Oranienstrabe bicycle traffic: traffic island democracy

On-site meeting with the Petitions Committee: The taz was there when they haggled over speed limits and crosswalks on a traffic island.

Partial success? At least a 30 km/h zone could be included in the discussion group Photo: dpa

On-site meeting: Friday at noon, Oranienstrasse. Present: Representatives of the Senate Department for Transport and the Environment, the BVG, the traffic management, the police, the district office of Friedrichshain-Kreuzberg.

They all accepted an invitation from the Petitions Committee. The committee deals with complaints and suggestions from citizens concerning the administration. The petitions can be submitted online, regardless of age, nationality or place of residence. Often, the issue is waiting times for Hartz IV applications. Or about immigration law. Or about city cleaning. The committee has registered almost 1,600 in the last 12 months. Each of them has to be examined by the committee – if necessary by an on-site visit.

Today, the topic is bicycle traffic on Oranienstrasse. The discussion group has gathered on a traffic island. Bernd Steinmeyer, who submitted the petition a good year ago, speaks in welcome. Local residents and businesses then joined forces to demand a 30 km/h speed limit between Skalitzer Strasse and Heinrichplatz. In addition, the gap in the bike path from Moritzplatz should be closed. And crosswalks are to be provided. And bicycle parking spaces. And a one-way street. And and and.

Steinmeyer speaks of a "lawless area" and hopes for an improvement for those in need of protection. Even if no decision is made today on the entire petition, there could be partial successes. A speed 30 sign, for example.

Steinmeyer confronts Regina Riemschneider, a representative of Berlin’s traffic management, with his demand. Yes, theoretically you could set up a 30 km/h speed limit here, she says, but "that won’t reduce accidents," interjects Andreas Moser, who represents Police Section 53. On 30 km/h sections, there are even more accidents because there is more parking.

Bicycle lanes would not work, says Ralf Lehmann-Tag from the Senate Administration. The street is too narrow, the delivery traffic too heavy. So all eyes are back on Steinmeyer. He wants to get his act together: A 30-mph speed limit would be a start, and then negotiations could continue. Riemschneider says she can write the proposal on Monday. The heads turn to the representative of the green space office – that is responsible for the signs. "Can we implement in a timely manner." "When? I want a date!" demands Steinmeyer. "We need a week." Partial success. After all.

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