The whole of Europe is celebrating a car-free day today, with several roads firmly in the hands of cyclists and pedestrians.
The date is already a European tradition: 22 September is car-free at the end of the EU-wide mobility week. Many cities attract their citizens and, of course, numerous tourists with special public transport offers.
In the German capital, 24 play streets will be installed for the day, which will be closed to motorised private transport from 14:00h to 18:00h. A detailed list of the streets affected can be found on the website of the Berlin traffic information centre (VIZ). Traffic Senator Regine Günther (Greens) refers to the increasing number of road deaths in Berlin which have occurred on bicycles; this calendar year there are already 38 deaths (compared to 41 last year). For the Green politician, today is the perfect day to promote an accelerated traffic turnaround in the German capital.
"We need more speed cameras, more controls to deter speeders," Günther leaves no doubt about her determination. Furthermore, a demonstration is planned in Vienna, for example, which will take place outside the time window in which cars are not allowed to drive. According to the initiators of the rally, this potential traffic jam during rush hour is intended to emphasise the rights of cyclists. All in all, however, things look rather bleak in the car country Germany. In addition to Berlin, other roads or lanes in Düren, Ulm and Marburg are temporarily closed.
When looking abroad, the seriousness becomes clear:
Around 100 local authorities in France, almost 500 in Spain and 535 in Austria took part in the "Mobility Week". Cities are also taking part outside Europe. In the Colombian city of Bogotá, incidentally, every Sunday is car-free.
The car-free day, which is proclaimed throughout Europe, takes place every year on 22 September. Its aim is to encourage people to turn the traffic around faster and to take away the space available to cars, thus creating more space for pedestrians and bicycles.