The first environmental track already started on Tuesday in the Ruhr metropolis of Essen.
The special lane, like other German eco lanes, may only be used by bicycles, buses and emergency vehicles. Motorbikes, all cars and all delivery traffic are therefore excluded. It runs along a 1.2 kilometre section of the inner city ring road and, according to information from the city, has cost the taxpayer a whopping two million euros. Whether the money is well invested or a medium catastrophe such as the one in Düsseldorf, the capital of North Rhine-Westphalia, is imminent remains questionable and must be awaited. For Simone Raskob (Greens), head of the environment department, however, a botched failure a lá Düsseldorf is unrealistic. Essen would have installed an eco lane, but in contrast to other cities, two lanes were maintained throughout. Often, another urgently needed lane is crushed in favour of one eco lane - unlike in Essen. Due to a legal dispute with the organisation Deutsche Umwelthilfe (DUH), the metropolis of millions in the Ruhr area had to resort to this measure in order to thwart diesel driving bans in return, which would even have threatened the A40, one of the main traffic axes of the entire Rhine-Ruhr region. Essen's Lord Mayor Thomas Kufen (CDU) emphasises this fact to the BILD newspaper: "We are thus implementing another measure from the settlement with the German Environmental Aid.
Even in Düsseldorf, just a few kilometres up the Rhine, the hotly debated eco lanes remain active for the time being. The request of the FDP parliamentary group for a temporary suspension of the special lanes was rejected in the committee for order and traffic with the help of votes of the CDU.
On the opening day of the Essen eco lane, one or two drivers "lost their way" in the new lane, which was punished by the police with an administrative fine of 15 euros each.
By the way: No comparable project has ever been able to provide concrete evidence that eco lanes lead to an improvement in air quality and are therefore justified.