EBN – Berlin, Europe’s leading city in sustainable transportation, is undergoing a transformation this year, shifting toward more car-friendly policies.
This change has sparked a vigorous debate among residents.
While European cities have been reducing car traffic in their city centres in favour of cycle paths, Berlin prioritises motorists.
In the heart of Berlin, at Potsdamer Platz, cyclists are expressing their disappointment with the city’s current infrastructure.
“There have been a lot of plans, but not much actual building,” said Elena Witte, a cyclist. “I think the discussion is happening, but much more needs to be done.”
Conversely, motorists voice their concerns about the cycling infrastructure occupying public spaces previously designated for cars.
A Berlin resident pointed out that every city must have bike paths. However, the resident stressed that it must not be at the expense of car space.
The debate between cyclists and motorists was a prominent issue during the Berlin state parliament elections earlier this year.
Berlin grants its local parliament significant autonomy to enact laws that affect the city.
Berlin Mobility Policies
Mobility was decisive in the elections, leading to the winning of the Christian Democrats for the first time in over 20 years.
However, critics said that the new local government has stopped the progress of car-free zones and bike-friendly spaces.
Ragnhild Sörensen, spokesperson for the urban mobility think tank Changing Cities expressed scepticism. “I have no hopes for this legislative period,” Sörensen said.
Previously designated car-free zones, like a section of Friedrichstrasse street, have witnessed the return of cars.
Several bike path projects have been paused or delayed pending further review.
In response, the Christian Democratic party in Berlin asserted that they are rectifying the previous government’s perceived bias towards bicycles.
“We think that the safety of all types of transport is important. For all,” said Johannes Kraft, mobility spokesperson for the Christian Democrats in Berlin.