After this week’s Buten un Binnen Wahl Lokal broadcast failed to address the self-proclaimed second most important issue in the forthcoming election (transport), we thought we would be helpful and provide a summary of the main parties’ positions.
Seven parties featured in the transmission.
The CDU programme, whilst still heavy on road construction – the extension of the A20 to Bremerhaven is deemed a priority – argues for a “pragmatic” balancing of the various transport interests. A key strategy is to use digital technology to “shorten travel and delivery times”. The party wants to make it easier for motorists to find free parking spots through the use of digital technology. Though how this will help the majority who are on the search for free on-street (and often illegal) parking without comprehensive parking management, is not made clear.
But to our main issue, cycling. The CDU want to support cycling, not just as a means of mobility, but as a “healthy and environmentally friendly means of transport”. But specific measures are limited. More cycle parking, better traffic light management, including cycling in any future road planning, and supporting “small scale” measures like cycle leasing for public employees.
But the CDU have no strategic ideas for reducing the amount of motorised traffic in Bremen. Indeed their policies can only increase it. “Verkehrswende” is not addressed at all.
The SPD recognises the important role cycling already plays in Bremen’s transport, pointing out that we have the highest modal share for cycling of all German cities with over half a million inhabitants, and therefore the lowest air pollution levels. The SPD broadly supports existing initiatives like Cycle Neighbourhoods and Premium Cycle Routes, thought they want to put more emphasis on repairing and upgrading existing infrastructure. The SPD also put a strong stress on cycle tourism, and especially improving access to and along the River Weser.
The SPD do address the issue of the Transport Transition, though in only a limited way. They write:
“In order to reduce traffic in the inner-city area, we want to examine to what extent the use of public transport in general can be made free of charge in a certain core area of the city centre. This would be a contribution to the necessary Transport Transition and would also have positive effects on tourism”.
Die Linke also mention the Transport Transition in their manifesto.
“The logic of capitalist growth destroys the livelihoods on this planet. For DIE LINKE, environmental policy is therefore a central component of the necessary social-ecological change in our society. We see it as our task to advocate for an energy transition, the protection of natural resources, an ecological Transport Transition, and a sustainable economy. In order to tackle the climate crisis, significantly stronger strategic and concrete measures must be taken than the Red-Green Senate has done in the past twelve years”.
Die Linke argue that “transport planning is still primarily geared towards cars”, and therefore the way road space is shared needs to be re-thought. “At present, the share of cycling in Bremen is decreasing. There is a large group that simply does not dare to use the bike. This uncertainty can be solved by real, demarcated and wide cycleways, with one lane per direction of travel.” They continue with theme of quality infrastructure, arguing that Premium Routes only make sense if they meet these quality criteria. The party also wants to develop a “green wave” on major cycle routes, and a comprehensive bike rental system.
The AfD election manifesto mentions the word “Verkehrswende” once, but only to denounce it:
“The Transport Transition endangers the industrial base (of Bremen) and denies our citizens the freedom to determine their own mobility”.
“Stau” appears once. Their 1950s solution is to build more roads.
The word “Fahrrad” doesn’t appear at all.
The Greens, unsurprisingly, prioritise cycling. As a base policy, they wants to quadruple the funding of cycling infrastructure. The money will be spent on pedestrian and cycle bridges, more Cycle Neighbourhoods, Premium Cycle Routes, repairing existing cycleways, and building new protected cycle lanes. The Greens also envisage an increase in staff to manage the greatly expanded budget.
The Greens are not short on ideas. They want to build 500 new cycle parking spaces each year, help set up cycle repair cafés, and small cycle garages in local neighbourhoods, increase cargo bike and other kinds of bike sharing, fund public tyre-pump stations, and charging points for electric bikes.
Interestingly, in contrast to the high tech traffic light offering of the CDU, the Greens argue that this kind of approach is actually very expensive. They propose a much more economic, and pedestrian-friendly alternative – more zebra crossings.
Regarding the Transport Transition, the Greens are clear about what it requires:
“We GREENs want to make the transport transition to fewer cars..… We will consistently manage the parking space and create more parking space for bicycles and mobile points for car sharing at the expense of the general car parking space.”
The FDP make no bones about where they stand. They see Bremen as a “modern car city”, in which cyclists and pedestrians are allowed to co-exist. Their manifesto is almost anglo-saxon in its language, essentially equating “traffic” with “motorised traffic”. Thus “free flowing traffic” is all about motorised traffic. But they do offer one short section to cycling, and it does make a valid point. Here it is:
“We Free Democrats want to make cycling in Bremen and Bremerhaven safer. Therefore, we are committed to consistently pursuing the concept of clear separation of different road users. When roads are rehabilitated, separate bicycle lanes should be created where possible. Bicycle lanes, which cause many cyclists to feel insecure, become superfluous. In addition, in the pedestrian zones in Bremen and Bremerhaven, which are wide enough, we want to allow cycling for the time being with the proviso of mutual consideration as a test.”
Finally, there’s Bürger in Wut. The “Wut” – “fury” – in their title is partly explained by their reaction to what they see as the red-green “war on the motorist”. Their transport policy is primarily geared to relieving motorised traffic jams through green waves, technology and limiting speed limits. No mention of Transport Transition. On cycling, BiW state:
“The cycling network should be modernised and expanded. For the sake of their safety, cyclists need their own road infrastructure”. Though there is no further clarification of what concrete proposals would be followed through.
Their top candidate at the Buten un Binnen Wahl Lokal broadcast, Hinrich Lührssen, suggested that theTransport Transition would bring “traffic chaos” to the streets of Bremen and Bremerhaven. He really needs to visit a few more cities with a low cycling modal share if he wants to see “traffic chaos” for real.
So there we have it. Seven party platforms for the state elections to be held on 26 May 2019. Bremen’s ADFC have also produced a handy 7-question analysis with five of the parties. You can read the results (in German) here.
Opinion polls suggest that there will really only be two options for future governance – a grand coalition of CDU and SPD, or a red-red-green coalition of SPD, Greens and Die Linke, with the latter looking most likely. If you would like to find out where your own views stand, have a go at the Bremen Wahl-O-Mat (in German).