The road traffic authorities decide whether road traffic measures are necessary for the control of the road traffic and transport in the interests of safety and regulation. On the basis of the road traffic regulations the authorities decide which traffic regulation orders have to be made. These are road signs and road markings, but also traffic facilities as traffic lights and parking meters.
Primary local point of contact are the road traffic authorities within the borough offices. They decide on the city-wide establishment of
- delivery and loading areas for shops,
- reserved parking spaces for seriously disabled persons,
- parking areas for residents,
- cycling facilities, and the obligation to use bicycle lanes,
- taxi stops and
- the safety of bridges and level crossings.
Furthermore, they basically decide on all traffic measures within the secondary road network.
The Berlin Traffic Control as a central road traffic authority is focusing on city-wide and important regulations, mainly regarding the major road network. In the whole city area it decides on
- the necessity and installation of traffic lights,
- route signing,
- parking guidance systems,
- the creation of bus lanes and stops in accordance with the transport provider (BVG)
- road traffic measures for diplomatic missions and federal authorities (including the required security measures), and
- the marking of regional cycling routes.
- In the major road network the Berlin Traffic Control decides on
- speed limits, one-way streets, right-of-way regulations and ban on turns,
- pedestrian crossings,
- restrictions according to the Federal Pollution Control Act, i. e. measures in order to protect the resident population against traffic-related noise and air pollution by gases, as e. g. the environmental zone and the speed limit of 30 km/h at night.
The road traffic authorities closely cooperate with the police, the road construction and maintenance departments (predominantly the borough offices for civil engineering), the transport provider BVG, the environmental authorities, and – according to the situation – also include the respective interest groups. An informal application can be made at any time.
The purpose of sign-posting is to help the vehicle driver to reach destinations quickly on optimal routes without using further technical aids. It is hierarchically structured and leads from main to secondary destinations. The Traffic Management decides on the complete route signing of Berlin and its planning for the urban roads.
Safety and relief:
The route signing contributes to safety and the improvement of the traffic flow, and helps to reduce spontaneous driving manoeuvres or changes of direction. With the help of sign-posting traffic is directed via efficient roads thus resulting in a distribution of traffic, and protecting residential areas against through traffic.
For that purpose the route signing has to be definite, clear and easy to understand. The indicated destinations have to be generally known. They will continuously be repeated at all decision points until they are reached.
The number of indicated destinations is limited as too many destinations would make the signposts confusing.
The type size depends on the driven speeds. The signposts have to be established and dimensioned in such a way that on the one hand they don’t affect the cityscape too much, and on the other hand ensure the possibility for the vehicle traffic to get into the correct lane in time.
Destinations that can be reached by the motorway are described by a blue base colour. A yellow base colour describes important destinations which cannot be reached via the motorway when using that routing. White signposts lead to intra-local destinations which are of considerable importance for transport as well as to parking spaces and parking garages. Brown-coloured signposts indicate important destinations for tourists.
With the help of pictograms destinations can be more easily identified. The pictogram indicating the centre is already used on the federal motorways A 113 and A 100. It will still take some time until it will be immediately recognised by the car drivers.
Stops and stations
Passengers using public transport modes can reach the bus or railway mainly by foot, whereas user-friendliness is the determining factor for the safe and comfortable reaching of the stopping points. The Berlin Traffic Control is permanently working to improve the position and the area of stops, e. g. by moving the bus and tram stops if necessary, removing obstacles on footways and at stopping points, creating possibilities for crossings and adapting pedestrian lights, by creating additional accesses, and by simplifying the route guidance to the S-Bahn and U-Bahn as well as to the regional trains. This also includes the measures for accessibility and guidance systems for blind people.
Light-signal systems and traffic signal facilities
New light-signal systems have to be ordered by the Berlin Traffic Management whereas the impetus can be given by different parties. In addition to the Traffic Management itself possible locations can be proposed also by stakeholders, initiatives, schools, the borough offices and the Senate Department for the Environment, Urban Mobility, Consumer Protection and Climate Action. The Traffic Management then consults the competent borough office about the possible locations – and if buses and trams are concerned – also the BVG. After the decision is made the new traffic light will be included in the construction programme by the Traffic Management – according to its priority and the availability of budgetary resources.
The traffic control also is responsible for the operation of traffic lights. Particularly the green signal phases of traffic lights are continuously a matter for public discussions. Have you ever wondered why a small secondary road has such a long green signal phase although there are hardly any vehicles? Green signal phases for secondary roads which seem to be too long are often a side effect. The broader the major roads the longer the time that has to be allocated to pedestrians to cross the street. This has some benefit for the car drivers in the secondary roads as the traffic on the major road has to wait anyway.
Similarly, there’s often the feeling that the green signal phases on big roads are too short. Every pedestrian who starts moving with an average walking speed when the traffic light turns green, should be able to safely cross the street. This is ensured by a “time buffer” after the traffic light has turned red, i. e. an extension of the green phase until pedestrians have crossed the road. There will not be a green phase for the motor vehicle traffic until this extension time is over. As this extension of the green phase is very long on wide roads, the actual green phase has to be shorter. For that reason people with impaired mobility and elderly people possibly should wait for the beginning of the green phase. So they can take advantage of the maximum of time for crossing.
Special bus lanes
Special bus lanes play an important role in our planning for the strengthening of public mass passenger transport. They contribute to the acceleration of bus traffic and offer important services, for instance on the Kurfürstendamm, in order to promote the attractiveness of buses compared to cars.