As a test, Darmstadt has designated street space for motorists – for the benefit of cyclists. This will always be a fixture. However, the experiment did not go smoothly across the board.
Making cycling in the city more attractive and safer – this is the goal of the City of Science Darmstadt. In order to get closer to it, cyclists’ lanes were temporarily widened at four critical points last year. On the other hand, drivers since then have had to be content with less space in the corresponding places.
The Darmstadt University of Applied Sciences provided scientific support for the experiment, which lasted several months. The evaluation now comes to the conclusion: Changes are a good thing and should be kept – with some improvements. The city wants to implement this immediately and permanently divert temporary arrangements. This is a city council decision that city council members have yet to approve.
The movement of pedestrians and bicycles is more attractive and safer
The university should investigate how the new regulations affect traffic. The city council announced that it had come to the conclusion that the new traffic routes made pedestrian and bicycle movement more attractive and safer. “Overall, we’re achieving another milestone in this path of creating more space between the different modes of transportation,” said Michael Colmer, Greens Transportation President.
Specifically, it concerns the street sections of Roßdörfer Platz, Steubenplatz, Neckarstrasse and Zeughausstrasse. According to the city, no significant accumulation of vehicular traffic was observed during the investigations. In particular, emergency and rescue vehicles were not disabled. There were more motor vehicles especially on the Schloßgraben in rush hour traffic. But that was also the case before trying.
Up to 40 percent increase in bicycle traffic in places
However, an increase in bicycle traffic, as the city would like, has not been observed everywhere. This was most evident in Neckarstrasse. The city put it here at 20 to 40 percent with a simultaneous decrease in vehicular traffic. As planned, this has turned into the hub of the Donnersbergring/Hindenburgstrasse.
The researchers noticed problems on the Zeughausstrasse from the underground car park exit and along Mathildenplatz. In their opinion, this may be due to the complex and unclear lane of traffic with annoying signals, overlapping lanes and frequent turns. This is where the limits of such traffic attempts became clear, the city said. However, the project was also generally successful.
Acceptance increases over time
According to a spokesperson, the city has prepared well for the trials. It was important to the site selection that the measures, if successful, could be “standardized” without structural or legal issues – so nothing stood in the way of renovation.
Of course not everything was accepted without contradiction at first, the speaker admitted. Darmstadt is a city open to debate. In general, the majority of feedback was positive. Over time, acceptance among drivers and cyclists has increased.
Not everyone will change at the same time
Experience from other cities such as Wiesbaden or Frankfurt shows that after intra-city traffic management is redesigned in favor of cycling, difficult transitions can emerge. Accordingly, drivers do not immediately switch to bicycles or buses and trains, but are looking for other ways. Thus, car traffic initially shifted to other areas.
But in the long run, this won’t end with a traffic crash, says Jacob Hepsacker of the Wiesbaden Staff Unit for Mobility Concepts. “We have to redistribute the existing space – to the detriment of the cars. We should not think short-term.”
Yellow becomes white
In Darmstadt, experimental traffic routes will now be gradually converted into permanent systems. Then the yellow marks are replaced with white ones. This could continue until early summer 2022, Kollmer said. According to the city, implementing a more visible traffic management at Zeughausstraße will only be possible from fall 2022 onwards due to the canal construction project scheduled for spring.
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