Autofrei ‘also helps drivers: inside – klimareporter °

When a “car-free city” is required, nerves are quickly cornered. At the same time, car-friendly cities don’t offer much for a good life and comfortable travel, not even for drivers. Today we have the opportunity to better organize urban transport for everyone.


Street in Berlin: fewer private cars mean more space for bicycles, sharing, cargo bikes and buses. (Photo: Valentin Baciu / Pixabay)

Last year’s “car-free Berlin referendum” drew up a strong vision for the city and also received much acclaim. Implementation ideas can be criticized and deemed in need of improvement, as Bettina Jarasch, Berlin’s green transport senator, did in an interview.

However, the term “car-free” caused much more stir. For some this word associates an almost dreamlike vision of the condition of our roads, for others it raises too many questions or even proves to be a provocation. Anyone who has ever tried to strike up a conversation about this with family members who drive a car knows what is meant.

What is it actually about when a “car-free city” is requested? First, the concept aims at a pragmatic solution for everyone. Some don’t want to be run over and possibly die, others don’t want to look for a parking space and be stuck in traffic jams. Another group is fighting to reduce noise and fine dust pollution.

In the end, though, everyone somehow wants the same thing: a beautiful, lasting (!) And comfortable life in an environment worth living in.

In fact, in recent decades, however, a means of transport has clearly been preferred as an alleged bringer of freedom and convenience. But how comfortable is it to drive, and has it ever been? Maintenance and repairs, vehicle tax, meanwhile rising fuel prices and the huge amount of time invested in traffic jams and finding a parking space – and now this motorist: internal shame is added by the climate talk. This is all extremely annoying.

However, it’s not about getting rid of the car, but about re-adjusting parameters that have been ignored and abused for decades. We must clean our streets together. Because the level of escalation reached in the diffusion of the car is a burden for everyone, including people with cars.

Better to live with the car

First of all, it would be practical to have permanent parking. Mobility devices that stay upright about 90% of the time should have a safe and stable place to park so their owners can relax and save time.

Local garages are a great idea. Especially for urban areas, this is a model that guarantees a lot of space. Car owners should therefore cover similar distances to their means of transport as public transport users at public transport stations.

In terms of costs, it is always underestimated how expensive private ownership of vehicles is and what collective costs are caused by vehicles and their infrastructure, health care and climate damage.

If people also want to give up private ownership of a car, there will still be wonderful opportunities in the future to continue using cars. There is no doubt that sharing and ride pooling offerings need improvement. In principle, however, they offer the opportunity to reduce the number of vehicles and make the subsequent use of cars more convenient by reducing traffic jams.

Photo: Martina Sander-Blanck / WZB

Theresa Pfaff

he is research associate in the research group Digital Mobility and Societal Differentiation at the Berlin Science Center (WZB). In the “Experience Traffic Reversal” project, he deals with how different people can be reached for a traffic reversal through visualization. His contribution also appeared in the WZB blog of the research group on digital mobility.

But what if people depend on the constant availability of a car? For example, people with disabilities or, more precisely, people with disabilities due to lack of accessibility. According to activist Cécile Lecomte, they are often used as a counter-argument for self-reduction.

For these people the car can in fact mean a freedom that is not guaranteed with other forms of mobility due to a policy of exclusion and for profitability reasons. These disadvantages must then be compensated privately by a car.

According to Lecomte, however, this is not a “law of nature” and can be modified by a real policy of inclusion on the part of the railways and even the sharing providers. In the meantime, it would also be more comfortable for these people if others used cars less.

Completely without a car is impossible and unnecessary

Commercial traffic is used as a further counter-argument to massively restrict car traffic. Delivery services and trade depend on the car.

Well, considering that delivery traffic also suffers from traffic jams and parked delivery zones, it would be wise if these user groups were relieved by fewer private cars on the road. At the same time, the logistics sector in particular is very innovative and you can already see many large cargo bikes on the road.

For those who must use the car, there is another nice idea: a speed limit of 30 km / h (and less) everywhere could make driving in densely populated areas less risky. It has been shown that the number and severity of accidents drop dramatically at speeds of 30km / h and that drivers don’t have to live with the fact that someone has been injured by their car or even died forever. But your safety also increases because traffic flow, reaction times and braking times are relaxed when driving together.

Digital mobility: the anti-lock braking system

How will we get from A to B in the future? One thing is certain: it is only radically different from before. But how? The “Digital Mobility – Anti-lock Braking System” group develops ideas for the mobility of tomorrow. Here scientists and experts write about ways for a new transportation system that is smooth, comfortable, fair and climate-friendly, beyond clichés and empty phrases. The dossier is published in collaboration with the Social Science Research Center Berlin (WZB). All contributions appear simultaneously in the WZB blog of the research group on digital mobility.

We will never be completely car free, and that’s a good thing. However, cars must be integrated into an efficient multimodal structure of locomotion and transport logistics and their usability must be maximized, which also helps the Nurse after the night shift.

Cars are a useful part of our mobility. In recent decades “only” something has gotten out of hand or off the handlebars. We can fix it if we understand that it benefits everyone and don’t allow individual terms to sharpen the fronts.

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