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Hamburg soon with new diesel driving bans?

The driving ban for older diesel vehicles has no effect on air quality. Also because only two streets are affected. Will this result in larger diesel driving ban zones?

Since May 2018, older diesel vehicles have been banned in Max-Brauer-Allee and Stresemannstraße. While all diesel vehicles up to Euro5 are banned in Max-Brauer-Allee, only trucks up to Euro5 are affected in Stresemannstraße. The driving bans were introduced because the EU limits had been exceeded in previous years. A green environmental zone, as in so many other cities in Germany, still does not exist in Hamburg. This is despite the fact that Hamburg has the worst air quality in Germany according to the study "Bundesländerindex Mobilität & Umwelt" by the research institute Quotas.

The nitrogen dioxide values have fallen so far that they are now just below the EU limits. However, this trend is generally to be seen in the national average. Hamburg economic policy professor Wolfgang Maennig, who compared Hamburg's 2019 data with the nationwide trend, attributed the improvement mainly to fleet renewal. There has been little change in particulate matter. "If there are any effects at all, they may be offset by drivers taking detours," Maennig said.

There are also various exceptions in the two affected streets: For example, residents, buses, business customers and tradesmen are still allowed to enter. In addition, individual checks of vehicles must take place to detect violations. This is costly and time-consuming. Last year, about 250 fines were distributed. The fine, which was previously €20, has now risen to €50.

For the time being, Hamburg wants to stick to the diesel driving ban and evaluate the values again next year. The results of the study could lead other cities to see diesel driving bans in general as useless. However, Maennig says that extending the bans over two streets is simply too small to see a positive effect: "You probably have to close whole areas and not just two streets for the driving ban to have an effect on air quality." So this could also mean that diesel driving bans will not only affect individual roads in the future, but soon entire urban areas.

You can find Hamburg's diesel driving ban zones as well as all other existing driving bans in Germany in our Green-Zones app.