< Show all posts

Berlin mobility revolution failed

No city toll, no reduction of traffic and certainly no zero-emission zone: the left-wing coalition in Berlin could not reach an agreement on the adaptation of the mobility law. Thus, neither traffic nor air quality will probably change in the capital.

Actually, a new section in Berlin's mobility law was supposed to bring relief on the capital's roads. There should be fewer cars on the road, fewer parking spaces available and less traffic overall. But especially the reference to "price mechanisms" in the Greens' bill led to disagreement between the parties. The SPD and also the Left suspected a city toll behind this measure, which they strictly reject. The Left sees the city toll as socially unjust because poorer people would then no longer be able to afford to drive into the city centre. They did not see that the revenues from the congestion charge could also be used to expand public transport, as in other countries, and that socially weaker people, most of whom do not have a car anyway, would benefit from it. According to the Greens, the dispute is unfounded, since a city toll would need a separate law anyway. But other issues, such as the reduction of parking spaces by 50 % by 2030, were also rejected by the SPD and the Left.

So the car lobby or the fear of some voters still seems to be too strong. But reducing traffic, for example through a congestion charge or other mechanisms, would have had a positive effect for car drivers in the long run. In cities like Stockholm, the rejection of the congestion charge was initially strong, but after only a few years, acceptance has increased massively as citizens felt the benefits of traffic calming.

So it is an indictment if the red-red-green government, which according to its election programme and party orientation actually cares about social justice, climate protection and the well-being of the socially weaker, cannot stand up for these very issues and citizens and at least take some first steps towards greener mobility. Compared to the rest of Europe, very little is being done in Germany to initiate the mobility turnaround. Although there are more and more e-cars on the roads, a general paradigm shift to a green mobility of tomorrow, in which cars are perhaps generally less important, does not seem to be in the interest of politics. And it is also clear that if no agreement could be reached on the first steps, the zero-emission zone, which was actually planned for Berlin from 2030, will become a utopia!

Meanwhile, the capital is sinking more and more into traffic chaos. The air quality on some busy streets is very bad, cycling in Berlin is dangerous because the cycle paths are either poorly constructed or simply non-existent in many places, and pedestrians have less and less space. The city belongs to the cars. 

So an agreement would not only have been desirable, but more than overdue.