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

Parking: Expensive for everyone except drivers

 Is Parking a Basic Right?

What does our community do when it offers free parking for almost everyone? Do free parking spaces constitute a needed public service such as education or health? Why am I allowed to buy a car without having to think about where I can park this car, day or night?


Parking on the cycle path in Bremen

Why am I paying rent or property tax for my house, but use free public space to park my private tin can?
Continue reading Parking: Expensive for everyone except drivers

Dangerous drivers from a parent’s perspective

Sunday night on the way home from the swimming pool my 8 year old daughter and I were almost run over by a car turning left into the crosswalk where we were (legally!) crossing the street.


Annes daughter watchful/An der Ecke Kornstraße/Kirchweg

Unfortunately we experience similar situations several times a week, since traffic enforcement in Bremen is dying out, and frustrated car drivers take their aggression out on the “weak.” This incident occurred at the intersection of Kirchweg and Kornstrasse in the Neustadt, just seconds away from our front door.

Continue reading Dangerous drivers from a parent’s perspective

Bremen’s First Premium Route

When a cycling city like Bremen, with a cycling modal share of 25%, announces its flagship cycling infrastructure initiative of this parliament, you would expect at least some bold and innovative measures. The name of the flagship policy – Premium Routes – certainly trumpets the idea that these will be even better than the existing, substantial, cycling network. Continue reading Bremen’s First Premium Route