For a long time there was silence around the project, which will turn one of Berlin's most famous streets into a traffic-calmed shopping zone.
Originally planned for the beginning of the summer, Berlin is now finally getting serious about its long-cherished project to convert Friedrichstrasse in the heart of the city into a pedestrian zone. However, in keeping with the motto "What lasts for a long time", the project is finally taking off: from 29 August, motor vehicles will be prohibited from passing between the crossroads Französische Strasse and Leipzigerstrasse. Initially, the project will run until the end of January 2021, as Berlin's traffic senator Regine Günther (Greens) told several media representatives. Traffic-calmed zones in city centres are currently enjoying great popularity despite occasional critical voices. Thanks to Corona, some communities have now seized the opportunity and are now converting former streets into green spaces, which will increase the urban quality of life and improve the air quality in the surrounding area. The plan is to transform Friedrichstrasse into a promenade, which will be increasingly provided with greenery, cycle paths and seating. Additional events, workshops and markets will complete the project.
Through this pilot project, the Mitte district and the Senate want to test how public space can be newly and modernly divided and how the so-called quality of stay among urban planners can be increased and improved.
Critical voices fear a slump in sales of shops on this section. However, empirical studies from other international metropolises show that this concern is probably more than unfounded. Madrid is always mentioned in this context as a shining example that economic success of local shops and these "pop-up pedestrian zones" do not have to be mutually exclusive. In the Spanish capital, too, several businessmen ran up a storm against the plans for a newly created traffic-calmed zone in the city centre. However, time proved them wrong; the project in Madrid was and is a complete success.
If the "new" Friedrichstrasse in turn turns out to be a model of success, we will see more of these streets converted into pedestrian zones in many places in the future.
We say: Yes, please and let's go!