As more headlines are feeding us news of ever-increasing restrictions on diesel cars, this week we got thinking about the future of a greener world less dependent on cars.
Berlin has no central pedestrian zone, something you’ve probably not thought too much about until we just mentioned it! This is one of the things that makes Berlin different to many other major European cities. Despite having many green parks within the city itself, Berlin is still extremely car-heavy.
A city of cyclists, where some 400,000 bikes per day are the mode of transport of choice for commuters and city livers, has helped Berlin’s reputation as a green city, and since 2008 Berlin has had a low emission zone, but things are soon going to step up!
Expected in mid-2019, driving restrictions or driving bans altogether are set to come into enforcement throughout Berlin. On the 9th October, it was announced that specific diesel vehicles would no longer be able to be driven on at least 11 road sections, by latest June 2019.
Some of the areas restricted are Leipziger Strasse, Reinhardtstrasse, Brueckenstrasse and Friedrichstrasse amongst others.
Who will be affected?
In simple terms all diesel vehicles in the pollutant classes Euro 1 to Euro 5. There is also some uncertainty as to whether this could also stretch to Euro 6 diesels in the future which would affect more than 300,000 drivers in Berlin.
But the effects of a car ban or at least car reduction would have much further reaching consequences. Realistically we will all feel the effects of the diesel restrictions in one way or another, positively or negatively depending on the way you look at it.
Why should we enforce a driving ban?
Does it seem unnecessary and more of an inconvenience than anything else? Well, actually there are endless reasons why we believe this is only a positive change!
Within car exhaust fumes all sorts of harmful and unwanted substances can be found such as; nitrogen oxides, soot particles, carbon dioxide, sulfur dioxide and benzene. These can all be harmful for us, and/or the environment. In a city already known for having pretty low air quality at times, we definitely don’t need more of these substances around.
Reducing street traffic:
This cannot be a bad thing, if you’ve ever seen Berlin in rush hour, then you already know what a nightmare it can be trying to get anywhere at those times of the day. Reducing street traffic could mean an easier flow of traffic all over the city and an improved public transport system.
Berlin, like most cities, now is never quiet, and this comes with the territory of a big, busy capital. However, noise pollution is becoming an ever bigger problem and actively working against it is something we should all have on our agenda to make sure Berlin stays better for longer.
It’s no surprise to hear that Berlin isn’t the cleanest city on Earth, and to be honest this is part of the city’s appeal. The grungy, casual and mismatched city makes Berlin what it is however this does not mean we can treat it with disrespect. Rubbish and cigarettes discarded out of car windows is a huge problem and so more acknowledgement of this issue teamed with less traffic on the roads could be a really positive step to reducing the problem.
But alternatives to driving take too long…
One day, two of our team were travelling to the office from the center of Berlin. One took the UBahn whilst the other ran. It was amazing that the person who ran arrived back first, this surprised and amazed us all but what is for sure is that both people would have arrived even later if driving. This fun little challenge showed just how going on foot or by public transport can be so much more effective than driving.
But it’s expensive and takes too much effort…
We’re sorry but this excuse doesn’t count! Compare the price of public transport to other European cities and you’ll soon see that public transport here in Berlin is extremely affordable. Furthermore, walking to the station, bus stop or even cycling to work can be the perfect way to make sure you’re getting in your daily dose of exercise.