The future of a car-free Bergmannkiez
âThe supremacy of the car and the era of the car-friendly city are over.â With this great declaration, Monika Herrmann declared the Bergmannkiez to be Berlin’s âmodel project for the district of the futureâ in September last year. The district mayor of Friedrichshain-Kreuzberg, member of the Greens and veteran of local politics, wants to spend 8-11 million euros on turning a 500-meter-long section of Bergmannstrasse into a playground for pedestrians and cyclists.
In contrast, the person responsible for implementing this vision is a relatively new face in Berlin’s local politics: Felix Weisbrich has been responsible for roads and green spaces in the District Council since January 2019.As an advisor to the Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania Ministry of Agriculture, Weisbrich seized the opportunity to lend his hand to nature conservation for a project to turn in the capital. âI have seen and experienced the consequences of climate change up close, in storms and forest damage. I knew there was a mobility law in Berlin, so I thought, ‘This is a city that really wants to change something,’ âhe says.
Green dots and yellow blocks
Weisbrich is not the first to try to transform the lively street in the heart of the trendy Bergmannkiez into a pedestrian paradise. Bergmannstrasse was the test field for a 1.1 million euro project that was funded by the Berlin Senate pedestrian-friendly “meeting areas” with a speed limit of 20 km / h, in addition to a general parking ban.
The measures, first announced in 2011, included blocking cars, bright yellow street furniture called âparkletsâ for residents to mingle on, and green dots on the street to slow down traffic. The concept was ridiculed both locally and nationally for being costly and ineffective. The now notorious points and boulders were removed in September 2019 and the parklets relocated to a quieter section of the street.
The Council is not alarmed by this failure and is determined to get it right this time. The section of BergmannstraÃe between NostitzstraÃe and SchleichermacherstraÃe – past the popular Marheineke market hall – is to be closed to cars and motorbikes. In summer, it can cool the streets and distribute water to the trees on the street. A number of traffic-calming measures are to be taken on the surrounding streets: one-way streets, for example, access restrictions for residents and delivery traffic. The changeover has already begun, signage and speed limits were introduced in May and the construction of cycle paths started in June. The aim is to complete the project by 2025.
Increase the pace
The Friedrichshain-Kreuzberg District Council drew the lessons of its earlier pedestrian-friendly attempt and last year asked 300 citizens representative according to age and gender what they thought of the plans in a series of workshops. Weisbrich says the results are clear: people wanted fewer cars, more greenery and more water. Now he wants to act quickly and make changes that will have an immediate effect in two to ten days, not two to ten years as is customary in the Eternal Building site this is Berlin. These include the pop-up and temporary bike lanes Play streets seen during the pandemic.
While he expects disagreement and resistance from disgruntled car-loving residents, Weisbrich is confident that he has the public opinion, the power of the Mobility Act and the Pedestrian Act and the blessing of the district mayor at his side. âIt’s not about whether we want changes in urban areas; It is a question of how we can achieve that. “