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Bavaria: Privileges instead of driving bans

Eco-lanes and free parking in city centres: Bavaria's cities are to become more attractive for e-cars. There are to be no car-free zones, strict environmental zones or a speed limit on Bavaria's motorways, although this could have a lot of effect.

Bavarian Prime Minister Markus Söder (CSU) wants to grant more privileges to drivers of e-cars in order to increase the attractiveness of electric cars and make mobility in Bavaria greener.  Electric cars should be allowed to use bus lanes or be given eco-lanes reserved especially for them. This would allow them to avoid traffic jams and get through the city much faster. In Düsseldorf, the eco-lanes had only recently failed. It was decided to abolish them because, according to the new mayor, the lanes led to significantly more congestion on the other lanes and therefore also to more air pollution.

Another idea of Söder's is to make parking for e-cars in cities free of charge. The head of Munich's mobility department Georg Dunkel (party-less) states that parking, at least for vehicles with combustion engines in Munich, could become significantly more expensive in the near future. So this monetary incentive could indeed increase the attractiveness of e-cars in Munich.

Söder also wants to strengthen cycle paths and public transport. A new cycling decision sees many new cycle paths in the planning. Actually, the decision should be implemented by 2025. Dunkel, however, is slowing down these expectations considerably. Although there will be a decision for the first 10 projects this year, it will probably take another two years before the construction of the cycle paths can begin. To want to transform a city's traffic concept within 5 years is rather utopian. In the meantime, the initiators of the cycling referendum expect the concept to be implemented only by 2050.

While the advantages for e-cars, the expansion of cycle paths and public transport sound nice, these concepts are neither innovative nor earth-shattering. Söder does not want to impose bans. He does not want stricter environmental zones or car-free zones. The speed limit proposed by the Greens is also far from his mind, although a speed limit of 130 km/h could save 2.2 million tonnes of climate gases annually (Germany-wide) at a stroke. This is "only" 4.9 percent of the emissions caused by traffic on motorways in 2018. In comparison, however, one would have to replace about half a million combustion cars with e-cars or increase walking and cycling by 17% to be able to save one million tonnes of CO2.

So Söder is relying on tried and tested incentives that promise change but are probably slow to produce tangible results in reality. Bans and innovative measures like the speed limit, significantly cheaper (or free) local transport and truly traffic-free zones are unlikely to happen with him.

Incidentally, he sees the Greens' speed limit as an "ideological claptrap". Bavaria is unlikely to become a pioneer for a climate-friendly transport sector.