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Hamburg: Battle over driving bans continues

The CDU parliamentary group wants an immediate end to diesel driving bans. The environmental authority is reviewing the measure first, but is also evaluating some road sections for new driving bans. At the same time, more and more streets are being declared car-free zones.

The dispute over Hamburg's two diesel driving ban zones in Stresemannstraße and Max-Brauer-Allee continues to heat up. The CDU demands an immediate abolition of the driving bans, as the annual mean values measured there are below the limit value of 40 micrograms per cubic metre (µg/m³) in each case. For example, an average of 35 µg/m³ was measured in Stresemannstraße and 37 µg/m³ in Max-Brauer-Allee. According to the CDU, there is therefore no longer any reason to adhere to the driving bans. However, since the measured values from 2020 are not reliable due to the decrease in traffic caused by the Corona pandemic, the environmental authority of the red-green government wants to evaluate the driving bans first in January and then decide.

Although traffic had decreased in Max-Brauer-Allee, it had increased in Stresemannstraße despite the driving bans in 2020. It is therefore questionable whether nitrogen oxide levels will remain below the EU limit without the bans.

The environmental authority around environmental senator Jens Kerstan (Greens) is currently also examining other road sections for possible ban zones. As previously reported, the Hamburg economic policy professor Wolfgang Maennig, who had evaluated last year's values, had criticised that driving bans in individual streets could have no effect. Instead, larger areas would probably have to ban the entry of older diesel vehicles. The focus is on sections of Habichtstraße as well as the streets of Nordkanalstraße, Spaldingstraße and Högerdamm.

At the same time, more and more streets in Hamburg are being declared car-free zones. Last October, Jungfernstieg became a car-free zone. In the Volksdorf district in the north-east of the city, a promenade is to be created from August next year. No cars will then be allowed to drive on the street in the Alter Dorfe for an initial test phase of eight weeks. This should improve the quality of life, reduce pollutant emissions and noise levels and thus create advantages for restaurants and businesses. In Hamburg-Ottensen, the car-free zone had been abolished again due to resistance from the business community.

In other cities, too, car-free zones are increasingly the method of choice. Berlin's Friedrichstraße and the Mainkai in Frankfurt are just a few examples. Whether they can be an alternative to diesel driving bans is uncertain from both a health and socio-economic perspective.

Find out how the diesel driving bans are progressing in Hamburg.