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Car density on the rise

The number of vehicles in Germany continues to increase. There is no trend away from the car proclaimed by politicians. Even in large cities, more and more people are relying on their own cars in front of their doors. The traffic turnaround with alternative mobility concepts has been missed.

By 2030, the area within Berlin's S-Bahn ring is to be closed to internal combustion vehicles. At least that is what transport senator Regine Günther (Greens) wants. Although the new "Urban Development Plan for Mobility and Transport" does not specify when the zero-emission zone will actually be in place, Günther would like to implement the zero-emission zone as soon as possible.

But the latest figures from the Federal Motor Transport Authority and the Federal Statistical Office on vehicles in Germany show that the car is becoming increasingly popular. Also in cities like Berlin. In the cities, car density rose slightly last year from 450 to 451 per 1,000 inhabitants. The national average rose from 575 to 580 per 1,000 inhabitants.

During the pandemic, many citizens may have preferred to take the car rather than public transport to avoid crowds. However, a decrease in commuters and mobility as a whole should have affected the number of vehicles overall.

So politicians in Germany seem to have completely missed the traffic turnaround and the switch to green mobility so far. In recent years, there have been more and more vehicles in the cities and in the countryside and hardly any alternatives that create an incentive to leave the car behind. Cycle paths, for example in Berlin, are very poorly developed. Public transport, while still acceptable in the city, is rather poor for the outskirts. Getting by in the countryside without a car is unthinkable. Also the rules of the environmental zones in the cities, which unlike in many other European countries have not changed in recent years, allow many old vehicles. In some cases, they are even taking a step backwards and abolishing diesel driving bans again. Only recently, 4 roads in Berlin were reopened for old diesel vehicles.

This also suggests to citizens that there is no problem with the air or traffic density in the city. Vehicles are apparently welcome there, according to politicians. At the same time, politics is very close to the car lobby and strongly supports it, most recently also in the pandemic. Of course, the car industry is a key industry in Germany. But if it is so important, politicians should honestly admit that the car manufacturers have priority in the car country Germany, and that pedestrians and cyclists as well as cleaner and greener cities have to take a back seat.

Even as pioneers, politicians are just not involved in the transport turnaround. In Berlin, a new load of diesel buses was bought only recently and most politicians let themselves be driven around in diesel limousines. Talk of a zero-emission zone is not worth much. Germany has missed the traffic turnaround.