Bicycles in parking lots: dos and don’ts

In some parts of Berlin, drivers have to make a detour or two after work to find a parking space – just like in other big German cities. Now some fear the problem could worsen next year. After all, new parking rules will apply in the German capital from January. The bone of contention was an allegedly new way of parking bicycles in parking lots.

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Claim: From January, bicycles, motorcycles, pedelecs and scooters will also be allowed to park in Berlin’s parking lots.
Rating: No, they’ve been allowed to for years.
Facts: Beatrix von Storch, deputy chair of the AfD parliamentary group, complains about the “war on the car”. Member of the Berlin Bundestag from the CDU Jan-Marko Luczak feels “ideological[n] Struggle with motorists.” It is difficult for them that in the future bicycles will increasingly be able to be parked in places supposedly intended for cars. A new chapter in the dispute between motorists and cyclists.

There is no difference between cars and bicycles

But even the sidewalks in Berlin are sometimes narrow. Scooters, motorcycles, rental and cargo bikes, pedelecs or bicycles – in some places pedestrians sometimes have to walk in wavy lines. In late November, the red-green-red senate led by the ruling mayor Franziska Giphy (SPD) passed long-announced changes to parking fee rules. From January 1, 2023, the parking fee will increase for the first time in 20 years. Bicycles, pedelecs, cargo bikes, light motorcycles and mopeds, on the other hand, must be allowed to park for free in the parking lots.

The fact that they are allowed to stand at all is not new. According to the Road Traffic Regulations (StVO), which apply throughout the country, public parking lots or places designated for parking on the side of the road have always not been reserved exclusively for cars, but can also be used by other vehicles. This includes all types of two-wheeled vehicles. According to the StVO article “Parking and stopping” (item 12), no distinction is made between cars and bicycles.

For the latest StVO reform of 2020, there was initially a plan to ban parked bikes on hard curbs and lanes. However, the Federal Council deleted this sentence, partly because, in its opinion, “it would lead to an unjustified disadvantage compared to cars”. The only new thing in Berlin’s 2023 regulation is that bicycles, motorbikes and the like should be exempt from parking fees. Previously, anyone who wanted to avoid these costs simply parked on the sidewalk.

Space-saving bicycle parking

“I finally want bicycles, scooters and other small vehicles to disappear from the sidewalks, where they have been allowed by law until now,” Berlin’s mobility senator Bettina Jarasch (Greens) told RBB recently. However, some now fear the new rules could increase the capital’s parking shortage. However, in practice, cyclists are sure to wonder whether their vehicle would be better protected from theft if it was attached to the frame of the bicycle than if it were to sit freely on the side of the road.

In addition, all road users must park in a space-saving manner. A scenario in which several bikes are parked individually at a long distance close to each other in order to prolong the search for a parking space for as many drivers as possible for ideological reasons is certainly against the StVO. However, the CDU parliamentary group’s traffic spokesman in Berlin’s House of Representatives, Oliver Friederici, has a dim view of the unnecessary conflicts between car drivers and cyclists. His colleague Felix Reifschneider from the FDP faction talks about the “ideological struggle with the car”.

First of all, dissatisfaction was caused by the press release of the Senate Department on Environment and Mobility. It says cyclists, cyclists or motorcyclists should be encouraged to “make more active use of these traffic areas”. The Senate office later took to Twitter to be a little more cautious: bicycles and the like “generally should be parked in designated spaces.”

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