Offener Brief an die Landesregierung Bremens gegen das Falschparken

It’s National Illegal Parking Week in Germany. As part of a series of actions in Bremen, the Bremen Alliance for A Transport Transition sent the following letter to members of the state government of the State of Bremen:

Dear Mayor of Bremen, and dear Bremen Senators,

This letter is a protestation. We strongly object to the official practice of your government to allow illegal car parking on Bremen’s pavements. This kind of car parking categorically transgresses the law and Road Traffic Regulations [Straßenverkehrsordnung]. Pavements are a public space for pedestrians. Pavements are not a private space for car parking.

The Bremer Senate has adopted the implementation plan of the UN’s Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (UN-CRPD), thereby binding Bremen’s government to its goals. Article 9 of the UN-CRPD commits the signatories to take appropriate measures to ensure to persons with disabilities access, on an equal basis with others, including the physical environment. These measures include the identification and elimination of obstacles and barriers to accessibility. Equal access includes access to spaces of public life and transport systems.

Personal mobility with a maximum of independence is supposed to be facilitated by the signatories (Article 20). Enabling personal mobility is a prerequisite to participation in public life.

These are the promises that the politicians and civic society organisations have signed up to and endorsed. Why is it possible that Bremen’s government does not promptly act on these promises of mobility free from barriers?  We demand that Bremen government officials implement the prevailing law and regulations.

We have identified you, Senator Mäurer, in your authority as Senator for City Affairs, to have the responsibility to ensure the orderly implementation of the UN-CRPD by the council. This means that the government, with immediate effect, should cease the deplorable practice that allows illegal car parking on pavements including the 5-metre junction rule.

We have noticed that the government have reinterpreted what they deem acceptable use of public space. Your government started to tolerate illegal car parking. This reinterpretation, however, does not take into account all users of public space. Your government’s reinterpretation is now restricting free movement on pavements. Yet, what is passing as acceptable use of pavements must be based on adopted policies of the government. Without appropriate signage, the parking of cars on pavements is illegal. A mobility free from barriers requires a minimum pavement width of two metres.
For many years citizens have informed the government of these illegalities. And often these incidents have been severe. The media also has amplified these voices: the negative impact of illegal car parking on children and mobility-impaired people, the loss of personal independence, public freedoms and equal access. The apparent leniency by your officials towards illegal car parking further exacerbates the situation: citizens are given the impression that the parking up of public space is acceptable.

The rigorous enforcement of illegal car parking has now become of paramount importance. The government should no longer tolerate dangerous and careless car parking. The government must equitably manage parking space and car parking.
In doing so, this would benefit Bremen’s citizenry on the whole: emergency services, deliveries, cycling, children, older people and people with impaired mobility.
The use of physical measures alone, such as bollards to prevent car parking, are not sufficient, and sometimes counterproductive: even more public space is wasted and new obstacles are created.  Furthermore, the gaps between bollards can too easily be re-interpreted as free space for parking.

The solutions to the challenge of cars in public space must be holistic.In sum, we ask you – as respectfully as we do forcefully – to notify your officials. The Bremen government must now enact policy and law and accordingly implement the UN-CRPD with immediate effect.

Yours faithfully

Bremer Alliance for Transport Transition (Bremen Friends of the Earth , VCD e.V., ADFC e.V. und FUSS e.V.)

Sharing a car in Bremen: What we gain

We’ve had enough! More and more cars fill our streets, less and less space for everyone else. So what could a CarSharing (Car Club) system do for us? If several people share one car we need less of them, and fewer parking spaces are needed.

In Bremen nearly 15,000 people use Cambio. Founded 30 years ago as a community association called „Stadtauto“.


Cambio Car 16 years ago (2002)

Right now (May 2018) Cambio offers 331 cars of different sizes, based at 91 stations around the city for 14,800 users in Bremen und Bremerhaven.

Continue reading Sharing a car in Bremen: What we gain

European Push and Pull

The Amsterdam approach to car parking which we previously outlined is also regarded as a model for the European Push & Pull project.


Carfree Parking in Bremen

Push-Pull is essentially a package of carrot and stick policies: I’ll take something away from you, e.g. Free parking, and give you something back, e.g. more trams, quality cycleways, safe pavements.In short: improved quality of life through better mobility.

Continue reading European Push and Pull

A Never-Ending Story

The never-ending story about the illegally parked car of the key cutting company in Bremen’s Wachmannstraße rumbles on. Little has changed since our last post in summer 2017. The yellow car still sits day and night on the pavement directly on top of the guidance system for visually impaired citizens.

Councillors searching for evidence

During the summer holidays the little yellow obstacle did not appear, but straight after the hols it went back to „normal“. Local councillors and others repeatedly pointed this violation of existing law out to the police, but the bobbies did not seem to believe in it. They showed a „Who are you?“ attitude. And they did not want to check it, not even by their colleague who cycles in this area every day.

The speaker of the Schwachhausen council finally filed a charge. So the police happily gave her some tasks: Take photos, note date and time, but not just that: take a second picture four minutes later, otherwise there is no evidence for parking. But if you look into the German highway code (StVO) you realize all this is not necessary. §12 tells you: „Parking happens if you leave your car or stay with your car for more than 3 minutes in one place.“ So leaving your car is enough evidence for parking. A picture of an empty car without a driver is sufficient. But our reliable councillor took her pictures – click ….4 minutes of waiting….click. She did that for a quite of lot of times and finally handed her production over to the police. What happened? Nothing.

4th January and 13th January

Questionnaire as an incentive?

After her request about her charge she was told by „the guardians of the law“ that the car owner received a questionnaire. The result is amazing: Now his yellow obstacle appears even more often and stays for longer than before – for days it is not moved, blocking the access to the tram for disabled people.

8th January, early and late evening

Now the tram has to stop in a way that her back part doesn’t reach the tram stop area any more. And even other cars have started to copy the behaviour of the yellow car driver.

So, what is going on?

So our police – for whatever reason – openly supports illegal parking that obstructs and jeopardises other citizens. Our key cutter relies on their support. The guardians of the law have decided to prioritise convenient car parking over the rights of disabled people, and a small company gets a free licence for illegal parking. It’s pointless trying to point out the legal situation, to deliver evidence or file a charge. Even the appeals of the local council and its subcommittees are dismissed. 

This story is a metaphor for a dominant (though thankfully not all-encompassing) stream of thought in Bremen’s upper echelons. Where there is limited public road space, prioritise cars, and even parked cars, over sustainable modes of transport, even when this disadvantages the already disadvantaged.

Wazzup On Parkallee?


Fahrradstraße Parkallee – parkende Autos, Mischverkehr, Chaos

For some time now – from near and afar – I’ve been rubbernecking the ongoing saga of Parkallee – and the council’s to-ing and fro-ing, politicians and officers alike. What to do? What’s going on? At one point there is a cycleway, then there isn’t, now you see it, now you don’t, then no-one quite knows what’s really happening. The thing for me is this: where is the decision-making clarity? Where is the solid foundation to traffic – and in particular cycle – policy? Continue reading Wazzup On Parkallee?

Illegal Parking in Bremen:  Not a Victimless Crime

We like Bremen and chose to make it our home

Like many families, my partner and I chose to raise our children in Bremen because we enjoy the quality of life here.  Like the San Francisco Bay Area where I grew up, Bremen is multicultural, progressive, and openminded.  Unlike most of the United States, however, it is still relatively affordable for working families. Continue reading Illegal Parking in Bremen:  Not a Victimless Crime