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Belit Onay, Lord Mayor of Hanover, wants to fundamentally rebuild the city centre

Photo: Franziska Gilli / DER SPIEGEL

With the promise to enable a car-free city centre within the city ring by 2030, the Green Belit Onay became Lord Mayor of Hanover almost four years ago. After that, the administration surveyed citizens and implemented street experiments. The city council approved Onay's plans.

Now Onay explains how exactly he wants to redesign the center. The plans are also likely to be considered nationwide, as Hanover is setting itself quite far-reaching goals compared to other cities.

According to this, Hanover's center should be "almost car-free" in the future in order to give pedestrians and cyclists more space. Car-free means that there is not one car too many in the city," Onay explained. For this purpose, through traffic should be prevented, but the city center should remain accessible by car.

Public parking spaces in the streets are to be largely eliminated, instead parking is to be done in the multi-storey car parks. According to the plans, residents will continue to reach their private parking spaces, and taxis and vans will also come into the city. Parking facilities for people with disabilities are to be expanded. "For those who are dependent on the car, it will be easier to get into the city in the future because there is less competing car traffic – but overall, the number of parking spaces will gradually be significantly reduced," Onaysaid in a statement. This is also intended to give local transport more space.

Even slower than 30 km/h

Specifically, the city wants to implement the following:

  • Streets in the old town should no longer be passable for general car traffic (see map). The two tunnels at the main station are also to be closed to car traffic and reserved for bicycle and pedestrian traffic (one of the two also for public transport).

  • Where cars and motor vehicles are allowed to continue driving, for example at the entrances to multi-storey car parks, "20 km/h or a maximum of 30 km/h should apply everywhere".

  • Parking spaces in public spaces are to be largely eliminated, which means that "with a few exceptions" there will no longer be roadside parking. Instead, cars should be parked in multi-storey car parks.

  • The city centre is to become "largely free of traffic lights" in order to interrupt footpaths and cycle paths as rarely as possible.

  • Within the city ring, all roads should have only one strip in each direction.

  • More areas are to be designated for bicycle parking, sharing services, on-demand transport and delivery traffic.

  • The city centre and surrounding residential areas are to be better connected, for example by setting up more crossings over the city ring.

In many places, the city had tested traffic-calmed areas in recent years, so-called "experimental spaces". Now Onay said: "The time for experiments is over. Now it's time for implementation.« The city administration wants to implement the concept by 2030, and after a resolution has been passed, the first renovation work is to begin in mid-2024, for example in Schillerstraße, Georgstraße, Prinzenstraße and Joachimstraße.