Vision of a car-poor city

The Greens in Frankfurt City Hall are striving for a city center with as little individual traffic as possible. They therefore demand speed limits and the waiver of parking spaces and lanes.

Extensive: The Greens want more space for cyclists, like here on Konrad-Adenauer-Straße

Tempo 40 on all main roads, speed 20 on the secondary roads, fewer lanes for cars, but more space for cyclists and pedestrians and new routes for the trams. With this “vision” of drastically reducing through traffic, the Frankfurt Greens want to run for the local elections in March next year. Large parts of the city center – within the system ring and in northern Sachsenhausen – should only be allowed to drive to residents, for delivery and loading or to park in one of the inner city multi-storey car parks. All other parking spaces should be reduced to a minimum and should only be available to residents and suppliers. From the point of view of Wolfgang Siefert, the transport policy spokesman for the Greens in the Römer, all of this is “not a car-hostile, but a philanthropic policy”.

“City on the Main – livable, mobile, climate-friendly” is the title of the position paper published on Tuesday by the Green Group in the city council, which is to become part of the party’s local election program. Siefert admits that the Greens initiative does not claim to be complete and is not a finished, scientifically based traffic concept. “The model is not calculated,” he says. “But it is a vision of how Frankfurt can be made liveable with a system – if the will is there.” In any case, the traffic turnaround won’t make it. Rather, that would require the great success that the Greens are now trying to achieve.

Less noise and emissions

“In five to ten years”, the transport politician believes, a large part of the Greens vision of a low-car city center could become a reality if a majority were to be found in the city council meeting to be elected next year. The easiest and fastest way to get a grip on the excessive car traffic in the city center, from the perspective of the Greens, would be with a city toll, says Siefert; Road tolls as they have been in central London for almost 20 years. In the local election program of the Greens, the more far-reaching demands for a reduction in car traffic would also include gate lights and park-and-ride spaces on the outskirts, bus and environmental lanes, a 365-euro annual ticket for buses and trains as well as Job tickets suggested.

There is no question at all that most of the people living in the city want less noise and emissions, and therefore less car traffic, says Siefert. He points out the almost 40,000 supporter signatures that were collected two years ago by the “Radentscheid” citizens’ initiative. Even the CDU is gradually saying goodbye to its model of a “car-friendly” city. The board spokesman for the Frankfurt Greens, Bastian Bergerhoff, also sees support for motorized private transport dwindling everywhere. Nobody, with the possible exception of the Chamber of Commerce and Industry (IHK), is still attached to the status quo in transport policy. “Everyone wants change.”

Contrary to popular belief, your party has “no pronounced autophobia”, explained Ursula auf der Heide, Sachsenhausen city councilor and environmental policy spokeswoman for the Greens in the Römer. But the quality of life and amenity in the city can only be maintained in the climate crisis if the public space is “comprehensively remodeled, unsealed and greened”. And that, in turn, is only possible if you take space away from the flowing and stationary car traffic.

The Greens believe that a “mobility turnaround” can only be developed from the heart of the city. In this sense, the package of measures presented on Tuesday for the inner city is only a start. The “City on the Main” concept was deliberately designed as a “modular system”; individual modules could be implemented step by step and transferred to other areas of the city, says Siefert. Because, of course, the Greens have also known one thing since the controversy surrounding the trial closure of the northern Main Quay to motor vehicles: Any obstruction to car traffic in the city center has consequences for the flow of traffic in the neighboring districts. In the end, it should not be the car-poor city center but the car-poor city.