With a rally through large parts of Berlin, thousands of people demonstrated with their bicycles for a traffic turnaround on Sunday. The traditional demo – it was the 45th edition since 1977 – had 16 “stars” this year, because of the Corona restrictions there was only one start in Brandenburg.
The first police estimate of the number of participants was “lower five-digit range”, ADFC spokeswoman Lisa Feitsch spoke of 20,000 participants in the afternoon. In the past few years there have been up to 30,000 cyclists.
The demonstration, organized by the ADFC bicycle club, had the motto: “The future begins today – traffic turnaround now,” the association had only expected 15,000 participants due to the pandemic. Videos and pictures showed that the protesters largely adhered to the mandatory mask requirement.
As every year, the 16 “rays” of the star gathered in front of two sections of the motorway, which is always the highlight of the tour, especially for children. However, this year the Berlin police acted as a brake on the fun and forbade driving through the Britzer Tunnel on the A100 city motorway. Children in particular always liked to drive through the winding tunnel because the bells echoed so nicely.
The presidium had justified the ban with “averting danger,” as a police spokesman said on Friday. In the event of a panic, there are not enough escape routes available, so that “a large number of injured people” is to be feared. Environmental groups have announced that they will have this ban reviewed by a court.
Many participants found it incomprehensible, if only because of the much higher risk of fire when car traffic in a tunnel. The rally rounded the tunnel south on Sunday and only steered towards the Gradestrasse on the A100 to Innsbrucker Platz. The other half of the rays of the rally used the Avus, as every year, and ultimately everyone met at the Brandenburg Gate. There was a small rally there, the usual environmental festival was canceled.
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Because of the many roadblocks, drivers had to accept traffic jams and diversions. According to the police, there were no accidents. According to the ADFC, the police caused the only minor mishap: The Prenzlauer Allee meeting point had to be skipped because the police car at the top had lost its way. It has never happened in the past few decades that a meeting point has been forgotten.
The reasons for the rally on the first weekend in June are World Bicycle Day on June 3rd and World Environment Day on June 5th, as the ADFC announced. In Berlin there is “a clear need for improvement for the bike”.
The association called for a consistent implementation of the Mobility Act, which gives priority to bicycles and public transport over car traffic in traffic planning. Car parking spaces should be reallocated to make room for safe cycling. The loud and often much too fast through traffic has to “get out of the neighborhoods”.
Every year there is different information about the number of participants. In the past, the police usually estimated between 20,000 and 30,000 cyclists. A few years ago, the Tagesspiegel also counted 30,000 people. The ADFC used to like to name 100,000 or even 250,000 participants. (with dpa)