Traffic turnaround in Bonn City wants to eliminate around 700 parking spaces in favor of bicycle lanes
Bonn · After the summer vacation period, the city plans to get serious: the decision to adopt more bicycle lanes in Bonn will be implemented. This will have serious consequences for residents who live on affected streets.
The concept to create more bicycle lanes in Bonn is more than ten years old. After the summer break, a number of streets are to be converted quickly to include bicycle lanes. According to a proposal by the city administration, around 700 parking spaces are to be eliminated in the city as a result. People are bound to be angered.
There will be particularly large reductions in parking spaces on Rosental Strasse in the northern part of the city (65 fewer parking spaces), in Endenich on Steinweg (45 fewer spaces) and on Kapellenstrasse between Röckumstrasse and Flodelingsweg, where all twelve parking spaces will be eliminated. Hit hard in the southern part of the city is Kurfürstenstrasse (76 fewer spaces) and Königstrasse (40 fewer spaces). But twelve parking spaces are to be added in individual areas such as Karl-Legien-Strasse in Graurheindorf between Kranenweg and Werftstrasse.
"Where are we and our visitors supposed to park?" wonders a resident on Steinweg, who does not wish to be named. In her view, the city of Bonn and the current city council majority are going a step too far: "They should have first made sure that residents have alternatives, for example by building a neighborhood garage." Käthe Jowanowitsch from Endenich also reacted angrily when she heard about the plans. Her nearly 90-year-old mother lives on Steinweg, she said. She often has to drive her mother from there to the doctor or do shopping for her, she said. "When I pick up my mother, I need to be able to park nearby. By the time she's ready, that always takes quite a while." She doesn’t know how that will still be able to work if parking is no longer allowed there. "I wonder who makes suggestions like that.”
Jowanowitsch is convinced that this is a way for politicians to turn people against what are actually good approaches to a traffic transformation. Hubert Stentenbach has rented a parking space in a nearby underground garage, so he is not directly affected, as he says. Still, he finds that getting rid of the parking spaces on Steinweg is "nonsensical". Since he also travels a lot by bike, he thinks bicycle lanes are basically a good thing, but only where they make sense. "Why don't they convert the street Am Bleichgraben?" he wonders. It runs parallel to Steinweg, is much wider, and has fewer residents and parking areas in front of the Max Planck Institute.
Bonn traffic turnaround: Residents are upset
Residents on Kapellenstrasse are also reacting angrily. According to the city's list, all twelve parking spaces between Röckumstrasse and Flodelingsweg are to be eliminated there as part of the conversion into a bicycle lane. "Who is proposing something like that?" asked Jutta Becker, visibly stunned. She has lived with her family on Kapellenstrasse for years. Most families there only have one car anyway, Becker says. "Where are we supposed to park the cars? And what do the people do who are really dependent on a car because of an impairment?”
Bonn traffic turnaround: Bicycle lanes must be wider
According to the proposed (city council) resolution, the bicycle lanes are to be established "in accordance with the changed framework conditions for expansion and marking, i.e., taking into account the concerns for traffic safety, technical standards that have since changed, and the current resolution situation." In 2021, the city council recognized a decision which had been made in favor of bike lanes and a parking management strategy, adopted in 2022. According to the administration, this means that driving lanes in the newly designated bicycle streets must generally be 4.50 meters wide. Sidewalks should be at least 1.50 meters wide. The proposal also provides for "accompanying public relations work" with pubic information shared in the districts, campaigns for bicycle lanes, and mass mailings to residents shortly before the streets get new markings.
In the original bicycle lane plans, the parking spaces were not touched, according to the administration, which meant that in some cases only a very narrow lane width of three to three and a half meters was accepted next to the parking spaces. According to current thinking, such narrow widths resulted in so-called "dooring accidents" with cyclists being hit by suddenly opened car doors. “In the meantime, the bicycle lane decision specifies that new bicycle lanes in Bonn should be 4.50 meters wide," the administration explained.
The marking of the new bicycle lanes is to start after the summer vacation period. After a long discussion, the Bonn district council postponed the issue at its most recent meeting. "What I find strange is that apparently the creation of bicycle lanes is used to take away parking spaces," criticized Arno Hospes (CDU). At the same time, he said, Steinweg, for example, is a purely residential street. "People will sue against it," predicted Thomas Fahrenholtz (Independent). It was a mistake to not allow the Bonn population to vote on the bike lanes. Fahrenholtz sought a legal opinion to examine this measure because of the "extreme interference in the reality of life" of many residents.
Linke (Left party): Time for motorized individual traffic has run out
"It is not parking spaces that are being eliminated, it is public space where parking takes place," noted Karin Langer (Volt). The time of free parking spaces at the front door is over, she said, but cars still have to be parked somewhere. Langer referred once again to the planned "Parking in the Neighborhood" project. Hanno von Raußendorf (Linke) said that with the backdrop of climate change and dwindling resources, the time for motorized individual transport had expired: "We have to push ahead with the traffic turnaround.”
Hartwig Lohmeyer (Rheingrün) said that he observed an increasing aggressiveness on the roads towards cyclists. He believes that this probably has to do with the poor communication of these plans to the public up to now. Sabrina Lipprandt and Jochen Reeh-Schall (both SPD) still see a need for consultation. "You can't beat the traffic turnaround into people," warned Reeh-Schall. Citizens have to be involved. Rolf Beu (Greens) finds the bicycle lanes "absolutely sensible." In order to create these and also to guarantee the sidewalk width of 1.50 meters, parking spaces have to be eliminated.
The city council is expected to decide on the proposal at its meeting on Thursday, April 27. The public meeting begins at 5 p.m. More info at www.bonn.de.