Dependent on the car: who is it and what are their rights?
The parking situation in Bremen is a horror in many places: many drivers park their vehicles in the most impossible places – regardless of whether this endangers other road users or impairs the flow of traffic. In discussions about this, the argument “But I’m dependent on my vehicle – it has to be parked somewhere” is often used. But who really is?
In answering this question, I distinguish between people who believe they are dependent on a vehicle and those who really have a legal right to special parking arrangements.
The city of Bremen is facing a major challenge. It is obliged to design traffic space in an inclusive way, enabling equal participation of all road users and modes of transport. This follows from the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (UNCRPD), which has been incorporated into federal and Bremen laws (see part 1).
or: How the Germans could become more beautiful and happier (Ricarda Huch)
“I believe that if all Germans cycled, they would lose their dull sensuality and be happier and more agreeable.” (Ricarda Huch to Richard Huch 1896)
The Free Hanseatic City of Bremen was a pioneer in the successful promotion of cycling in Germany in the 19th century1. And today, every second cyclist in Bremen is a woman – at least. But that was by no means the case 150/160 years ago. The bicycle – initially developed as a penny-farthing – was a male means of transport. Sons of wealthy merchants, factory owners and aristocrats could afford such a thing, because in 1880 a penny-farthing cost at least 200 marks, which was unaffordable for the working class. Even in 1912, the cheapest touring bike cost 30 marks, the equivalent of two weeks’ wages for a worker2.
There were plenty of women who fancied sport and exercise, and the bicycle was an attractive, if dangerous, option. But there were essentially three obstacles standing between bicycles and women: social norms and (consequent) clothing, the slow pace of technological change, and the price of a bicycle.
There is hardly an issue in Bremen that is as heated as the parking of cars in residential areas. Questions like these arise: Who does resident parking help? Is parking on pavements permissible? And if so, under what conditions? What rights do pedestrians have? The debate is characterised by assumptions and unsubstantiated claims on the part of both proponents and opponents of a sustainable traffic turnaround. Reason enough to take a look at the binding provisions of road and traffic law in a series of articles on Bremenize. Continue reading Pavement Parking and Accessibility→
Bremen has a long history of developing tools that have been proven to encourage and enable more people to cycle. The first German cycle path was built here in 1897, cycle streets were invented in Bremen in the 1970s, as was contra-flow cycling on one-way streets. More recently, cycle neighbourhoods have been developed, and mandatory bike lanes built.
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 organisations such as BUND, NABU, citizens‘ and neighbourhood initiatives, and transport organisations such as ADFC, VCD; Fuss e.V., Forum for Transportation Transformation („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 sidewalksIn the summer of 2020, a visually impaired man was seriously injured in Bremen when he tripped over an electric scooter. He hasfiled 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)