Bonn Anyone heading to downtown Bonn by car will once again have to bring along a lot of patience. Among the reasons are construction sites, the flood disaster and the end of the vacations. However, some frequent drivers also see systematic errors.
A positive effect of Corona? If there ever was a positive effect, perhaps at least on Bonn's roads: the pandemic reduced traffic volumes in the federal city by a whopping 28 percent in 2020 compared to 2019. Apart from Bremen (minus 30 percent), no other major German city has experienced such a decline - with the corresponding economic consequences.
The navigation system manufacturer TomTom compared the figures. Many of the total of 61 days with little traffic - also a comparatively high value - are to be found in the TomTom traffic index in the months of March and April 2020, thus coinciding exactly with the first and particularly strict lockdown. In the list of "Germany's congestion capitals", Bonn thus lost four places and dropped to eleventh place. And this despite the fact that drivers still had to put up with one-fifth longer travel times due to congestion.
24 traffic jams on Friday morning alone
So much for the look back. Now with the end of the vacation time, it seems, the Bonn tradition of waiting in traffic jams is experiencing a new heyday. For example, TomTom measured 24 traffic jams totaling 22 kilometers on Friday morning at around 9:30. Drivers needed 24 percent more time than the average.
One of several causes: the numerous construction sites, of which the city lists two dozen on its current overview in the city district of Bonn alone. These include prominent and unpopular examples such as the construction of the new Viktoria Bridge and the canal construction site on Reuterstrasse, but also many smaller measures that create bottlenecks. In addition to the end of the vacations, there are the effects of the flood disaster. Particularly affected by the closure of part of the A 61 are the freeways on Bonn city territory - and with them all the supposedly slow lanes such as the B 56, the residential areas in the north of Bonn or the street An der Josefshöhe.
The cars are parked in the Kölnstraße partly up to the Wilhelmsplatz
But it's not just construction sites, rush-hour traffic and force majeure that aggravate the situation, but also systemic errors. At least Asghar Kazem, who has been looking at Bonn through the eyes of a cab driver every day since 1990, is convinced of this. "Many things could be done differently," he says, citing as an example the traffic light system for left-turners heading from Kölnstraße to Suttnerplatz. Because the pedestrian lights have the same green phase, only a few cars ever get through the intersection. The result: a traffic jam on Kölnstraße as far as Stiftsplatz, and sometimes as far as Wilhelmsplatz.
"On the Kennedy Bridge, the once two-lane roadway has been narrowed in the direction of Bonn. Anyone who wants to turn right at the Hilton, letting cyclists pass, also creates congestion," Kazem said. He also doesn't understand why the city didn't build a traffic circle long ago at the T-intersection of Römerstrasse, which also creates congestion, with Augustusring. "It would really be worthwhile there; the many other traffic circles, especially in the north of Bonn, have proven themselves invaluable," says the 60-year-old, who once studied traffic engineering himself in Cologne.
A Bonn driving instructor makes similar observations. The fact that, for example, there are long traffic jams on the B 9 in the direction of the city center every day from the afternoon is no wonder to him in view of the rejuvenation of the road in front of the Koblenzer Tor, the left turn at Suttnerplatz and the bicycle lane on Sandkaule. "When the delivery services make their tour in the residential areas such as Nordstadt or Südstadt and drive there virtually from house to house, there is also gridlock there," says the 39-year-old. "Not to mention the actions of 'Extinction Rebellion' or 'Critical Mass’."
Frequent drivers view the closure of Rheinuferstraße with concern
Already, both the cab driver and the driving instructor are looking with some concern at the already decided closure of Rheinuferstraße to car traffic - even if its implementation has now been postponed for another six months because of the upcoming renovation of Koblenzer Tor. "When this bypass is gone, people will notice," they are sure. However, according to the driving instructor, some things have improved in Bonn recently: The area behind the old cemetery, for example, he finds well and clearly designed, also sufficiently takes into account the concerns of cyclists. "They've also done a good job with the entire freeway ramp at the Platz der Vereinten Nationen and the new feeder road at the Ramersdorf interchange heading north," says the 39-year-old. Either way, many of the roads mentioned will continue to light up bright red on the city of Bonn's traffic situation website.
A continuous observation of the traffic situation by the city in the sense of a regulating "traffic center" will not take place, by the way, according to a spokesman. Rather, the administration itself uses the data "to verify reports of disruptions, for example, or to evaluate changes to traffic lights or the consequences of restrictions caused by road works," the spokesman said. (Original text: Rüdiger Franz / Translation: Mareike Graepel)