to a series of scandals, sales of diesel vehicles have been falling — the proportion of Germany’s cars that run on the fuel dropped this year compared with 2017, the first such annual decline in decades, according to the German transport authority.
It is part of a wider shift away from diesel, and the internal combustion engine, across Europe. Along with moves by cities to ban or restrict diesel vehicles, countries like Britain, France and Norway plan to do away with gas or diesel engines entirely.