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.
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.
In the objectives of the recently elected Bremen state government, regulation and limitation of parking are at the forefront. Strategic measures from the Bremen Transport Development Plan 2025 have now finally been included in the operative catalogue of objectives of our state government.
In addition, civil society is increasingly calling for a decisive change in transport policy. Among other things, it no longer accepts the unsustainable situation in many urban neighbourhoods caused by illegally parked cars and the climate-damaging “successes” of an automobile industry advertising the purchase of large cars against all common well-being:
– be it that on a local level the Bremer Verkehrswende-Bündnis has adopted the demands for comprehensive fee-based parking as an essential lever for the societal move “away from the car – towards a sustainable transport and a city worth living in”,
– be it that the demands for a stepwise reduction in the number of parking spaces, for city tolls and consistent charging of parking are now clearly demanded by the many groups that support the climate strikes in Bremen,
– be it that a growing number of associations and groups operating nationwide make themselves heard and demand a clear renunciation of the radical (almost) inaction from federal and state governments.
With this post, I would like to explain the term “parking space management” and explore its context in order to be able to be more linguistically uniform in our demands regarding such questions as “reclaiming public space” and indeed “parking” and to give them ever stronger impact.
An agitated lady stands at the Busestraße tram stop. “I have to take risks just to get to the bus stop”, she says. She pushes her rollator along the footpath and cycle path between the densely parked cars, lightly touches a vehicle door and daringly steps on to the road. A vehicle in front of her is already racing along the road. Her view is completely blocked. She yanks back her rollator in shock, which unfortunately has no magic eyes to tell her if the road is clear.
A vehicle parked on the protective strip between road and cycle path, a sanitation company, has gotten hold of a “weekend parking lot” here on the pedestrian and cycle path area and enjoys it under the eyes of a lethargic authority, not to mention the police.“Company car park” of a sanitary company (Photo: Bernd Thomsen)
But the offender is not alone. A considerable number of parking offenders have been supporting him for years, in disregard of the relevant traffic regulations .- Has the authority failed in its duties due to a lack of traffic monitoring? Consistent traffic monitoring here is essential, with regular speeding traffic. Continue reading The Great Tram Stop Adventure→
The Friedrich-Ebert-Strasse in the Neustadt district of Bremen is heavily congested, or better said: a four-lane traffic hell. People who live on this road are exposed to unbearable levels of noise and air pollution every day. Because this road – 30 m wide, then 60 m wide before it turns into the Wilhelm-Kaisen-Bridge – offers generous space for motorized traffic. Pedestrians and cyclists, on the other hand, have to share the narrow (4 m) sidewalk, and can hardly ever cross the road safely.
Should this be the case? Is this appropriate for a modern urban environment?
The newly-elected Bremen coalition government has agreed ambitious changes to transport policy, and placed them at the forefront of the coalition agreement (Draft Agreement on Cooperation in a Government Coalition for Bremen, 2019-2023), hereafter referred to as the “Koa Treaty”. Meanwhile this draft has been approved internally by all parties of the coalition and it will thus be put into effect by the coalition parties in the near future.
At the same time, the Bremen Alliance for Transport Change -on the basis of the findings of the conference held in Oct. 2018– has set itself the goal of achieving the practical implementation of its core requirement, the introduction of a city-wide management of public parking areas in Bremen, making parking chargeable all over the place.
This post opens a series on the topic “Management of public parking spaces”. The aim is to provide activists in Bremen with a common conceptual and factual framework for their actions in initiatives, associations, district councils, etc.
Parkallee in Bremen is part of a planned Premium Route for cycling that runs from the university in the north to the city centre. For too long, this 500 metre section between Am Stern and the city’s main railway lines has dominated discussions and negotiations. How can cyclists can traverse this section safely and quickly?Continue reading Parkallee in Bremen: Missing the Target→
Bremen’s Transport Development Plan is again under attack from the car-friendly city brigade. Just a few weeks after it decided to increase the number of parking spaces on the controversial Parkallee cycle street, the local council in Schwachhausen has proposed to legalise rogue parking on three streets in the district. In every case, this involves vehicles using part of the pavement as a convenient way of being able to park on both sides of the street without blocking the road.
Bremen’s Transport Transition Alliance issued a statement condemning the proposal, accusing it of capitulating to illegal parking without considering how to combat it:
“The local council itself (referring to the extremely rare traffic control interventions) talked of a “state failure”. Their aspirations however, completely contradict the goals of a sustainable change in our transport situation, and are an expression of resignation in the face of the previous apparent inactivity of Bremen’s policy and administration regarding car parking”.
What makes the proposal even stranger is the fact that the local council has a progressive/left majority, with 11 members from the SPD, Greens and Die Linke, and 8 from the CDU and FDP from the right. In fact, both the Parkallee proposal and the move to legalise pavement parking were opposed by just one Green member.Continue reading The Desperados of Schwachhausen→
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