Enlarge image

Landwehr Canal on Hallesches Ufer in Berlin

Photo: Charles Yunck / IMAGO

A promenade was to be built on the Hallesches Ufer in Berlin, a park, exemplary for pedestrian- and bicycle-friendly use. But now the Berlin Senate is stopping the project, despite a promise of millions in funding from federal funds. The chances of success of the project are low, according to a letter from the Senate Administration to the Friedrichshain-Kreuzberg district office, which SPIEGEL has obtained – and also holds the federal government responsible for it. It was first reported by the Tagesspiegel .

In it, State Secretary for Transport Claudia Elif Stutz (CDU) points out that a federal highway (B96) runs across the Hallesche Ufer. According to federal law, federal trunk roads must form a coherent network. In addition, the road is essential for public transport as well as for heavy and large vans, according to the office of Transport Senator Manja Schreiner (CDU).

Comprehensive investigations are necessary for a redesign of the riverbank. Among other things, "in view of the very complex procedure of the necessary relocation of a federal highway", the chances of success are "low". In the light of the expected high level of personnel and resource commitment, I ask for your understanding that I will not initiate this procedure and ask that the project for the redesign of Hallesches Ufer not be pursued any further," the letter reads.

The district of Friedrichshain-Kreuzberg is dominated by the Greens. As part of the National Urban Development Projects, the project received a commitment for funding of 2.95 million euros in April. "Half a year later, the Senate Department for Climate Protection and the Environment, of all people, is now stopping this project for climate-friendly transformation in the city center, thus ensuring that subsidies threaten to expire," said district mayor Clara Herrmann (Greens), according to a statement.

Metropolises around the world have recognized the signs of the times and, in view of the climate crisis, are rebuilding cities to make them climate-resilient. "The black-red Senate is ideologically pursuing the car policy of the last century and thus preventing a green oasis on the Landwehr Canal," criticizes Herrmann.

The capital's transport policy has recently caused a stir again and again. After the new elections in February, a grand coalition of CDU and SPD replaced the previous red-red-green Senate – and initially stopped already planned cycle path projects in order to examine them. This should affect, for example, planned cycle paths, for which a certain number of car parking spaces would have to be eliminated. Mayor Kai Wegner (CDU) had said in SPIEGEL that this was not a stop, but a matter of examination and prioritization. "What I don't want are cycle paths that deliberately slow down cars." You can read the full interview here.

Most of the cycle path projects eventually passed the test – but it seems questionable whether they can be completed in time. Here, too, promised subsidies could expire.

Friedrichstraße, however, became a symbol of the bicycle-car conflict: After the road was initially closed to car traffic, this was withdrawn by the court after a lawsuit. Since then, cars have been driving through the streets again.