The Time Is Ripe – Parking Must Cost

The New Bremen Politics of Parking

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.

Episode 1: The coalition agreement as a starting point

Title page of the Koa Treaty (draft)

Already in the preamble of the Koa Treaty (see pp. 2 ff.), the future government partners emphasise the necessity to push forward the change in transport policy. It will therefore be helpful for all activists to know the contract well, to refer to it in discussions and disputes, as the Koa Treaty is to be considered the “target agreement” of the future government of Bremen – still containing reservations regarding funding on the one hand, but with a clear naming of priorities on the other hand.

Here we focus on the statements of the Koa Treaty regarding parking; they are cited in italics. Numbers at the beginning of a line indicate the corresponding line in the overall version of the Koa Treaty; cuts are indicated by “(…)”.

Let’s start with the preamble (ibid, pp. 2 ff.)

“31 Preamble (…)

112 With our policy, we make a contribution to coping with climate change and to implementing socially viable change in transport policy in Bremen. (…) Pillars of Bremen’s climate protection policy are: (…) driving forward the change in transport policy by promoting attractive low-cost environmentally friendly mobility in the city centre as well as the development of a mandatory multi-level concept for a car-free inner city.

121 Our policies will strengthen social cohesion in our cities (note of author: Bremen and Bremerhaven) and reduce inequality between neighbourhoods. We have to improve the living conditions across all departments in the neighbourhoods (…). In doing so, we support local initiatives, we develop and strengthen public infrastructures (…)

131 We will strengthen citizens participation opportunities (…).

135 With our policy, housing in Bremen and Bremerhaven will remain affordable for everyone. (…) With our policy, we want to ensure that our country gains attractiveness and security for all. These include safe and clean neighbourhoods and reliable public services. (…) We want to strengthen the administration where it provides immediate services to the citizens.”

In the 26 “fields of action” in the Koa Treaty, important agreements are addressed in several places regarding  the topic “parking”:

In the field of action “Transport” (ibid., pp. 37 ff.), the measures relating to parking are specified in a dedicated section:

“1521 parking space. In view of the urban area shortage and in order to increase the quality of stay, we will need public space previously used as parking space for e.g. other road users and free- and play- areas. We also want to avail more space for bicycle parking and mobile points for car sharing. 

We will consistently manage public parking space, i.e. we will manage the inner-city areas and identify resident parking. We want to avoid strains on neighbouring quarters through change processes. We will develop the parking space management concept with the participation of the advisory boards and residents of the respective districts. 

After 12 years with stable prices, we will also be adjusting the parking fees in the city centre as a means to impact behaviour of motorists. An important benchmark for this is the amount of parking fees in comparable large cities. 

We will modernize the parking space regulation with the aim of replacing a compulsory share of the parking spaces with mobility management measures such as car sharing or season tickets for each construction project. This facilitates low-car or car-free housing projects. In order to relieve the newly planned residential areas of cars, we will set up parking spaces and garages for cars.” 

Joys of walking in Bremen


“1664 Accessibility”

“(…) We will consistently prevent illegal parking, especially at street junctions. We want to push back the illegal practice of parking on footwalk; to this end we will see consultation  with the advisory councils. Here also residents’ parking is included. This is the only way people with pushchairs, rollators and wheelchairs can move in a barrier-free and safe way, and garbage collection and rescue vehicles can come through the streets without any obstacles “

In addition to this, other chapters of the Koa Treaty also take up parking. The topic is addressed in the action fields:

➢    “Economy” (ibid, pp..78 ff.)

➢    “Home Affairs and Justice” (ibid., pp..117 ff.)

➢    “Financial Framework” (ibid, pp. 137 ff.) Here, the future coalition partners point to the tight financial framework, but they nonetheless emphasize, again, the change of transport policy to be amongst their priorities.

And what do you think of all this?                                                Foto: Beatrix Wupperman

So to what extent are the principles and demands of the Bremen Alliance for the Transport Transition reflected in the Koa Treaty? Here is our assessment. The “principles and demands” are shown below in boldface letters, and the assessment of the degree of their consideration in the Koa Teaty is introduced by “=>”.

The “principles” of the Alliance:

  1. 1. Public space belongs to all citizens of the city. As a parking lot it is much too precious. => Is addressed indirectly in the preamble.
  2. Parking is tolerated only in legal parking lots. Illegal parking (on green areas, pedestrian and cycle paths, at junctions and crossings) is consistently punished.=> is addressed with a focus on “parking in confluence areas”, parking on pavements is to be reduced.
  3. The parking spaces in public space will be gradually reduced.=> Conversion is addressed
  4. All public parking spaces are managed and made chargeable.=> is addressed with reference to the city centre. For the neighbourhoods “residents” parking is announced
  5. The parking fees increase with the proximity to the city centre and the density of the district.=> not addressed
  6. Parking in public areas should be more expensive than parking in a public garage. Parking iin a public garage should be more expensive than the use of publictransport => not addressed
  7. Paid resident parking is set up city-wide. Second car and RV should have no parking authorisation. For guests, the parking period should be limited. Short-term parking spaces should be set up for service providers and suppliers=> is addressed
  8. The so called “Umweltverbund” (walking, cycling, public transport, park & ride and carsharing) as an attractive alternative to your own car will be strengthened=> is repeatedly emphasized
  9. Revenue from parking space management is earmarked for improving the “Umweltverbund” and the enhancement of public space.=> Principle is not addressed, only the refinancing of surveillance forces


The “demands” of the Alliance:

Hiring of sufficient staff for the monitoring of the parking space, immediate start of the punishment of illegal parking.=> The increase in personnel is addressed, the date remains unspecified

Establishment of a planning group “Master Plan Parking Management” with participation of the associations (public authorities)=> is addressed, concept “Parking in the neighbourhoods”

Creation of the budgetary framework so that surpluses from parking management can be earmarked for environmental integration and the enhancement of public space=> is not addressed

So, well over half the Alliance’s aims are being addressed in the Koa Treaty. Implementation, on the other hand, is by no means certain. It will still require consistent lobbying by environmental transport organisations to ensure these laudable policies are actually carried out.

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