Berlin mayor turns down new cycling law, despite enormous CO2 emissions

Berlin is missing its CO2 emissions targets, and the government is rejecting a perfectly excellent law that could assist comprise the shortage, according to the activists behind a petition focused on making the German capital much better for bicyclists.

5s3 The initiative “Volksentscheid Fahrrad” (” bike referendum”) is attempting to gather sufficient signatures to force a referendum on a brand-new law that would introduce an array of changes to the city, including making harmful crossings more secure for bicyclists, establishing a 350-kilometer (220-mile) network of bike lanes throughout the city, and 200,000 additional parking areas.

In a statement released on Monday, the initiative accused Berlin’s Mayor Michael Muller of stalling the petition and actively continuing the city’s car-centered transportation policy, regardless of being on course to its target of minimizing carbon emissions by 40 percent on 1990 levels by 2020. Present prognoses reveal the city will barely reach a 20-percent cut.
To intensify the viewed hypocrisy, the effort explained that Muller will on Wednesday open the “German Habitat Forum,” a conference focused on making cities more “sustainable” and “habitable.”.

” Mr. Muller states he is happy to be the host of the event because in Berlin you can straight observe participatory sustainable development,” the initiative said in a statement, including that “in truth, Berlin is building car highways that would be considered undesirable from an environmental perspective.”.

An open goal.

The campaign received support from 60 researchers and researchers on Monday, whose spokesperson gave a discussion on the predicament of contemporary cities at a press conference in Berlin. Stephan Rammler, teacher of transportation design in Braunschweig, mentioned that global roadway traffic is anticipated to increase by several orders of magnitude in the next couple of decades, and, “No one, no researcher, has any idea how that traffic increase will be dealt with.”.

He also reiterated the words of UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon, who told a delegation of mayors in 2012, “Our struggle for global sustainability will be won or lost in cities.” According to Rammler, some 70 percent of the world’s CO2 emissions come from cities, and 23 percent of that is produced by road traffic.

” This is the only sector where there is no change in trend,” said Benjamin Stephan, another scientist supporting the effort. “The energy sector in Germany is shifting to renewables, and you can see comparable impacts across the globe. And cities are the supreme location where you can start that trend, because of the density of cities you have shorter paths, and there is the chance to make do without cars.”.

That’s why, Rammler stated, he was so surprised that Muller and the Berlin federal government is choosing not to countenance the initiative’s tip for a biking law, developed to make cycling easier and much safer in the city, which could possibly decrease every Berliner’s carbon footprint by 0.3 loads annually. “It’s truly a penalty without a goalkeeper,” Rammler said.

Not so simple as it looks.

The Berlin federal government, at the same time, described that forming a city’s facilities is a lot more complicated than it looks. “Making optimum demands that can’t be implemented does not assist anyone,” stated Martin Pallgen, representative for the ministry for city development and the environment.


“Sustainable movement should, in the government’s viewpoint, be ensured with preference for public transportation, cycling, and pedestrians. That always has to happen in an incorporated plan as part of a total transportation policy. Re-structuring streets and public spaces is constantly a working out process of different interests and needs.”.

But the campaigners state that the Muller administration has intentionally stalled the biking initiative, first by postponing the main budget for the brand-new costs, and then pumping up the possible expense. According to the city, the proposed law will cost over 2.1 billion euros ($ 2.3 billion) – the campaigners say you might only reach that figure if you make the maximum possible building costs, and make no allowance for intelligent solutions.

” Whether you believe they raised the cost intentionally or not, we believe that figure is at least seven times too high,” said campaign spokesperson Heinrich Str ssenreuther.

The example of Copenhagen, whose facilities policy is typically applauded for optimizing the city for bicyclists and pedestrians, has actually revealed that the conversion can be more affordable. “They chose 30 or 40 years ago they want to focus on bikes and public transport, and this is settling now,” Stephan informed DW. “And here in Berlin you have very wide streets, so you can put in good bike infrastructure without having to block a street totally for vehicles or anything like that.”.

5s4And besides, said Rammler, even an expensive cycle course expenses just a fraction of an expensive roadway: “One kilometer of cycle lane costs 200,000 euros, but one kilometer of highway expenses six million euros,” he said. Why is Muller being so resistant? According to Str ssenreuther, the mayor is working with a PR agency with public money to “run an advertising campaign versus the Bicycle Referendum.” The federal government described this as “rubbish.” The ministry was merely hiring a company to “enhance interaction on the concern of biking,” Pallgen said.

” I think the federal government didn’t consider it as very important for a very long time,” Str ssenreuther said, skeptically. “And now they’re being pressed by the population. And they’re just protecting themselves for now.”.