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.
The shock of Corona in recent history is only comparable to the attacks of September 11, 2001. In both cases new rules and state powers were established almost overnight. This time it is not a question of fighting terrorism, but of preventing epidemics. But this time, too, almost all areas of public and private life are affected. The Corona crisis will have a particular impact on the future design and use of public space. Because of the need to protect against infection, it is likely that even after the current phase of rigid restrictions, distancing rules will have to be observed for the foreseeable future.
But it’s still in our hands. We can either allow further restrictions to be placed on public space or, by redistributing it, enable equal participation. This could go hand in hand with a transport policy that puts people at the centre, and at the same time takes better account of air pollution control and climate protection. Pedestrian traffic can be promoted by planning sufficient space on pavements. The capacities of public transport and railways must be increased to minimise the risk of infection. Car lanes can be reserved for bicycles to ensure safety and distance. Continue reading After Corona – The future of public space→
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