By Dr. Stefan Carsten

Dr. Stefan Carsten is a leading expert on mobility in Berlin and the author of the Berlin Intelligence Report, the industry’s most in-depth analysis of the German Capital’s mobility market.

In 2018, the Berlin Mobility Act, a groundbreaking piece of legislation was passed.  It provides the basis for a realignment of the city and mobility strategy by prioritizing environmentally-friendly modes of mobility over motorized individual transport. This policy, which is a bold rejection of the car-centric city, is the first of its kind in Germany. 

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“This law creates the legal framework for an individual lifestyle that is equal in all parts of Berlin and geared to the mobility needs of the city and surrounding area, regardless of age, gender, income, and personal mobility impairments as well as life situation, ethnic origin or individual availability of transport. The mobility regulated by this law includes the special requirements of all mobility groups, those of pedestrians and cyclists, public transport, commercial transport, and individual motorized transport. It thereby ensures the priority of ecomobility –  i.e. pedestrian traffic, bicycles, and public transport.” (Excerpt from the preamble of the Berlin Mobility Act).

The Mobility Act is the foundation for Berlin’s overarching urban planning strategy. This has been reflected in several of recently passed laws: 

  • The pedestrian law in January 2021,
  •  the urban development plan for mobility and traffic was passed in March 2021 and 
  • the cycling law in September 2021.

These pieces of legislation will be key in realizing a number of ambitious eco-mobility goals. In 2030, 82 percent of all trips (currently 74 percent) are to be completed by bicycle (23 percent of currently 18 percent), by foot (30/30), and by public transport (29/27), at the expense of motorized private transport (18 /26).

Modal split in Berlin, 2013-2030 (Senate for the Environment, Mobility, Consumer and Climate Protection, 2021)

The Pedestrian Law 

Among other things, the pedestrian law extends the amount of time the green light is lit on pedestrian traffic lights; provides safer routes to school for children, and enacts tougher action against illegal parking and dangerous driving. Each of the twelve Berlin districts must now develop corresponding pilot projects within three years. This will drastically reduce the number of people injured or killed in road traffic, 38 percent of whom are pedestrians.

The Cycling Act

The Cycling Act has been developed to encourage a significant increase in cyclists. Cycle paths are to be greatly expanded to create a cycle network with a total length of almost 2,400 kilometers. 865 kilometers will be part of a priority network containing the most important connections for cyclists with a standard width of 2.50 meters. In addition, a further 550 kilometers of main roads are to be built that are not part of the actual cycling network but are provided for by the Mobility Act. In these cases, the paths should generally be 2.30 meters wide. Together with around 100 kilometers of high-speed cycle connections, the entire network plan will be around 3,000 kilometers long.

The Berlin Mobility Act & Commercial Opportunities 

The city’s Senate administration has successfully implemented most of the projects planned for the first few years of the Mobility Act. However, plans for the final piece of the puzzle, commercial transport, and new mobility, are still missing initially. The implementation of the Act focused less on built measures and more on adapting the institutional framework, including the establishment of the coordination office for cycling and walking. Personnel capacity has been significantly increased, primarily through the creation and appointment of cycling coordinators in the districts. Existing plans have been expanded and investment significantly increased, as the 167 percent growth in public transport investments thanks to a new contract with Verkehrsbetriebe (BVG) shows.

In addition, the act shines a spotlight on new business opportunities and investments: the expansion of mobility hubs, the implementation of smart city measures for efficient traffic management, and the need to unlock the mobility data potential. As Berlin is one of the frontrunner cities in the adoption of electric mobility (also by means of Tesla’s Gigafactory) in Germany, energy and battery applications and industries will be located here. 

Exporting the Berlin Mobility Act

The example of the pop-up cycle paths exemplifies that such a clearly defined vision, especially in times of crisis like the Covid 19 pandemic, enables political decision-making and the administration to act. Not only are these cycle paths widely accepted among the population, but they also significantly increase cycling and were only made possible politically by the framework of the Mobility Act. The law also forms the planning basis for the structural continuity of the pop-up cycle paths. 

On this basis, the Berlin Mobility Act has the potential for international transferability in many respects, both legally and politically and not least in terms of transport. Acts like this one are key in instigating transformation towards sustainable mobility in the medium term.

Interested in learning more about opportunities in the Berlin mobility market? 

“Berlin is like a window into the future of urban mobility – the Berlin Intelligence Report provides an excellent summary of the current status and development and we are happy to use it to work on our vision of future mobility.” 

Hans-Christian Winter, Mobility Strategist, IAV 

The Berlin Intelligence Report is a must-read for any company operating in or interested in learning more about the Berlin Mobility Market. With a special focus on shared mobility, this report offers an unparalleled, in-depth analysis of the Berlin mobility landscape along with the challenges and opportunities found within it.

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