Inconsiderate cyclists, e-scooters parked in the wild, restrictive outdoor catering: a walk through downtown Frankfurt reveals problems for pedestrians.
We are standing on the promenade of the Mainkais when a black-clad cyclist approaches at breakneck speed, rings the bell and passes us so close that we have to take a step to the side so that he doesn’t brush against us. It is precisely such situations that must be avoided, complains Sylke Petry. She is a member of the Frankfurt / Offenbach pedestrian working group, as is Manfred Bernard. During a tour of downtown Frankfurt on Friday afternoon, we would like to see how the situation is shaping up for pedestrians.
Cyclists are not only a problem on the Mainkai. Already at the Hauptwache, the starting point of our tour, Petry says: “We often have problems with cyclists” while two cyclists whiz past her. “It’s actually too fast.” Because the Zeil is a pedestrian zone that is open to bicycles. That means: cycling is allowed here, but only at walking pace – which by far not everyone adheres to. “Overall, a lot is being done in Frankfurt to ensure that cyclists ride on the streets,” says Petry. “We think that’s good.” But when the roadway isn’t inviting, they often turned to sidewalks. “The endangered pedestrians.”
The working group for foot traffic in Frankfurt / Offenbach, in which the pedestrian association Fuß eV and the Verkehrsclub Deutschland (VCD) work together, has around ten active members. They advocate the promotion of pedestrian traffic, which includes, for example, attractive and wide sidewalks, fair traffic light switching, better barrier-free crossing possibilities of streets and generally more traffic-calmed areas and pedestrian zones. As a counterpart to the cycling office, it is calling for its own pedestrian traffic office in Frankfurt, “so that all forms of environmentally friendly transport are promoted equally”.
Our next stop is the corner of Liebfrauenstrasse / Bleidenstrasse. Construction work is taking place on the corner house, which houses Tchibo, among other things, which is why a temporarily demarcated pedestrian path has been set up. “We wonder why it is there,” says Bernard. According to the sign, the street is already a pedestrian zone, and also a bicycle street, which means that cars, pedestrians and cyclists share the street. The whole situation is confusing, a few pedestrians are walking on the street, past moving cars. “They do it right,” says Petry. But it doesn’t look relaxed. Others take the separated sidewalk, on which they have to walk one behind the other as if in single file.
We turn into Töngesgasse. In front of the Café Mozart and the associated restaurant Römer-Pils-Brunnen there are tables and chairs on the sidewalk in such a way that it becomes narrow and we have to avoid it.
But it’s not all bad: Braubachstrasse is a positive example – the next stop on our route. Former car parking spaces have been converted here; The so-called parking bags now serve as a parking space for bicycles, as an area for benches and for outdoor catering in the cafes and restaurants. But the keen eye of the passionate pedestrian Petry finds one small thing to complain about: Café Bitter & Zart has placed two boards written in chalk, which refer to the 3G rule, in the middle of the sidewalk. “If they were now on the sidelines, it would be perfect,” says Petry. Because: “The walkway should always be free of obstacles.”
Overall, Petry and Bernard see many advantages for walking in the city. “We recognize that Frankfurt does a lot,” says Petry. “But there are also new problems,” emphasizes Bernard: For example e-scooters. Bernard advocates that the scooters should only be parked specially for this purpose and intended to drive on the road, not on the sidewalk.
Our way leads us over the Römerberg to our last stop: the Mainkai. “We were delighted when the Mainkai was car-free,” emphasizes Bernard. He generally wanted to reduce car traffic in the city. But it wasn’t all positive either. The traffic light with the request circuit was switched off during the model test. “Because of the large number of cyclists, it was much more difficult for pedestrians to get over there.”
Cars are now driving on the Main Quay again, “it is as frequented as it was before the attempt,” says Bernard. After all: for cyclists: inside there are bright red marked paths on the street. Still, many prefer the promenade. “I always prick up my ears to hear whether bicycles are coming from behind,” says Petry as we walk along the Mainkai. “I don’t mind as long as you drive carefully here. But I don’t want to be rang off. “
Even if cyclists seem to be one of the biggest problems for pedestrians: Inside, Petry and Bernard emphasize: “We don’t want to play cyclists off against pedestrians.” In the end, it is always a matter of consideration. Bernard sums up: “As a pedestrian you shouldn’t always have to come to terms with it. Driving fast is a problem – regardless of the vehicle. “