Many of you have probably heard of Berlin’s Bicycle Referendum, the “Volksentscheid Fahrrad Berlin”: The aim of this referendum is the introduction of the Berlin Bicycling Bill, the RadG. for which it has to be voted successfully in a referendum first. If you have not heard at all about the referendum, you will find a short summary about it below:
Reasons for the referendum:
In spite of the constantly increasing number of bicycles in Berlin the Berlin cycling strategy has only improved slightly: bad and not fully developed cycle lanes and a constantly increasing number of vehicles have motivated the initiators of the Berlin referendum to act. They have started the public discussion about it and set up a petitioning for a referendum as well as the following referendum.
The 10 key goals of the Volksentscheid Fahrrad Berlin
The initiators of the Volksentscheid Fahrrad Berlin have mainly created the following 10 key goals:
- Cycle streets which are safe for everyone, including children and seniors of new cycle streets shall be created by 2025, each one at least 5 metres wide with priority for cycling.
- Safe cycling infrastructure for every main road.
Every main road shall have a cycle lane or cycleway, at least 2 metres wide and at a safe distance from parked cars.
- Safer junctions and crossroads
In 2013, cycle safety discussions identified the 50 most dangerous junctions in the city. These junctions shall be made safer.
- Safer and more comfortable cycling – as chosen by the people
An online discussion identified places where the cycleways need repair, due to tree roots, potholes or other damage. These hotspots shall be taken care of.
- More and safer cycle parking
By 2025, 200,000 new, safe and practical cycle stands shall be installed in the city: 100,000 outside public transport stations and 100,000 in residential and business districts.
- Giving cycling the green light
Traffic signals shall be optimised so that people cycling at 20 kph would pass through at least 3 junctions on a green light.
- Fast cycleways for cycle commuters
By 2025, 100km of fast cycleways shall be introduced along typical commuter routes, offering an appealing alternative to going by car.
- Enforcing safer and more conscientious transportation
Every police headquarters shall have a Department for Cycle Traffic which will take action against those who commit acts endangering people cycling or walking, as well as cracking down on illegal parking, speed violations and dangerous driving.
- More representatives in council positions
Sufficient roles shall be created in the senate and in regional government for planning and coordination of traffic improvements. The individuals filling these roles shall publish quarterly reports on the progress of these projects online.
- Prepare Berlin for an increase in cycling
Each year, Berlin shall invest in PR to prepare the city and its people for a future with more cycling. There will be plenty of public reports on the progress of these projects, and their benefits will be promoted widely.
All goals can be found here in detail.
The Bicycling Bill
Supported by lawyers, transport experts and administration insiders the initiative Volksentscheid Fahrrad Berlin has completed the Bicycling Bill. You will find all details about the bill here.
This is how the referendum works:
- stage: the application
As a first step it has been neccessary to collect 20000 signatures to let the referendum be examined by the Berlin policy. This stage has been achieved by far with the collection of more than 100000 valid signatures. As a consequence a petition of 105425 signatures has been handed over to the Berlin Senats-Innenverwaltung (internal administration). This is seen as the basis for petition for the implementation of the referendum. This first step has been reached.
- stage: petition for a referendum
Afterwards the senate will verify whether the petition falls within the criteria. Apart from the validity of the votes the legal and formal legatimacy of the petition have also been examined. This legal review has not been cpmpleted yet.
Only if the legitimacy has been established the referendum can take place. Therefore the signatures of seven per cent of the entitled persons to vote have to be presented to the senate, which is about 175000 – but now in the period of four months. Then the parliament can debate about the petition within these four months and accept it „in it’s core elements unchangedly“. Alternatively the parliament can present a alternative concept as it has been the case concerning the referendum about the „Tempelhofer Feld“. If the petition is not accepted by the senate, the third stage will be initiated, the referendum
- stage: the referendum
Current situation of the Volksenscheid Fahrrad Berlin:
At the moment the Berlin Bicycling Bill, the RadG, that should be pushed forward with the help of the referendum, has been legally examined by the senate administration for over 6 months. This is far too much time for the initiators and supporters of the Bicycling Bill because in the case of other referendum processes the examination has often been finished after only four or eight weeks.
That’s why an action for failure has been submitted to the Administrative Court of Berlin which has finally been withdrawn by the initiators in march 2017. With the withdrawal of the complaint the initiative reacts on the fact that the senate has finally examined the Bicycle Bill and it has fallen down.
Going on together – that’s how it works:
The initiators now want to continue and use the strong momentum created in 2016. Especially the election for the house of representatives has brought an encouraging result for a bike-friendly Berlin. According to this the aim can only be to gain much more political support for the Bicycle Bill. Therefore every interested person and bike-enthusiast can participate and join in the initiative so that the bill will come true very soon.
What is the best way to support? Just have a look at the homepage oft he Volksentscheid Fahrrad Berlin. Here you will also find all neccessary information about how to support the initiative with donation.