Many fender benders Snow causes chaos on the roads in Bonn and the surrounding region.
Bonn/Region · Snowfall in Bonn and the surrounding region led to chaos on the roads on Wednesday. The warning for icy roads will remain in effect until Thursday.
Wednesday morning's snowfall in Bonn and the surrounding region meant that people in Bonn were able to get their sleds out of storage again for some serious tobogganing after a long absence. Together they ventured on a ride over the slopes of the Rheinaue on the left bank of the Rhine.
Snow chaos in Bonn
According to the cliché, as soon as the first snowflake falls in Bonn, traffic comes to a standstill. It wasn’t quite that bad yesterday. Still, the Bonn police recorded a significant increase in traffic accidents. As an example, police spokesman Michael Beyer reported a car driver who skidded into a parked mobile home on Konstantinstraße in Rüngsdorf; then there was a car that crashed into a fence in Dottendorf (In der Raste); in the afternoon, a cyclist took a tumble on Lennéstraße near the Hofgarten. It's not yet known how badly injured they were.
"In most cases, we’re talking about fender benders," said Beyer, who at the same time warned that motorists should have long since switched from summer to all-season or, better still, winter tyres. It is also important to drive at a speed suitable for the weather conditions. When asked, the city authorities said that the fire brigade, the rescue service and the public order service had "not had any special weather-related call-outs" by the afternoon, according to Lea Hoffmann from the press office.
Statutes for street cleaning: For Bonnorange, the municipal company responsible for winter services on roadways, their spokesperson Jérôme Lefèvre elaborated: "We have been in action since 4am with preventive operations and since the beginning of the snowfall we have been managing winter services on Bonn's roads with five large gritting vehicles, three small sweepers converted for winter services and nine columns gritting by hand."
The snow service from the building and facilities management of Stadtwerke Bus und Bahn (SWB) moved out to clear the bus stops owned by SWB of snow and ice. "So far there have been no problems with bus or train services," said SWB spokesperson Clarissa Pütz.
While the Stadtwerke are responsible for winter services at their own bus stops, residents also must remove snow from bus stops on pavements if they are on their doorstep. At least this is how Bonnorange interprets the current street cleaning statutes, which include winter service. However, as it is not formulated precisely enough from a legal point of view, it is possible that Bonnorange would have to assume liability in the event of accidents. For this reason, the company wants to formulate the bylaws more precisely. But on Monday evening, the city council decided to first debate the planned amendment of the bylaws and its consequences in the expert committees.
In the council meeting, the Bürger Bund Bonn (BBB) had requested that Bonnorange should in future be responsible for cleaning bus stops as well as for the winter service to be carried out there on days with snow and black ice. "People with a public transport stop outside their home already bear a heavier burden all year round compared to others because of increased noise and littering of the footpath in front of their front door. We think it is unfair to impose this burden on the general public in the form of an obligation to clear the roads when it is icy," said Marcel Schmitt, leader of the BBB parliamentary group, explaining the motion, which did not find a majority in the plenary session.
This onset of winter was really something: First there were a few delicate flakes, then it really got going in the Siebengebirge. In some places, there was a blanket of snow. But what looks like a winter fairy tale in the landscape can cause traffic chaos, like it did on Wednesday morning.
While the municipal building yards were constantly on winter maintenance duty from early in the morning, there was still no sign of this on state roads such as the L 331, Margarethenhöhe, motorists criticised. The police in the Neuwied and Altenkirchen districts, among others, reported that accidents were mostly minor.
In response to a GA enquiry, the NRW agency responsible for the state roads said that they were not aware of any bottlenecks in the clearing and gritting service on this day. All the roads in the area of responsibility of the Lohmar road maintenance depot, including the Siebengebirge, were " cleared to the best of our knowledge and belief, as always," said Rainer Herzog, press spokesman for the NRW state road maintenance depot.
State roads as smooth as glass
However, with such a severe onset of winter, the colleagues were asked to work in many places at the same time "and you have to start somewhere". Finally, in the afternoon, the road maintenance department reported: "The roads are now clear again." The employees of the building yard in Bad Honnef also had their hands full. The crews were out in full force with six vehicles as well as additional so-called hand crews. The municipal building yards are only responsible for the municipal roads.
As always, the commuter routes between the mountain and the valley, i.e. the Landesstraße 331/Margarethenhöhe and the Landesstraße 144/Schmelztalstraße, were particularly affected by icy roads and obstructions. "On the L 331 nothing works at all, a bus is already parked across the road, and it is as smooth as glass," reported a colleague who had to break off his journey to an appointment in the valley at noon, while thick flakes were still falling from the sky. Nevertheless, many motorists dared to drive uphill or downhill at a crawling pace. Not all of them managed to do so without sliding around, which further slowed down or brought the following traffic to a standstill. One driver, who was driving with summer tyres, incurred the displeasure of other road users.
Schulstraße is closed: In other places, too, such as on the L 86 between Ittenbach and Thomasberg, cars ended up off the road. Fortunately, no one was injured there. Especially in the higher towns, such as Königswinter-Ittenbach and Bad Honnef-Aegidienberg, drivers also had to deal with icy conditions and obstructions on local roads. In Königswinter-Eudenbach, Schulstraße was completely closed because several cars had drifted off the road. At the same time, the road was so icy that safe manoeuvring was simply not possible. On the Kantering in Ittenbach a truck transporter with a toilet stall blocked the road.
Naturally, the weather also had a considerable impact on public traffic. In many places that had not yet been cleared or gritted, the bus drivers of the Rhein-Sieg Verkehrsgesellschaft (RSVG) could no longer get through. Broken-down vehicles were often in the way. School transport was also severely restricted. "Caution comes first. Of course, the drivers have that in mind especially when they have 50 or 60 children in the back," said Frank Wiedemann, RSVG operations manager. And: "Margarethenhöhe is such a classic, but colleagues also report problems from places like Thomasberg or Wülscheid."
Buses can't get through
None of the routes were discontinued, "because it is always possible to drive in segments. Our colleagues try to find detours so that the regular service can be maintained," Wiedemann continues. The pupils and staff at the Oberpleis school centre, among others, discovered that this was not always possible. The pupils had previously been informed that they were "snow-free" from the sixth lesson onwards, meaning that they could go home. Since not all buses were able to run at that time, there were crowds at the bus stop at the school complex. For once, pupils were allowed to pick up their phones during lessons and call their parents - a parent's taxi was then often the means of choice to get home, if the trip could be made by private car.
Wolf forum cancelled: The organisers of the forum on "The wolf and the special situation in the municipality of Asbach" played it safe: The meeting in the VG town hall was cancelled in the afternoon due to the weather, as a safe journey for speakers, for example from Mainz or the Bonn area, was not possible. And the winter is expected to stay a little longer: Meteorologists are also predicting cold and precipitation for the coming days. So the winter services are certainly going to have their hands full.
Original text: Christine Bähr
Translation: Jean Lennox