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Berlin Takes Part in ‘Car-Free Day’

In the early 1970s, the oil crisis hit. West Germany introduced ‘Car-Free Sundays’ because the world thought the oil was running out. Five decades later, today, Berlin is taking part in a ‘Car-Free Day’. Why?

Sofia/Bulgaria, September 22nd, 2021 (The Berlin Spectator) — Today is the day. On this ‘Car-Free Day’, the city state of Berlin will reportedly have to reimburse its public transport providers BVG and Deutsche Bahn with up to 750,000 Euro (879,161 U.S. Dollars or 643,961 Pounds Sterling) soon, because people will not need tickets today. All rides on Berlin’s trains, trams and buses are free, except for those who already paid for weekly, monthly or annual tickets.

Thirty-Five ‘Play Streets’

As opposed to those ‘Car-Free Sundays’ half a century ago, nobody will be forced to take part in this ‘Car-Free Day’. Driving is still legal, but not in 35 temporary “play streets”. From 3:00 p.m. to 7:00 p.m., Berlin’s children will be allowed to play on parts of the following streets, while motorized traffic is banned:

Charlottenburg-Wilmersdorf
Babelsberger Strasse, no. 9 to 14
Rüdesheimer Strasse, between Wiesbadener- and Laubenheimer Strasse
Sigmaringer Strasse, between Gasteiner- and Wegenerstrasse
Windscheidstrasse, between Stuttgarter Platz and Gerviniusstrasse

Friedrichshain-Kreuzberg
Böckhstrasse ( from 2:00 p.m. to 6:00 p.m.), between Grimm- und Graefestrasse
Kinzigstrasse, between Weser- and Scharnweberstrasse
Simplonstrasse (3:30 p.m. to 6:30 p.m.), between Helmerding- and Matkowskystrasse
Wrangelstrasse, between Oppelner- and Sorauer Strasse

Lichtenberg
Wönnichstrasse, intersection with Münsterlandplatz

Marzahn-Hellersdorf
Maxie-Wander-Strasse, between Carola-Neher-Strasse and Auerbacher Ring
Kastanienallee, in front of Kinderforschungszentrum Hellenum
Friesacker Strasse, between Strauss- und Lortzingstrasse

Mitte
Biesentaler Strasse (4:00 p.m. to 9:00 p.m.), between no. 6a and Wriezener Strasse
Große Hamburger Strasse, between no. 20 and Krausnickstrasse
Plantagenstrasse, between no. 17 and Antonstrasse
Pohlstraße, between no. 75 and Kluckstrasse

Neukölln
Anzengruberstrasse, between Donaustraße and Sonnenallee
Neckarstrasse
Kienitzer Strasse, between Karl-Marx- and Bornsdorfer Strasse
Sanderstrasse, between Hobrecht- and Friedelstrasse

Pankow
Bötzowstrasse, between John-Schehr- and Danziger Strasse
Gneiststrasse, between Greifenhagener Strasse und Schönhauser Allee
Göhrener Strasse
Jacobsohnstrasse, no. 1 to 17
Tassostrasse, between Pistorius- and Charlottenburger Strasse

Reinickendorf
Kamekestrasse, between Herbst- und Hoppestrasse
Tornower Weg, between Birkenwerderstrasse and Dannenwalder Weg

Spandau
Lutherstrasse, at Lutherplatz square

Steglitz-Zehlendorf
Sprungschanzenweg, no 1 to 51

Tempelhof-Schöneberg
Barbarossastrasse, between Goltz- and Karl-Schrader-Strasse
Grimmstrasse (Lichtenrade), between Halker Zeile and Schillerstrasse
Motzstrasse, between Kalckreuther- and Eisenacher Strasse
Niedstrasse, between Lauter- and Handjerystrasse
Steinmetzstrasse, between Bülow- and Alvenslebenstrasse

Treptow-Köpenick
Krüllsstrasse, between Schmollerplatz and Karl-Kunger-Strasse

Quality of Life

Do Berlin’s children need more room to play? Probably not, also because the city has a gazillion parks, some of the nicest playgrounds and other spots where they can play all day long. The thing is that the city state’s Senate, which consists of the center-left Social Democrats, the far-left ‘Die Linke’ and the Greens, wants to show how life feels without motorized vehicles. They might also want to show off their level of political correctness, critics believe.

“This day is supposed to show that more space for greenery, for people and for playing — instead of motorized traffic only — increases the quality of life substantially”, Transport Senator Regine Günther says. Berlin is trying to give cyclists and pedestrians more room and more rights. While only few complain about this approach, there are arguments about how radical measures in this direction should be. A movement called Referendum Car-Free Berlin wants to get rid of 80 percent of all cars inside Berlin’s ‘S-Bahn’ train ring. The Senate is not quite as radical, but especially the Greens are working on decreasing the number of cars in the city center.

Halfhearted Implementation

The overall idea of the modern-day ‘Car Free Day’ has been a failure for years, at least in Germany. Only few counties and cities take part, and most of those who do implement it halfheartedly.

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