The Senate rejects the popular initiative “Berlin car-free” and recommends that the House of Representatives reject the initiative’s draft law. At the same time, the interior administration submitted the project to the state constitutional court because of concerns about the constitutionality of the regulation. This was decided by the state government at its meeting on Tuesday.
Although the Senate shares the basic goals of the referendum to reduce the number of cars in the city, the project of a largely car-free inner city within the S-Bahn ring is not supported, said Transport Senator Bettina Jarasch (Greens). “We are both convinced that the draft law is not suitable for achieving the traffic turnaround that we are striving for.”
As the admissibility check of the Senate Department of the Interior, which became known last week, showed that the draft law “entails disproportionate interference with the general freedom of action,” said Jarasch.
The regulation to reduce the number of permitted private car journeys initially to twelve and later to six per year is “too rigid and too low”.
Regardless of this, the Senate sees problems with the project. “The whole ban would also apply to stationary traffic. This means that all the problems we have with mobility in Berlin would shift to the area outside the S-Bahn ring,” said the Senator for Transport.
The mobility turnaround that the Senate is pursuing has a city-wide approach. To do this, new tram routes, cycle paths and car-sharing offers would also have to be created outside the center. “We have to bring all of that to the outskirts first, so we want to prioritize it,” said Jarasch. The draft law does exactly the opposite, in which it “pits inner city against outer city”.
Jarasch explained that he wanted to develop the traffic turnaround from the neighborhoods, because Berlin is a decentralized city. “We need car-free neighborhoods, but not a car-free inner city.” If, on the other hand, the entire S-Bahn ring were to be made largely car-free, the problems would be so great that they “rather counteract acceptance of the mobility turnaround,” the transport senator feared.
Formally, the draft law now goes directly to the House of Representatives. However, Jarasch expected that the parliamentarians would first wait and see how the constitutional court ruled on the matter before making a possible assessment. Within the next two weeks, the interior administration will present the draft law to the constitutional judges. It is currently unclear when such a decision can be expected.
“The ‘proportionality’ is just an excuse to avoid the political debate. Our demands for a fairer distribution of space, more safety on our streets and a healthier life are not only proportionate, but absolutely necessary,” said referendum spokeswoman Marie Wagner.
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She was convinced that the law would stand up in court. “So far, no legal assessment has identified any fundamental objections.”
The fact that the Senate is now going to court early fits into the picture of the “discouraged transport policy of recent years,” added co-spokesman Benni Wasmer. “We expected at least a clear commitment to the traffic turnaround from the green mobility senator. This lack of political will to shape things is now with us on the test bench.”