Traffic turnaround: Senator wants to re-calm Friedrichstrasse in Berlin
Friedrichstrasse in Berlin will be reopened to cars, but it doesn’t have to stay that way even under the new Senator for Transport, Manja Schreiner (CDU).
“My decision to reopen Friedrichstrasse for cars was always a legal one,” says Schreiner. “We need a master plan process to take residents and traders with us.” According to the senator, she intends to initiate this traffic and urban development process in the fall.
The aim is an open process and a comprehensive traffic concept for the entire area. “Then it’s quite possible that Friedrichstrasse can be redesigned to accommodate pedestrians and cyclists,” emphasized Schreiner.
In the spirit of the Berlin Mobility Act
The shopping mile in Berlin-Mitte was one of the central points of contention in the recent election campaign: under the old state government, a section of around 500 meters was closed to car traffic in order to offer pedestrians and cyclists more space and safety – right in the sense of the Berlin Mobility Act, which gives priority to the environmental network, i.e. the combination of local public transport and non-motorized modes of transport such as bicycles, over car traffic.
Under the new CDU-led state government, non-drivers have to restrict themselves on the section between Französischer Straße and Leipziger Straße for the time being. From this Saturday, Friedrichstrasse will again be open to car traffic.
Priority for the environmental group should remain…
Despite planned changes to the Mobility Act, Schreiner is sticking to the priority for the environmental group enshrined in it: “We’re not going to change that, we’ve written that down very clearly in the coalition agreement,” she said. “We are getting closer to the goal by taking Berliners with us.”
The transport senate had recently had construction projects for new cycle paths in the districts stopped for the time being – according to its own statements, in order to check and prioritize them. In addition, the new government wants to change the Mobility Act in order to strengthen commercial traffic in it, among other things. However, the draft also provides for the deletion of text passages postulating a significant reduction in car traffic in Berlin. The Greens then accused the government of wanting to “gut” the law.
… or are those just “nice words”?
The German Environmental Aid also criticizes the new Senate’s transport policy: “Senator Schreiner is trying to calm things down – not with a different policy, but with appeasement and kind words,” said Robin Kulpa, an expert on the mobility transition at the German Environmental Aid, at the request of the dpa. “But the people of Berlin can’t buy anything from that.”
In an open letter to the senator, the bicycle industry association Zukunft Fahrrad also expressed concern about the “currently suspended implementation of the planned cycling projects and the related communication of the new senate”. The association referred to the economic importance of bicycle companies for Berlin. “Especially in Berlin, as a metropolis with international appeal, the relevance of this branch of industry must be taken into account in terms of transport and economic policy,” the letter says.