Coronavirus

Enabling more distance: inner cities could change

The limited space in the city has been the subject of controversy for several years.

The situation worsens in the corona pandemic because distance rules must be observed.

A Berlin district now wants to block streets and parking lots for cars in order to provide more space for restaurants and shops.

There has been fierce controversy over available space in the city for years. Ever since people moved to cities, things have gotten tighter: living space is becoming scarce and there is also heavy traffic on the streets.

Cars take up a particularly large amount of space: in addition to partly multi-lane streets, there is also plenty of parking space, while pedestrians with shopping trolleys, suitcases or walkers, as well as wheelchair users, joggers and parents with prams often have to share a narrow sidewalk. Even cycle paths are not always available.

In the corona pandemic, some cities spontaneously opened up additional cycle and walking paths

For this reason, activists keep calling for the limited space, especially for cars. The demands range from an increase in parking fees to a total ban on driving in the city center.

In the corona pandemic, they suddenly get significantly more followers. On well-frequented sidewalks it is often difficult for passers-by to keep enough distance. Some cities have reacted because of this and spontaneously opened up additional cycle and walking paths.

Now pubs and restaurants reopen in some federal states. The problem: In order to be able to keep enough distance between the tables, the shops can often only serve significantly fewer guests than usual.

In his podcast with the NDR in the podcast, the virologist Christian Drosten suggested that restaurants be given more space on the sidewalk after the loosening. Because there are some indications that there are fewer transmissions in the outdoor areas. But especially in the city, expanding the outside area of ​​restaurants and bars may not be easy to do everywhere. Because passers-by on the sidewalks should also be able to keep to the distance rules.

A district of Berlin wants to block streets and parking lots for restaurants

In Berlin, the district of Friedrichshain-Kreuzberg therefore wants to partially block parking lots and streets for cars in order to offer more space for restaurants, but also for retailers, traders and social projects. There are many popular pub districts in the district. The office said the block will initially be temporary from Friday to Sunday, from 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. To justify the measure, the district office said: “In particular for businesses that are threatened by the pandemic’s restrictions, there is increasing pressure to maintain larger external areas to ensure economic existence.”

If successful, the example could go to school – and possibly even change city centers in the long term. The management consultancy McKinsey expects that certain measures may endure beyond the corona crisis. “City administrations have rededicated streets for pedestrians and cyclists in the lockdown and are likely to continue successful projects even after the exit restrictions have been relaxed – also to ensure the distance between road users”, according to a current analysis of the change in mobility by Covid-19.

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