Action on foot, by bike and by public transport Hundreds demonstrate in Bonn for the traffic turnaround

Bonn · Many people demonstrated in Bonn on Sunday afternoon for climate protection and a change in transport policy. On foot, on bicycles or even in buses and trains, they drew attention to themselves.

 There was a demonstration in Bonn for a traffic turnaround (Verkehrswende), among other things, by bicycle.

There was a demonstration in Bonn for a traffic turnaround (Verkehrswende), among other things, by bicycle.

Foto: Stefan Knopp

"Send incompetent planners to DK + NL for an internship" was the demand written on a T-shirt by a participant of the transport turnaround demonstration. "There are definitely better countries than Germany for cycling," he said. The Netherlands and Denmark are often cited as model countries. But Switzerland is also way ahead, commented another. They met with many other demonstrators on Sunday afternoon on the Hofgartenwiese to demand a quick rethink in terms of non-motorised mobility and climate protection.

Not only people from Bonn turned up, but also from the surrounding municipalities. Bicycle groups from Bad Honnef, Wachtberg, Bornheim and other towns had cycled to Bonn in the style of a rally. On paths that, in the view of Andreas Krüger from Troisdorf, are in need of improvement. He had joined a group in Mondorf with his velomobile, a three-wheeled recumbent bike that looks like a rocket.

"I'm mainly interested in more direct connections for cyclists between cities that you can use without danger," he said. For example, between Siegburg and Bonn. "If it’s ten kilometres by car and 14 by bike, then something can't be right."

Demo on foot, by bike and by bus and train

Not all demonstrators had come by bicycle. A small group had relied on public transport. Another group marched on foot behind a rally van. The demands: Pedestrians and cyclists should be given more space in road traffic and public transport should be made more attractive to encourage people to switch from cars to other means of transport.

This was also important to a father who rode with his two sons with the largest group, the cyclists. He was worried that something could happen to his children on the way to school, for example because drivers would carelessly turn right. He himself cycles to work and therefore knows what the situation is like on many cycle paths in Bonn. His demand to the city: "It should make cycling safer".

In general, it is necessary to create alternatives to the car in order to achieve a change in transport policy. "You also have to start with public transport," he says. The environmental lanes leave motorists with only one lane on Oxfordstraße and Hermann-Wandersleb-Ring. Of course there are going to be traffic jams, and, according to the participant, these are "necessary to achieve the traffic turnaround".

A couple with their almost two-year-old son, who took part in the demo in a bicycle trailer, also think this is necessary. "This will not happen without conflicts," said the man. He cycles to work every day, even in winter and when it’s raining, he said. "We try to do without the car as much as we can." But he is also bothered by the right-turners. "If I didn't watch out for them every time, I'd get mowed down every three weeks." His wife would like to see more wide cycle paths. Bonn has some catching up to do when it comes to cycling, she said. "I lived in Münster for two years, compared to this, there is room for improvement here."

Protest against the planned Rheinspange

A group had also come from Bornheim and had got themselves white life jackets especially for the occasion. The participants, who received support from Wesseling, had gathered at Peter-Fryns-Platz and travelled to Bonn city centre. On the way, they were joined by cyclists from Alfter, including the two mayors Christoph Becker from Bornheim and Rolf Schumacher from Alfter.

For this group, the protest against the planned Rheinspange 553 was in the foreground. Their concern was that more motorways would lead to more car drivers. Instead, the bicycle routes should be made safer, which in some places, for example, simply break off or lead across motor roads, said spokesperson Angela Austermann. "Everyone that wants to get to Bonn from the surrounding area chooses to drive," she criticised. That has to change, she said.

The mayors supported this. Both municipalities have pushed through the cycle commuter route to Bonn and also have public transport in mind. "But it won't happen overnight," said Schumacher. Bornheim has hired its own cycle path and climate protection manager and is working on an integrated mobility and economic road concept. The Rheinspange "must be part of the mobility turnaround", said Becker.

Friederike Dietsch (Greens) from Bonn's transport committee said that municipalities must be given more leeway when it comes to the traffic turnaround. She defended the environmental lanes: "We have to see that there is room for all road users. Public transport would become more reliable as a result. However, she admitted that bus travel in Bonn was very expensive.

The organiser, the alliance "Verkehrswende Jetzt", drew a positive conclusion late in the afternoon. 700 demonstrators of all ages had taken part. The Bonn police control centre confirmed the number. Everything "went off without problems and without a hitch", said the police officer. (Original article: Stefan Knopp / Translation: Jean Lennox)

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