The Bargain Hunters

photo: Konrad Zaiss

Regular readers will know that, until now, we have never had to offer an explanation of a post over on the German language side of our blog. But the background to today’s commentary probably requires explanation for pretty well anyone outside Bremen.

Back in 2016 we reported how positive modifications to the Stern roundabout were being used to sneak in a proposal to remove separated cycleways on Parkallee, recently designated a cycle street. Two months ago we published an update on the rudderless to-ing and fro-ing that is the saga. Local cyclists preferred their safe tracks away from cars, whilst a spate of near-misses and a few collisions between car drivers and cyclists on the road suggested that this was not a good idea.

Then in December 2017 the ADFC proposed a simple solution – one lane on each side of the dual carriageway should be coverted to cycle lanes. Double-parked cars that were using the lane – there is already adequate parking between the carriageway and the pavement – would be removed. Given that there are three times as many cyclists as motorists using the street, this seemed reasonable.

But clearly, local residents felt otherwise. The Holy Grail of transport policy – car parking spaces – was being threatened. A War on the Motorist was being declared! So a group of people of the somewhat middle-class district of Barkhof organised a petition to demand their rights as motorists to park their cars wherever they wished. With no strategy to guide them, the authorities caved in and proposed handing over one lane of each carriageway , not to cyclists, but to parked cars. What is more, reserved residents parking will be introduced with a charge of €30 per year.

So here is our response….

He rubs his Hanseatic hands and feels content with himself and the world!

If all goes well, the brave and dedicated inhabitants of the beautiful Barkhof district will gain a real bargain for themselves and their families! He stands with a quivering heart, full of energy and self-assurance of his role as a good citizen, perhaps occasionally outraged. Such noble sentiments are so often painfully missing elsewhere in our great city!

He will rent a plot of land in the Barkhofviertel, where the apartments of the People are somewhat larger, prettier and more expensive.  Barkhofviertel, where noble traders do their business. There in Barkhofviertel, just outside the city centre, where doctor and broker, consultant and lawyer , senior officials and middle economic managers say “good night” to their loved ones each evening.

He has quite a nose for a bargain, with a Hanseatic businessman’s shrewdness. A plot? For around 10 ct. rent per square metre per month? In Schwachhausen, where nothing goes for less than 5 € per square metre per month? A plot that will be designed and built to his bespoke requirements, and a rent that will include maintenance and all additional costs? Who would turn down such a super bargain? He has to act, he just has to grab it with both hands- on principle!

With a few hundred signatures, he brings together like-minded bargain hunters. Telephone wires are glowing, as contacts are activated, communication is efficient and unbureaucratic. Civic commitment! The Active Citizen! Strength through association! And if by any chance you want something different, get out of the way, for the times, they are a changin’! What? The authorities don’t agree with us? Unheard of, the city belongs to us citizens!

 

So dear reader, you might wonder: “10 cents per square metre per month”? A quick calculation reveals the rationale: € 30 per year per parking permit in the residents parking area equals € 2.50 per month for 12 square metres, equals …”

And “as you probably know, 5 € per square metre in Barkhof has for ages been a thing of the past!” On kleinanzeigen.de you might still find a garage space on private ground for € 60 monthly rent, but who really wants to pay that for a garage space when the taxpayers of Bremen are so generously offering  a 98 % rebate…

“Hang on”, you say? “That’s 50 times the price Bremen authorities charge residents for a parking permit!” You’re absolutely right – that just proves how well the good citizen of Barkhof is able to calculate, just as long as it is for the good of his own purse.

 

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