Berlin Mobility Act
Berlin plans to become safer, more mobile and more climate-friendly. In a growing metropolis like Berlin, this can only succeed if the strengths of all forms of mobility – i.e. bus, rail, bicycle, car, pedestrian traffic – are taken into consideration. Ecomobility, i.e. pedestrian traffic, bicycles and public transport, has a particular role to play here because all these forms of mobility are very efficient in their use of space. The Berlin Mobility Act will create a basis in law which takes account of all interests. This is without precedent in Germany.
Urban mobility of the future is networked mobility. Of central importance to Berlin’s concept of urban mobility is the goal of ensuring that all people in the city can get to their destination comfortably and reliably and in a way that has as little impact on the environment and the city as possible – and that this should be possible irrespective of the availability of one’s own form of transport or of physical limitations. The Berlin Mobility Act plans to improve the efficiency of the transport system as a whole. It also supports the goal of the Berlin Senate to make car traffic in Berlin climate-neutral by 2050. Moreover, the intention is to reduce the number of road traffic fatalities and seriously injured persons to a minimum (vision zero). Two of the most important measures here are to re-design dangerous junctions and to create safe bicycle lanes along all main roads.
The key elements of the Berlin Mobility Act
The Berlin Mobility Act will consist of several different elements and takes account of all modes of transport. The individual elements will take shape over time. Overall, they will ensure mobility that is future-oriented. The first three elements describe general aims that apply to all modes of transport as well as regulations for public transport and bicycle traffic
In 2020, there will follow elements dealing with pedestrian traffic and New Mobility (carsharing, digitisation and other issues of relevance to the future). It is also planned to introduce more comprehensive regulations for commercial transport – building on the Senate’s integrated commercial transport concept.
The steps involved in achieving the Berlin Mobility Act
In spring 2017, the basis for the Berlin Mobility Act was created in a procedure that was without precedent in Germany. The newly created mobility committee, to which mobility associations, the city’s boroughs, the relevant Senate administration departments and representatives of the parties in the city parliament belong, dealt with the general part of the Mobility Act. In its “cycling law dialogue”, the Senate Department for the Environment, Transport and Climate Protection – in conjunction with Volksentscheid Fahrrad (a civic organisation campaigning for a cycling referendum), the German Cyclists’ Association [Allgemeiner Deutscher Fahrrad-Club – ADFC], Friends of the Earth Germany [Bund für Umwelt und Naturschutz Deutschland – BUND], the parliamentary parties in the coalition and the Senate Chancellery – developed the key features of the “bicycle traffic” element and the first draft of the bill. Following this collaboration and consultation, the bill was approved by parliament and came into force in July 2018.
In March 2018, work started in the mobility committee on jointly developing the section dealing with pedestrian traffic. Since this time, mobility associations chosen by the mobility committee have been working intensively with the parliamentary parties in the coalition in a “pedestrian traffic dialogue” on the key content of the bill and on its first draft. The Berlin Senate passed the draft law at the beginning of 2020 and forwarded it to the House of Representatives (Berliner Abgeordnetenhaus) for discussion and approval.
The Mobility Act ensures that in future the people of Berlin will be able to move around the city more safely, in greater comfort, with greater reliability and without barriers. Moreover, anyone commuting from Brandenburg to Berlin or using public transport to cover large distances within the city will have a greater choice of connecting services because more S-Bahn, tram and regional rail routes are planned as well as fast cycle lanes for commuters. Lower ticket prices and straightforward price structures will also make it easier and more affordable for everyone to switch to clean forms of transport.
One of the key concepts behind the Mobility Act is “vision zero”. This means that in the long term the number of people seriously injured or killed in road traffic accidents should be reduced to a minimum. “Vision zero” is the guiding principle for all the plans and measures that we intend to adopt. For example, over the next three years we will reconfigure 60 hazardous road junctions to make them safer. And there will be many specific improvements for cyclists too. We will create a comprehensive network of cycle lanes along arterial roads in the city. Where there is enough space, we will separate cycle lanes from motorised traffic with the help of bollards. Anyone who feels uneasy about cycling because of bumpy roads or narrow cycle lanes will soon feel much safer and will be happy to start using their bicycle to get around the city.
What is also important is that the Mobility Act creates the foundation for clean and climate-friendly transport in Berlin. This includes the fact that by 2030 it is intended that the buses of the BVG should run on electricity generated from renewable energy sources (solar and wind power) instead of diesel.
All new planning that affects the future mobility of Berlin is already based on the principles enshrined in the Mobility Act. One of the key achievements of the Mobility Act will be that it establishes binding rules for future transport plans, in which aspects like priority networks for cyclists and public transport will be prescribed.
As a rule, infrastructure projects are in the making for a long time. Many projects that are being implemented by the city’s boroughs today were planned years ago. However, projects of key importance will be examined by the senate administration and adapted, as is the case with the re-design of Karl-Marx-Allee.
An independent component on pedestrian traffic will be added to the Mobility Act. In March 2018, a dialogue on pedestrian traffic was initiated together with the urban society, meaning affected and expert associations and institutions. The drafting will take place in the course of the year and is expected to be incorporated into the law in 2019.
Key plans, for example, for bicycle traffic include the development of fast lanes for cyclists, an expansion of the possibilities to safely park bicycles and the implementation of protected cycling lanes.
Aspects of the private use of cars are contained in the forthcoming element about intelligent mobility, which deals, for example, with the question of carsharing or self-drive cars. In the element about commercial transport, business aspects like delivery traffic are taken into account. Furthermore, there are extensive regulations about car traffic in the Highway Code, Berlin’s Road Traffic Act and in the relevant statutory provisions that apply Germany-wide. One of the roles of the new Mobility Act will be to create a new balance between all road users. To achieve this, the existing statutory provisions for car traffic are being added to in the new Mobility Act by the incorporation of the existing Public Transport Act and new provisions for cycling (Step 1) and for pedestrians and intelligent mobility (Step 2).