Accessibility in Bremen Traffic (Part A: Road Law)

Public space is always a scarce commodity in cities that have grown over time without central planning. Ever more, and ever bigger, vehicles are competing for the same amount of space. At the same time, private automobiles are continuing to push other modes of transport out of this public space. Currently, political as well as legal resistance to this situation is growing, supported by environmental organizations such as BUND, NABU, citizens‘ and neighborhood initiatives, and transport organizations such as ADFC, VCD; Fuss e.V., Forum for Transportation Transportation („Forum Verkehrswende“), Autofreier Stadttraum („Auto Free City Space/City Dreams“) and Coalition for Transportation Transformation („Bündnis Verkehrswende“). In addition, many citizens have filed
suit against the city-state for its lack of action against vehicles parked illegally on sidewalks. This problem is further complicated by electric scooters parked on sidewalks In the summer of 2020, a visually impaired man was seriously injured in Bremen when he tripped over an electric scooter. He has filed suit against the city-state for not protecting him from injury.
Parking on the sidewalk in Mindener Strasse in Peterswerder in Bremen (foto: Olaf Dilling)

In three subsequent episodes, this blog will cover the topic from a legal point of view and from am urban development perspective.

An English translation of the full text will follow in due course.

How to Transform A Busy Street

A transport transition needs to be attractive as well as contributing to safer cycling and walking . How could that work? A cycle street free of car traffic in the middle of the city, on a main road? Is that possible?

Major tram hubs, lit and sheltered, right at some of the city’s most important road junctions. Can we make that happen? The initiative “Einfach Einsteigen” (‘just hop on’) has developed creative solutions for these questions.

How Friedrich-Ebert-Straße could look. Graphic: Einfach Einsteigen

Continue reading How to Transform A Busy Street

Protected Bike Lanes in Corona Times: Do it Bremen!

After Corona (2): When will Bremen get Protected Bike Lanes?

Shortly before the outbreak of the pandemic, several protected bike lanes were announced in Bremen. In the meantime, we in Germany are in the middle of the second wave of infection – with a kind of “lockdown light”. Already during the first wave, cycle lanes were quickly and easily set up on multi-lane roads in many cities around the world and also in many German cities. These cities have thus responded to the changed conditions and the changing needs of their citizens during the pandemic.

In contrast, Bremen has so far not responded to the pandemic with a single pop-up cycle path.


Berlin, Kottbusser Damm: pop-up bike lane. Photo: Olaf Dilling

Continue reading Protected Bike Lanes in Corona Times: Do it Bremen!

Platz Da! Parliament Agrees Compromise

Platz Da! (There’s Space!) Bremen has collected 6,000 signatures in the Hanseatic city and held endless debates with politicians to make more space in Bremen for all people. Platz da! has fought for state-wide parking management, for the abolition of  parking on footpaths and cycle paths, for a proper enforcement of parking bans and for a transport transition in the city. The “comprehensive” aspect of their proposals was turned down by the ruling coalition, principally by the Social Democrats, but at least parking management is to be introduced in some districts – Mitte, Östliche Vorstadt, Schwachhausen, Findorff, Walle and Neustadt. It has been a long battle, but on 17 November 2020 parliament agreed the compromise. As an admonition and reminder for the members of parliament, the activists came to the Bürgerschaft…

Einfach Einsteigen: A Public Transport Revolution?

The climate crisis and need for a transformation to a sustainable traffic and transport system demand feasible concepts. The initiative “Einfach Einsteigen” (not exactly translateable, but close to Simply Enter; Get on (board)/hop on) has developed a calculated concept for financing the expansion and operation of Bremen’s local transport system. A role model for other cities as well?

Here is some background information on “Einfach Einsteigen” (hereafter abbreviated as “we”) financing concept for local transport as well as its assessment by the Bremen Senate. If the concept is implemented, the initiative claims, local transport in Bremen can be operated without tickets as well as comprehensively expanded.(Note:  this is operating  under  German  law) Continue reading Einfach Einsteigen: A Public Transport Revolution?

Politicians Moved to Address Sielwall


Sielwall end of 19th century Foto: Beatrix Wupperman

Sielwall – young men with overly-souped up cars race through it, and local politicians are finally seeing this as the danger that it is. Now the Sielwall and all four roads which lead to the so-called Sielwalleck are to be closed to car traffic up to 80 metres in each direction on weekend nights, thus eliminating through traffic. This is good. But instead of just closing short stretches of road temporarily, the Sielwalleck and the Sielwall need to be reconsidered and redesigned, for every day traffic, not just on the weekend. Continue reading Politicians Moved to Address Sielwall

Lost and found – what mayors (also) do elsewhere …

The mayor of Lauterecken-Wolfstein (a village in Palatinate, Germany) published a remarkable advertisement in the local newspaper in July with a very special thank you (see below). Imagine, how well it would do if the mayor, the senator for home affairs and the transport senator in the city of Bremen were to give similar recognition …! Core message of the ad: It is a special thank you in the name of children, parents with strollers, people in wheelchairs etc. in particular to all, who park their cars in a legally correct way, i.e. to those who are not mis-using the side walks for pedestrians in an illegal manner.

We need your opinion here in Bremen

As the summer holidays hit in,  transport senator Maike Schaefer is seeking the public’s  opinion and expertise regarding two major projects:

The VEP 2025 (Verkehrsentwicklungsplan = traffic development plan)

and the remake of a main road, Friedrich-Ebert-Straße in the Neustadt.

To make your life easier, a citizens’ initiative has already developed some helpful ideas. Have a look into their brochure.

As you can see in the poster above, both projects have tight deadlines for your ideas to be submitted: The VEP participation ends at the 2nd of August, and your ideas for the Friedrich-Ebert-Straße need to be handed in by the 31st of July.

Zebra Crossing – no chance in Bremen?

 There are hardly any zebra crossings in Bremen. Why is that so? Don’t they offer pedestrians safety? Do they disturb the car traffic? Are they too expensive to produce?

Zebra crossings are – strictly speaking – a stopgap in places where car traffic dominates urban traffic. They were made in Britain, like this probably most famous zebra crossing photo in Abbey Road with the Beatles.

One of Bremen’s rare zebra crossing at the main station, Foto: Richard Grassick

The protective effect of zebra crossings is beyond doubt. As the guidelines state: “MSDS are one of several ways of protecting pedestrians when crossing the road (see VwV on §25 StVO)” (German guidelines for pedestrian crossings, (R-FGÜ 2001). The federal states were asked to introduce these guidelines and to apply them from January 1, 2002. Continue reading Zebra Crossing – no chance in Bremen?

Sielwall in Bremen: The Law is a Joke??

On Friday 19th June a new phenomenon hit the streets of Bremen, or rather the street of Sielwall. That evening,  the entrance to Sielwall coming from the Osterdeich was augmented with no-entry street signs, with a time limit of “Fri – Sun 20h to 6h“. In other words, on Friday, Saturday and Sunday evenings and nights Sielwall is a one-way street in the direction of the Osterdeich.


Blocking the Siewall: Creating a one way road. Foto: ADFC

On the first weekend the authority (Which one? Office for Roads and Traffic?? Police) erected a barrier at the Osterdeich to stop car drivers at the entrance to the Sielwall. But on the second weekend there was no barrier at all – just the signs.. Continue reading Sielwall in Bremen: The Law is a Joke??