Volksentscheid Berlin Autofrei (People’s Decision for Auto-Free Berlin), has proposed a plan to limit cars within Berlin's Ringbahn, a long circle route around the inner city, making it the world's largest car-free area once approved. The citizen-initiative is aimed mostly at banning the use of private cars in central Berlin, with the exception of emergency vehicles, garbage trucks, taxis, delivery vehicles, and residents with limited mobility, who would all be given special access permits.
As explained by Volksentscheid Berlin Autofrei, the aim of the campaign is to "ensure that the public streets in Berlin are fairly apportioned, healthy, safe, livable, climate- and environment-friendly". Since government officials have not yet taken prompt action and measures to achieve these qualities, the team approached their goals in a direct democratic manner through a referendum. The framework features the transformation of all streets within the S-Bahn-Ring except federal highways, an area claimed to be larger than Manhattan, into car-reduced streets, limiting them to walking, cycling, and public transport. Users who rely heavily on motor vehicles (for work or mobility reasons), will receive a respective special use permit.
The team began taking action since last April, gathering almost 50,000 petition signatures in support of the campaign. Seeing the amount of citizens invested in the proposal, the Berlin Senate is now considering the idea, and will have a final decision as to whether the law will be adopted or not by next month. If the idea gets rejected by city officials, the group will gather signatures again, aiming to reach 175,000 people, which would then automatically go on the ballots of 2023, and all citizens would have to decide if it should become official.
Related ArticleMilan to Introduce "Super-Cycle" Corridors Across City by 2035
In 2014, Berlin’s Regional Parliament published a report that indicated that 58% of driving space on the roads was dedicated to cars, although only a third of total journeys were made by car, compared to only 3% of road space dedicated to bicycles, which accounted for 15% of journeys.
It’s as much about our immediate environment as it is about the environment at large. It’s about how we all want to live, breathe, and play together. We want people to be able to sleep with their windows open, and children to be able to play in the street again. And grandparents should be able to ride their bicycles safely and have plenty of benches to take a breather on. -- Nina Noblé, one of the founders of Volksentscheid Berlin Autofrei
Earlier this month, the Metropolitan Council of Milan has approved its Biciplan “Cambio” project, a new transportation system that introduces "super-cycle" corridors across the urban fabric, prioritizing cycling, environmental protection, safety, and wellbeing. The project compliments existing cycle paths with 750 kilometers of new corridors that will connect the city's 133 communes with its wider metropolitan area, and increase the amount of bicycle trips and reach by 10% internally and 20% on a greater scale.
Similarly, the city of Paris announced that it will be investing €250 million to upgrade its cycling infrastructure and expand its network of bike lanes with aims of becoming “100% cyclable”. The investment comes through Bike Plan, a 5-year-long urban project that will reinforce the presence of bikes and provide safe and well connected routes for passengers and pedestrians, aiming to make it "one of the most bike-friendly cities in the world by 2026.
News via The Guardian