Action group proposes car limitations on the entirety of Berlin city centre enclosed within the RingBahn train line.
Having been conceptualised in 2019 by three friends, the Volksentscheid Berlin Autofrei’s (People’s Decision for Auto-Free Berlin) radical proposal to transform Berlin city centre into a car-free zone is now under consideration by Berlin Senate, having reached 50,000 supporting signatures. The governing body will reach a decision by February, in a similar process to the 2016 law changes that improved cycling across Berlin.
Of course, car-free does not equate to a complete ban, but rather a significant reduction in the prevalence of private car use – emergency vehicles, garbage trucks, and other service vehicles would still function as normal. Campaigners highlight the benefits not only to the wider environment but the local one experienced by Berlin residents on a daily basis. By removing private car usage from the city, communities can ‘take back’ the Berlin streets as functional and versatile public spaces, improving both the health and safety of commuters.
With traffic already limited in some Berlin neighbourhoods, or ‘Kiezblocks’, the proposal would massively accelerate the shift in Berlin’s urban environment, again highlighted by campaigners as a crucial step to take in light of the ongoing climate crisis. If rejected by the city, organisers will continue to collect signatures of support until the issue can go to ballot – with 175,000 required backers.