Bonn · Every day, motorists in Bonn’s city centre have been stuck in traffic jams for a long time ever since parts of the city ring were closed off. Many buses are also caught up in traffic jams. At times, there are chaotic scenes around Kaiserplatz and Hofgarten.
Even a good ten days after parts of the Cityring were cut off, it is clear that the new routing of traffic in Bonn’s city centre has not settled down. On Friday and Saturday, there were some chaotic scenes near Kaiserplatz and Hofgarten. Especially on Friday, traffic almost came to a standstill because Fridays for Future called for another climate strike at noon. This had serious consequences for public transport: according to the SWB, who operate public transport, buses were delayed by up to 70 minutes.
Drivers ignore traffic signs
Another reason for the chaos is that many drivers coming from the south on Adenauerallee (B9) continue to ignore the diversions from Zweite Fährgasse via the Rhine embankment in a northerly direction. As reported, the Koblenzer Tor is closed in this direction, probably until June, due to renovation work. But access to Stockenstraße is still open for residents and drivers who want to get to Markt- or Unigarage, which is clearly indicated by a sign at Adenauerallee.
Many drivers obviously take this as an invitation to continue north through Stockenstraße and the street Am Hof via Wesselstraße and Maximilianstraße past the main railway station. Despite the right turn arrow to the street Am Neutor, they drive through Wesselstraße without being authorised to do so, then have to turn around at Maximilianstraße opposite the main station, which is blocked off with bollards, and try to find their way back in the direction of Kaiserplatz, but then they block the bus lines at Kaiserplatz that want to turn into the central bus station (ZOB). As if this were not chaos enough, many drivers ignore the no through sign at Kaiserplatz in the direction of Kaiserstrasse and Maximilianstrasse and are then forced to turn around in the cul-de-sac in front of the former Hotel Residence.
"Then you don't have to be surprised that nothing works here at the moment," said an SWB employee who was standing in the roadway at the corner of Kaiserplatz and Maximilianstraße on Friday to turn back drivers who wanted to drive through the ZOB. But he can’t prevent them completely. Again and again, cars manage to get across the ZOB to the main station in an unguarded moment, but by doing so they endanger public transport passengers and also incoming buses.
There is a lot of frustration these days, among bus drivers as well as motorists. "I've been driving with considerable delays for days," says a visibly annoyed bus driver who has been waiting for minutes at Kaiserplatz until he finally has access to the ZOB. A car driver reports that it recently took her a good 30 minutes to get from the Uni-Garage exit to the street Am Neutor. Another man in a car with Cologne licence plates who got stuck in the cul-de-sac at Kaiserplatz complains that he is driving in circles for the third time.
City hopes people will adapt
Markus Schmitz from the press office explains: "The city is in close contact with the police because of the new traffic routing on the Cityring, and they can control the flow of traffic and are regularly on site at the ZOB. We will continue to closely monitor how the traffic situation and any unauthorised traffic through the ZOB develops." As with all new traffic routing systems, it will take time for drivers to get used to and observe the new regulations, Schmitz said. He added that he would also look at where there were problems and always check whether the changed traffic regulations could be made clearer at one point or another by changing the signposting. "This is a normal ongoing process with such major changes until the driving behaviour of road users shows that the new rules have become established," says Schmitz.
One thing is certain: the new traffic regulations are having a massive impact on public transport. For this reason, the SWB is now diverting buses via Adenauerallee around Hofgarten to the ZOB as soon as longer traffic jams appear in Rathausgasse or Am Hof. On at least two days last week, there were tailbacks during rush hour, especially between 5 and 7 p.m. "Then the control centre contacted various drivers and told them to take a diversion," explains SWB spokeswoman Stefanie Zießnitz. The Markt bus stop could then not be reached, and passengers were informed by means of the display boards. "SWB does not consult with the city of Bonn about these alternative routes due to high traffic volumes," Zießnitz said.
And what do the police have to say about the current traffic situation in Bonn's city centre? "We can definitely see that the new traffic routing is difficult," says police spokesperson Frank Piontek. The police also know that road users first have to adjust to it. That is why they are observing the development for the time being. Piontek: "But we are keeping our eyes closely on developments."
Andrea Forst-Raasch is vice-chairperson of the Bonn/Rhein-Sieg-Euskirchen retail association and, as the owner of the Hofgarten pharmacy, is herself strongly affected by the new traffic routing on the Cityring: "We have had immense difficulties with the delivery of medicines since the closure." She says she knows of suppliers who have been stuck in their vehicles on Rathausgasse for more than an hour. Some medicines are vitally important, she said, and it was fatal if they were not delivered on time. "We are not talking about butter, eggs or milk here." She said she had spoken to employees of the public order office, who themselves just shook their heads and said that this was not at all possible.
The pharmacist also criticises that the partial closure of the Cityring should have been communicated well to the outside world beforehand and prepared long in advance. "That didn't happen. Communication was catastrophic." She would also have expected that they would at least have waited until the construction site at Koblenzer Tor and the closure of Adenauerallee had been lifted. "Now hardly anyone can get in or out of the city. The whole thing has been done with no rhyme or reason."