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Berlin: ‘Bicycle Streets’ Spread in ‘Neukölln’ District

Improving the conditions for pedestrians and bicyclists has been part of the Berlin Senate’s priorities for a while now. Governing Mayor Michael Müller’s left-wing coalition is implementing its traffic concept step by step. It will make things more difficult and expensive for drivers. But cycling is being made great again, with a new ‘Cycling Street’.

At any intersection in Berlin’s Neukölln borough, bicycles are a common sight. In fact, thousands of them move around all over the place and all the time. So far, things are not that easy for those who cherish the greenest means of transportation available. Cyclists need to get around parked vehicles, they are constantly being overtaken by buses and cars, and they are inhaling emissions coming out of their exhaust pipes.

More Rights and Safety

In order to improve the situation for the growing number of bicyclists, Berlin is taking several steps. On some streets, including ‘Hasenheide’ and ‘Karl Marx Strasse’, the municipality installed green bike lanes, which are much wider than conventional ones. Also they are protected with pillars. More of those are coming.

Another step is being implemented: Traffic light circuits in Berlin’s city center are being changed. Cars will have to wait at red lights more, bicycles and pedestrians less.

‘Weigandufer’ is a ‘Bicycle Street’ already. Photo: Imanuel Marcus

In addition, ‘Weigandufer’, a smaller street in Neukölln, was recently converted into a ‘Bicycle Street’. What this means is that cyclists have more rights, and they can rely on more safety.

This is what the rules are in Berlin’s ‘Bicycle Streets’:

  • Bicycles have the right of way.
  • Drivers have to adapt to the bikes’ speed.
  • Bicyclists are allowed to ride next to each other, even when a car is behind them.
  • Only residents of a ‘Bicycle Street’ are allowed to enter it by car.

BicyclistsWorst Enemy

As it turns out, things are working quite well at ‘Weigand Ufer’. That is why the next ‘Bicycle Street’ will be prepared, namely ‘Weserstrasse’. It is a parallel street, located a bit closer to ‘Sonnenallee’.

Cobble stones and bicycles are not compatible. Photo: Imanuel Marcus

Houston, we have a problem: The conversion will be a little more difficult than it might seem. This street does have bike lanes on its sidewalks, but they are old-fashioned, far too narrow and badly damaged by tree roots. Therefore they have to go. Also ‘Weserstrasse’ is a cobble stone street. That kind of surface is any bicyclist’s worst enemy.

What this means is that the cobble stones will be replaced by asphalt, even though the stones look much nicer. And it means there will be a big mess during the construction period. On ‘Weserstrasse’, this affects the stretch between ‘Pannierstraße’ and ‘Thiemannstraße’. Another part of ‘Weserstrasse’ was already converted a while ago.

Next week, the ‘Neukölln’ district authority will inform residents about the details of the construction plans.