Berlin introduces ‘pedestrian law’

11th February 2021 Christopher Carey

Berlin has introduced a law elevating the status of pedestrians and making its mobility ecosystem more usable for wheelchair users and the visually impaired.

The so-called ‘pedestrian law’– an amendment of the city’s 2018 Mobility Act – was passed by the state parliament at the end of January and is the first time a German city has put pedestrian travel on a legislative footing.

The new legislation requires each of Berlin’s 12 districts to develop a relevant pilot project within three years.

“[This] law further pushes the city’s transformation from car-first to pedestrian-first, to improve the quality of life for all Berliners,” Harald Moritz, Berlin Greens Parliamentary Transportation spokesperson, said in a statement.

Measures included in the amendment include: longer green lights for pedestrians; safer school routes for children; more pedestrian crossings and benches; lowering kerbs to make them more wheelchair accessible; and a crack down on illegal parking and dangerous driving.

Construction sites will also need to ensure that pedestrians and cyclists can safely navigate around them, and cyclists will face stricter enforcement for riding and parking on pavements.

Berlin Mobility Act

In July 2018 Berlin’s Senate Department for the Environment, Transport and Climate Protection passed a law to provide safer and more climate-friendly transport within the city. The Berlin Mobility Act was aimed at improving cyclist welfare by redesigning dangerous junctions, expanding spending on cycling infrastructure and parking facilities, and creating safe bicycle lanes along all main roads.

The law was primarily introduced to reduce the number of deaths or serious injuries from traffic accidents — in 2020, almost 75 percent of the 50 traffic fatalities recorded in Berlin were pedestrians or cyclists.

According to the European Transport Safety Council fatalities from motor vehicle accidents across the European Union fell by almost 25 percent between 2010 and 2018, with pedestrian fatalities falling by 19 percent – but Germany was below the EU average in year-on-year reduction in pedestrian fatalities.

Image: alex.ch (Flickr)

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