"The private car is losing significance dramatically," was recently a headline in the German magazine "Der Spiegel". Yet, Germany is setting records in car density. The trend here is towards a third car. So, which way is the pendulum swinging now? Our columnist Markus Sekulla has ventured to provide an assessment for Düsseldorf.
Cars in city centers have always been bs*ad. They are noisy, pollute the air, and searching for parking in Düsseldorf-Flingern is a no-fail recipe for unhappiness. I've been thinking all of this for much longer than the discussion about climate change has been in the public debate, and to my delight, I'm reading more and more articles that clearly document the mobility shift in Germany's urban centers.
Especially in Berlin, the numbers are drastic. On weekdays, car traffic is on average 15% lower than before the pandemic. In Hamburg, it's around 7%, and in Munich, it's 5%. The reasons for this decline are diverse. After all, many modes of transportation lead to Rome. So, an old saying could be reformulated. Besides, seems like even the Emperor enjoys his days at the home-office these days. Joking aside, in the Spiegel article, reasons such as home office, the Germany Ticket, and possibly the weak economy are identified. The main reason for the continued increase in car registrations is seen as delivery delays during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Of course, we Düsseldorf residents need to get from A to B as well. Most people consider our city to have excellent public transport but be a bicycle dwarf. Over the past decades, Düsseldorf has done a lot for cars. That's changing massively at the moment. You could almost say it's changing with open eyes.
If you walk through my city, for example, you see more and more sharing stations - not for cars, but for rental bikes, e-scooters and e-scooters. There are still some car sharing providers, but in the end the winners are two old acquaintances: public transport and bicycles.
If I had a wish for Düsseldorf and the new mobility, how wonderful would a Königsallee without cars be? Cafés, playgrounds, a bicycle highway ... what a dream that would be, right?
Text: Markus Sekulla