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15 to 30 euro fines: Parkers on cycle lanes in Bonn accept fines

15 to 30 euro fines : Parkers on cycle lanes in Bonn accept fines

Parking on cycle lanes continues to cause problems in Bonn. The new catalogue of fines, which had promised an improvement to the situation, has been withdrawn.

The unequal relationship between cyclists and motorists in the city can be seen not only in the widths of their vehicles, but above all in the areas allocated to them. Cyclists often feel “pushed to the edge” - not only in the proverbial sense. Parked cars - such as those used by delivery services - make it often impossible for cyclists to use the side of the road. In future, the regulatory authorities want to hand out more severe punishments for this misconduct; however, they still lack a legally binding basis to do so.

Current legislation allows drivers to stop for up to three minutes on the protective strip (the area marked by a dotted line – see box below). If a driver stops for longer or leaves the vehicle, he or she can expect a 15 to 30 euro fine. "The fine is far too low to have an educational effect," says Michael Beyer from the press office of the Bonn police. He refers to the amendment to the catalogue of fines, which has been withdrawn due to a formal error. During the short period of its validity, however, some people had already been fined 55 euros for double parking. 70 euros had to be paid by anyone obstructing a road user (including cyclists) with their parked vehicle. There was also a further charge of ten euros if the parked car posed a danger. Provided the amendment goes back into force, the increased fines may have an effect. However, whether they will really change anything is another question.

"Where am I supposed to park?" is the rhetorical question posed by a truck driver of a haulage company who does not want to be named. His delivery, which he has just unloaded using a lifting platform set up on the protective strip, weighs 270 kilos. "I have to make sure that I keep to my schedule," he says. He cannot park 500 metres away and "walk through the city" with a lifting truck. Then he also reveals that his boss will pay any parking tickets he may be given for "parking on duty". When asked whether he was aware that his behaviour was severely endangering cyclists, the 62-year-old truck driver laughs: "Cyclists are just as much responsible for their safety as we are. They have to slow down or get off their bike.

Tobias Mandt, member of the Critical Mass Initiative (CM), reacts to such statements with understanding: "Delivery vehicles often have no choice but to block something. There are too few delivery zones and the drivers are pressed for time. In addition, the stopping time is limited. I understand this to some extent, after all, we all want to get our packages and have goods in the shops." CM and the District Association of the General German Bicycle Club (Allgemeinen Deutschen Fahrradclub, ADFC) agree that the problem is mainly due to the fact that Bonn and many other municipalities do not take the issue of illegal parking on cycle lanes and footpaths seriously at all.

Werner Böttcher, the ADFC member responsible for Bonn's transport policy, calculates that in 2018, 27 traffic wardens in the city would have issued a total of 538 fines for illegal parking on cycle paths, which would correspond to an average of one and a half fines per day. At the same time, according to Böttcher, the traffic wardens issued more than 40,000 fines per year for exceeding parking times or parking without a parking ticket. For its part, the city's public order office, in response to a request from the General-Anzeiger, reported a figure of 153,327 fines in 2018 and 158,321 in 2019 for parking violations. For cycle lobbyist Werner Böttcher, this is no reason to sound the all-clear. He says: “The city of Bonn issues fines where it can earn a lot of money quickly and easily, instead of where the safety of its citizens is endangered.” The situation is not much different in the municipalities of the Rhein-Sieg district, he says.

(Original text: Stefan Hermes, Translation: Caroline Kusch)