Metropolises: Town twinning: What Berlin can learn from Paris

Friends for life? Who knows.

Metropolises: Town twinning: What Berlin can learn from Paris

Friends for life? Who knows. After all, the city partnership between the two European metropolises Berlin and Paris has existed for 35 years.

A lot has happened since then. Berlin was reunified, the capital of the Federal Republic and a cosmopolitan city whose attraction neither the penniless bohemian nor the car-building tech billionaires can escape. But with the growing popularity, the problems have also increased: lack of housing, rising rents and disputes about the scarce space on the streets are challenges that Paris also knows well.

At the urban development conference this Monday, to which Berlin's governing mayor Franziska Giffey (SPD) has invited, representatives of both cities can exchange views on these topics. The motto: "Unfinished metropolis". What could Berlin learn from the girlfriend on the Seine?

Car-free city:

For a number of years, Paris has been driving a traffic shift in which cars have been forced to give way to pedestrians and green spaces on a growing number of side streets, or lanes to be turned into bike lanes. All of this fits into a plan presented in 2018, which promised the metropolis a breather with more urban greenery, 1000 kilometers of cycle paths and new tram lines. Some streets are closed to traffic - for example the right bank of the Seine - instead a promenade has emerged there. In the city center, the speed limit has been 30 for over a year, except on some main axes.

Even on the Périphérique city motorway, the number of lanes is to be reduced. The driving force behind many things is Mayor Anne Hidalgo, who has declared war on cars and air pollution.

There are also visions for a - at least largely - car-free city in Berlin. The first mobility law in Germany gives priority to climate-friendly walking, cycling and public transport in the capital. But the implementation of the lofty goals with new cycle paths, safer intersections, more bus lanes and less space for cars is progressing slowly. She often threatens to get bogged down in the toils of the plain.

The most recent example is Berlin's attempt to transform the busy Friedrichstrasse into a car-free promenade. The administrative court objected to the car blocking and thus once again revealed the different attitudes within the Senate on these issues.

Social housing:

The city of Paris has been promoting social housing for over 20 years. The capital has invested more than three billion euros since 2001 in the construction of more than 100,000 new social housing units. The proportion of social housing, which was 13.4 percent in 2001, is expected to rise to a good 25 percent by 2025. France's parliament decided in 2000 that the country's major cities must create at least 20 percent social housing. On this basis, Paris created an urban plan in 2006 with strict targets for the construction of social housing, for which more space in the city was reserved - even in the better neighborhoods where there was previously little social housing. At the same time, the city intensified the fight against the letting of run-down apartments.

The Berlin Senate is also desperately looking for solutions to create more affordable living space. However, the number of social housing units in the capital has recently even fallen. So far this year not a single application for funding for the construction of social housing has been approved, said a spokesman for the responsible Senate administration a few weeks ago. On the one hand, too few new social housing units are being built, and on the other hand, social security is limited to a few decades, so that numerous housing units fall out of it every year. But it is also true that Parisian rents are still significantly higher on average than in Berlin.

E-Scooter Regulation:

To deal with the flood of e-scooters that tourists and residents use to get around the capital, Paris has regulated the number of scooters and providers. After a tender, three providers have each been able to rent 5,000 e-scooters since September 2020. Whether there will be another tender at the beginning of 2023 is currently being discussed - the e-scooters may be banned from Paris, as city councilor David Belliard recently announced. From his point of view, the scooters cause many problems. There are numerous accidents, traffic rules are not observed, the environmental balance is dubious and parked scooters are lying around everywhere in the way.

E-scooters lying around also annoy Berliners. There are tens of thousands of vehicles in the capital. Even stricter conditions imposed by the Senate have not curbed the uncontrolled growth so far. However, the Senate is now no longer ruling out upper limits and an invitation to tender for licenses.

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