Why being car-free is a distant future in Berlin

Category: Top Stories


Unlocking Word Meanings

Read the following words/expressions found in today’s article.

  1. lag / læg / (v.) – to move or make progress slower than others

    The company is lagging behind its competitors when it comes to having an online presence.

  2. motorist / ˈmoʊ tər ɪst / (n.) – a person who drives a vehicle, such as a car, bus, or motorcycle

    The heavy traffic caused by the snow annoyed many motorists.

  3. eat up (something) / it ʌp / (phrasal v.) – to use something, such as time, resources, and space, so that little or nothing is left

    Video games are eating up all of Mark’s time. He has nothing left for studying.

  4. on hold / ɒn hoʊld / (idiom) – paused or delayed intentionally

    I put my vacation on hold because I still have work to do.

  5. pedestrian / pəˈdɛs tri ən / (n.) – a person walking along a road, especially in an area where vehicles go

    Thousands of pedestrians cross Shibuya Crossing every day.


Read the text below.

Across Europe, several cities are taking steps to remove cars from their city centers, but one capital is going in the other direction—Berlin’s new government wants to protect drivers’ rights.

While many European cities, such as Copenhagen, Amsterdam, and Paris are drastically reducing car traffic in their city centers in favor of cycle paths, Berlin is lagging behind, according to many critics.

At Potsdamer Platz, cyclists are not impressed with the city’s infrastructure.

“There have been a lot of plans, but not much actual building. I think the discussion is happening, but much more needs to be done,” says Elena Witte.

“It is difficult (to cycle). But it is better compared to ten years ago. I come from Freiburg, in South Germany, and there it’s a biking paradise. In comparison to there, it is very hard here. But it is getting better,” says Eva Albers.

But there are other opinions, of course, on the streets of Berlin. Motorists often criticize cycling infrastructure for eating up cars’ public space.

“Of course, each city needs bike paths. But you can’t steal the space from the cars and give it straight to the cyclists,” says Sergei, a car driver.

Some areas that had been dedicated as car-free, such as a section of the Friedrichstrasse street, have seen cars return. Other bike path projects were put on hold, or delayed, pending a review.

But the Christian Democratic party, who made a proposal to change the mobility law in the city, says that they are simply correcting the previous government’s unfair focus on bikes and negative view of other types of transport.

“We think that the safety of all types of transport is important for all,” says Johannes Kraft, mobility spokesperson for the Christian Democrats in Berlin.

“That includes pedestrians, which means mass transit like the underground and local rail and buses. But that also includes the car.”

The German capital is not likely to become car-free anytime soon. If anything, it’s becoming more car-friendly.

This article was provided by The Associated Press.

Viewpoint Discussion

Enjoy a discussion with your tutor.

Discussion A

  • Many cities in Europe are taking steps to remove cars from their city centers. In your opinion, should your government also consider doing this? Why or why not? Discuss.
  • In your opinion, is being a car-friendly city a negative thing? Why or why not? Would you prefer your city to be car-free or car-friendly? Why? Discuss.

Discussion B

  • Do cities in your country provide a favorable environment for daily cycling as transportation? What improvements do you think your city needs to be more bicycle-friendly (ex. secure bike parking, better cycling infrastructure)? Discuss.
  • Johannes Kraft says that all types of transportation are important. Do you agree with this? Do you think that there are types of transportation that should be prioritized? Why or why not? Discuss.