Berlin set an example with the pop-up cycle paths – now the urban development plan for transport is meeting with criticism
Photo: sabine brose / frank sorge / imago images
Berlin wants to reduce car traffic by the end of the decade, while at the same time making the capital more cyclist- and pedestrian-friendly. This is provided for in the urban development plan for mobility and transport by transport senator regine gunther, which was passed by the senate. However, the politician failed with her plan to close the city in two concrete steps for cars with diesel and gasoline engines.
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The government paper envisages an increase in the share of buses, trains, pedestrians and cyclists in the distances traveled from 74 percent today to at least 82 percent in 2030 – at the expense of car traffic. In detail, 23 percent is to be allocated to bicycle traffic, 29 percent to local public transport and 30 percent to pedestrian traffic.
Better rail links to the surrounding region
In order to achieve these goals, the road space will be reallocated: areas that were previously reserved for parked cars will in future be used for other traffic participants, gunther announced. And more parking spaces are to be charged.
urban planners are also called upon: "we want a low-car design for the new urban districts," says the green politician. In addition, the streetcar network should continue to grow and the surrounding area should be better connected by rail.
Left for internal combustion engine
The most controversial innovation, however, is the so-called zero emission zone, in which no vehicles with combustion engines are allowed. Such a zone is supposed to serve climate protection and air pollution control.
However, the plan caused a dispute between the coalition partners. The zone is now only targeted for the medium term. Gunther had campaigned to have only zero-emission cars running within the S-Bahn ring by 2030 and throughout the city by 2035. However, the new urban development plan no longer mentions any annual figures. According to Berlin media, the decision failed because of a veto by the left-wing parliamentary group.
The backdown outraged some transportation experts. "the berlin senate has declared climate policy insolvency with its new urban development plan for transport," criticizes transport researcher andreas knie of the berlin science center. "the traffic turnaround in berlin is canceled."
plan does nothing to change the priority of the car
according to the scientist, the senate is not doing enough to counteract the dominance of the automobile. according to knie, this mode of transport is involved in 25 percent of daily journeys in berlin and accounts for 40 percent of passenger kilometers. "nevertheless, it has 65 percent of the traffic area at its disposal."
Berlin charges too little for parking, knie complains, and concludes: "at the moment, the plan is just a series of wonderful declarations of intent."and we don’t even have a large car industry in the city that we have to take into account, unlike stuttgart or munich.
Berlin not on par with barcelona or paris
A lot is happening especially at the district level. for example, the berlin district of friedrichshain-kreuzberg made headlines around the world during the corona crisis by setting up pop-up bike paths at short notice and found numerous imitators. Berlin seemed to be on a par with cities like Barcelona or paris, which are pushing for bicycle- and pedestrian-friendly redevelopment of their city centers.
But criticism also came from the local ADAC, which complained of an "ideologically driven ad hoc mentality". Only when alternatives have been strengthened can we think about how to sensibly reduce car traffic, not the other way around, said traffic director volker krane. "the mobility of the future is unthinkable in berlin without cars for the time being," says krane.
so the berlin state coalition has pulled off an unusual feat: it has angered car clubs and car critics alike.