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Coalition wants to abolish free parking: Parking fees throughout the city

Coalition wants to abolish free parking : Parking fees throughout the city

New ticket automats on Venusberg are just the start. A city council majority wants to do away with free parking in Bonn altogether, with residents having the option to get a resident parking permit.

In March of 2019, the city council made a decision about how to manage the parking spaces on Venusberg around the University Hospital. They wanted to put an end to over-parked streets and people driving around in search of a parking spot. What they have implemented there can be seen as a precursor to a citywide rollout, which the new council coalition wants to phase in gradually.

According to the city, 15 new ticket automats will go into operation at the University Hospital this Friday. Those who park their car will be able to choose between a day-rate ticket for six euros or pay 60 cents per half hour with a maximum parking time of two hours. Residents can apply for resident parking permits. Kristina Buchmiller from the Bonn press office said, "There are 108 applications for resident parking permits that will be decided on immediately." The cost of the ticket automats and signage was about 85,000 euros. Barbara Dreyman from the Venusberg residents' initiative hopes that the change will have a positive effect: "I'm glad that a parking system is coming now and that something is finally happening on the Venusberg.”

At the end of last year, the city introduced parking with residents' permits only - on about half of the public parking spaces in the Weststadt between Endenicher Straße and Endenicher Allee and between the 565 autobahn and Wittelsbacherring. Also being considered is a parking concept for the northern part of the city, which weighs in on parking during nighttime hours and frees up the street during the day for pedestrians in the Old Town. The Bonn district council decided in May of 2020 that this would be presented to the citizens of Bonn in an information session.

The new majority coalition of the Greens, SPD, Left Party and Volt wants to continue along this path and "gradually introduce an overall parking management system in the city of Bonn," as can be read in their coalition agreement presented at the beginning of the week. It goes on to say, "We will stagger parking fees and the price of residents' parking permits according to vehicle size, as far as the legal possibilities allow in the future." Citizens are to be involved in these deliberations.

Coalition members said that no timetable for implementation has been set yet. Tim Achtermeyer (Greens) explained, "It's not about taking something away from motorists unnecessarily, but about creating more livable neighborhoods. Cities like Maastricht are already much further along in this endeavor." Gabi Mayer (SPD) emphasized, "We will focus our attention on ensuring that those who rely on cars can still get to the stores and that parking spaces are available for the disabled." The initial focus will be "on neighborhoods where parking demand is particularly high," said Holger Schmidt (Left party). He believes that the idea of neighborhood garages, which the coalition envisages, will take at least a few years to implement, especially since the administration would first have to find suitable locations.

Neighborhood garages (“Quartiers-Garagen”) are parking garages shared by all residents in a localized area. While they offer parking spaces for residents, users have to put up with longer walking distances to their cars. This is already being tried out in the city of Freiburg. With this move, the coalition also aims to eliminate through traffic within residential neighborhoods, and to reduce the number of parking spaces in new construction projects in city centers. In return, there should be an expansion of eco-mobility and car-sharing. The coalition agreement states, "We will reduce the number of street parking spaces more than we can provide new spaces through public neighborhood garages." The bottom line is that cars registered in Bonn will not be able to find enough regular parking spaces, at least within the city. According to the press office, 185,784 vehicles were registered in Bonn as of Dec. 31, 2020. This figure is adjusted for Deutsche Post AG and Telekom, which register their Germany-wide fleet at their corporate headquarters.

The opposition criticized the concept laid out by the coalition. Commenting on the plans for a car-free city center by 2025 between Reuterstrasse and Kaiser-Karl-Ring, restrictions on parking spaces and accessibility to smaller town centers, the CDU questioned how the concept was supposed to go hand in hand with economic development. It warned of "a decline of the city center and the local areas, because many customers will then switch to more conveniently accessible (shopping) areas in the surrounding area of Bonn or order online." Franziska Müller-Rech, head of the FDP party in Bonn called it "ideological politics without any sense or reason!”

Parking fees for the city treasury

The overall parking system is also intended to increase the revenues of the city treasury. It is not yet possible to say exactly how much money can be expected. According to Gabi Mayer (SPD), the revenue from the fees should be made available for improvements in traffic and mobility, where the coalition wants to invest more. The coalition has not given a timeline for the parking system overhaul.

(Orig. text: Philipp Königs; Translation: ck)