Berlin (dpa) – Fast routes for cyclists, green promenades without noise and exhaust fumes, residential streets with children playing: there are many visions of Berlin, at least largely car-free.
But the road to the supposed eco-paradise is long and more difficult than expected. Five years after the SPD coalition, the Greens and the Left, which is still in power today, called for an ecological reconstruction of cities and began to divide public space “more fairly,” as the saying goes, disappointment was spreading in the metropolis. that has been designed with cars in mind for decades.
More car registrations instead of less
Germany’s first mobility law gives priority to climate-friendly walking, cycling and public transport in the capital. However, meeting the lofty goals with new bike lanes, safer crossings, more bus lanes and less space for cars is progressing slowly and risks getting stuck in the plain’s efforts.
And as usual, the caravan carries through many streets at a walking pace. Registered passenger car numbers have recently risen to 1.243 million – instead of falling. In Kiezen, as the districts of the capital are called, there is a struggle for every parking space that should give way to bicycle paths or bus lanes. And trying to calm the traffic in some streets sometimes makes your head tremble.
One example is the famous Friedrichstrasse, which was closed to cars two years ago on the stretch around the luxury Galeries Lafayette department store near Gendarmenmarkt. This should provide better air, less noise, a different use of public space and a more attractive shopping experience. Critics screamed.
Consistent decisions and openness
Meanwhile, Mobility and Environment Senator Bettina Jarasch (Greens) admitted that the concept doesn’t work that way. Many felt that the “promenade” with seating, display cases, potted plants and a bicycle path painted yellow was not very uplifting. The revival of the shopping street, which at times overtook Ku’damm, but later had more and more problems, did not take place.
It is now adjusted again. Cyclists will also disappear behind the cars and use the parallel road. Jarasch promises “attractive, modern and green urban space”. And he does not let failures dissuade him from the idea of changing the movement. “The mobility transition will only succeed if we are open to trying out different things. And then we will make consistent decisions. “
Of Berlin’s twelve boroughs, Friedrichshain-Kreuzberg, dominated by the Greens, is considered to be a pioneer of movement change. “More green oases, less concrete and less asphalt” is the motto of County Mayor Clara Herrmann (Greens). And a lot is being tried in your neighborhood.
The neighborhood and the quayside without cars
In Graefekiez, where 20 thousand. persons, all private parking spaces in public spaces are to be removed under the model project and play streets are to be designated. Residents should park their cars in a garage. The CDU speaks of dictatorial conditions and opposes the project. But other projects are already in the planning stage. For example, Herrmann wants to develop the “green pedestrian and bicycle promenade” from Hallesches Ufer, where cars previously ran on four lanes parallel to the underground metro. In the future, more streets and squares are to become “car-free”.
The ADAC complains that the holistic concept cannot be equated with all diversion approaches. Political leaders wanted to reduce the number of private cars through bans, price increases, and a reduction in street and parking spaces. “It clearly ignores the needs of the people.” Instead of bans, Berlin has to rely on offers such as strengthening public transport. The declared goal of the Senate is to improve the range of buses and trains.
This also applies to the expansion of cycle paths that gained momentum during the crown pandemic: pop-up cycle paths were created almost overnight, transforming car lanes into cycle paths, without the usual lengthy planning processes. In the meantime, many temporary arrangements have become permanent – so they remain permanent. Nevertheless, the expansion of the cycle path network is generally slow. It should cover 3,000 kilometers, and a good 39 kilometers were completed in 2021.
Demolition or expansion of the A100?
“Instead of patchwork and paths that don’t end anywhere, Berlin urgently needs a continuous network of good cycle paths,” warns Lisa Feitsch of the ADFC cycling club. And it has to end up in the paper street after all. Unfortunately, at the state and provincial levels, there is a lack of the resources, the political will, or the courage to try new things.
A novelty would also be the dismantling of the city highway. Citizens’ initiatives are involved in this in various sections. The section in the districts of Wilmersdorf and Dahlem was specifically targeted at the alliance of the red-green-red governments of Berlin in the coalition agreement concluded in 2021. the motorway bridge that has been disfiguring Breitenbachplatz with its historic buildings since the 1970s.
The plan to extend the A100 to the east of the city by the federal Ministry of Transport under the leadership of the FDP seems downright absurd for the coalition to change transport in Berlin. Supporters hope for better connections with the eastern parts of the city. In turn, the leader of the Berlin Green Party, Werner Graf, accused the federal minister of transport Volker Wissing (FDP) of “fetishism on the motorways” and announced “fierce resistance”. “We will prevent this nonsense.”
© dpa-infocom, dpa: 220801-99-231806 / 3