Symbolic image showing a traffic sign for a one-way street
cologne | The conversion of the transport infrastructure in Cologne is in full swing. Central axes in particular are under discussion and are to become one-way streets, such as Wenlor Strasse. Now the discussion about Kalker Hauptstrasse begins. The Transport Committee and the Kalak Zilla Parishad will discuss the issue in August. The population protests, the Kalk civic association and the local community of Kalk are making a dramatic appeal to Henriette Recker, Mayor of Cologne.
Kalker Hauptstraße is to become a one-way street between Rolshover Straße and Kapellenstraße. Oncoming traffic must then be routed via Dillenburger Strasse. About 700 meters of Kalkarer Hauptstraße are affected. Traffic will then be diverted accordingly via Rolshver Strae and Kapelenstrae. Only the curb-to-curb portion of the road is affected, not pedestrian walkways. It just needs to be redesigned.
Now it has to be investigated and the city administration has to prepare a public participation. The local population protests. The city administration became active when politicians made such a decision in the Weidel era.
The SPD and the left were the initiators
The application comes from the Cologne SPD and comes from May 25, 2021 with the heading “More free space for the Külker Hauptstraße in Cologne-Kalk” on the left side. (AN 1144/2021) The city administration is to develop a uniform concept by the first quarter of this year. Both sides want to free Külker Hauptstrasse from car traffic and move it to the B55 (Dillenberger Strasse). In addition, the city administration should examine how Kilker Hauptstraße can be downgraded from federal road status, as this functionality was taken over by the B55A built at the same time. According to the SPD and the left, Kalker Hauptstrasse has not had a supra-local function for years. The Cologne city administration is already in coordination with the responsible authorities.
According to local politicians in Kalkar, the main street in Kalkar makes the retail park unattractive. SPD and left write in Calc without naming the study: “Studies show that cyclists and pedestrians are more likely to participate in cars than customers.”
City officials found out
In this area, the cross-section of Kalker Hauptstraße is about 8 meters wide. The city administration sees conflicts with protective lanes for cyclists, as these are often blocked by parked cars, but are also too small for heavy traffic. The city administration speaks of a security risk. Buses and trucks operated by the Cologne Transport Authority (KVB) also have to pass through protective strips. The statements in the draft strategy relate only to traffic conditions. There is no information on the economic impact.
That’s what the city government is planning
The city wants to create a conflict-free zone for cyclists and the rest for motorized private transport. In addition, pedestrians should be able to walk better and check how they can cross the street better. For the two KVB bus routes 159 and 171, the one-way street regulation would have significant effects: the journey time would be longer and the costs of the KVB would increase. The administration has proposed a loading zone for deliveries to shops. The city administration wants public participation, as required by law.
City officials want the public to participate
The city administration proposes three options to the public:
• Variant 1: “Bike lanes on both sides”
• Type 2: “Cycle lanes protected on one side by parallel parking lanes”
• Variant 3: “Protected two-way cycle path”
The city administration combines three goals with citizen participation:
• Comprehensive information for residents and users of the planning area
• Contact target groups to gain valuable knowledge from urban society
• Creation of project approvals
The city of Cologne sees the following areas as planning areas:
• Kalker Hauptstrasse
• Hallweg Street
• Nuremberg Street
• Seavers Street
• Josephskarch Street
• Breuer Street
• Dillenburger Strasse
The city invites residents and owners as well as users of Kalker Hauptstraße.
Then the politicians give advice
First, the Transportation Committee will deliberate on the city government’s proposal on August 23, before the Kalk Zilla Parishad will vote on August 25. If the Zilla Parishad votes like the Transport Committee, then there will be no new debate. Should the Zilla Parishad vote separately, the Transport Committee will consider it again at its regular meeting on September 27th.
Criticism of the city society and the dramatic appeal by Mayor Recker
The Kalk EV citizens’ association and the Kalk EV site community have asked Mayor Henriette Recker to intervene and have written an open letter to the Mayor of Cologne. It is planned to convert the Aadhar Kalkar main street into a one-way street leading out of the city. The direction of travel is based on the direction of the police and fire brigade emergency vehicles, as the Cologne-Kalk police station is to the west in the Walter-Paulie-Ring, as is the fire station in Gummersbacher. stray.
In their open letter, the city’s stakeholders point out that after years of decline in Kalak, also due to deindustrialization, there is now a glimmer of hope that successful and socially just gentrification is taking place. In the case of Kalkarer Hauptstrasse, local citizens contact a magistrate, which affects the entire district, which is larger than just the Kalk district. 140 retail shops offer their goods on around 24,000 square meters, there are doctors and other service providers. The initiator Cologne writes about the state of the local retail trade after the Arcaden was founded: “The appearance of the Klacker Hauptstraße was strongly influenced by the purchasing power and demand of the predominantly socially disadvantaged and multi-ethnic residents. After the opening of the mall, it has faced significant downside trade problems ever since. When leases expire, new leases may result in minor or emergency leases.
In addition, retail is struggling with the effects of the corona pandemic, rising inflation and energy costs and staff shortages. The migration to online business is also affecting the local retail business. But there were also positive developments such as diagonal parking and roller coasters, which led to significantly more business.
Local actors also see two sides of cycling. This includes cyclists and cyclists. According to citizens, customs collide here.
kalkar feels overwhelmed
The open letter continues: “The Zilla Parishad tries to respond to problems, improve the quality of life in the district and create better solutions. The city administration has therefore proposed redesigning Kalker Hauptstrasse as a one-way street. The offer was accepted by the wife. This created facts and took Kalkar completely by surprise. The participation of the above-mentioned protagonist and the consultation of (scientific) expertise by IHK, HDE or HUG were deliberately avoided. Citizens’ association Kalk and community evaluation site Kalk. A helpless part of the Zilla community and the administration with qualitatively and quantitatively weak staff want to bring about a quick minimum resolution through official channels. Each of them pleases its customers, but largely ignores the essential functions of the street and the existential needs of the residents. The money that the city saves by switching to the minimum principle is largely borne by dealers, service providers and homeowners, who have to accept significant losses in sales and rents. Real estate values are destroyed. Due to falling shop rents, the loss in value of a 100 square meter shop can easily amount to 250,000 euros for the property and a total of 60 million euros for the shopping street.
The ombudsmen recall the sensitive handling of the situation on the ground. Examples from other cities, countries and continents would be viewed positively, but how much do they have to do with the location in Kalk? Citizens therefore ask whether apples are being compared with pears here. Because what are the positive examples nationally and internationally compared to the social structure in Kalk, with locally low purchasing power and the immediate vicinity of Cologne’s largest shopping center? valid question.
The authors of the open letter accuse the Cologne administration of politics and ideology at the expense of the citizens. Applications piled up in the city administration, and processing was postponed for years. Citizen writes: “However, the one-way street regulation is the weakest of all solutions. The regulation of the out-of-town one-way streets makes it worse, as visitors and customers coming from the district on Kalker Hauptstrasse have to contend with Kalk’s problems. You have to make significant detours through Kalkar North or South to shop in town. Therefore, many people will go straight to the city center and do their business there. However, traffic from the city has already lost its purchasing power in the city. And they criticize the poor access to medical systems for seniors and people with walking disabilities. They also fear traffic jams at intersections that are already busy today.
The authors don’t just leave it at criticism, but rather constructively: They ask why not check 30 zones? Changing the parking position back to parallel parking to widen the cross-section of the roadway?
Kalkar representatives refer to negative experiences
Kalker Hauptstrasse has sales experience with traffic closures or restrictions, for example through races around Cologne or, more recently, through street festivals. It’s been a while, but the subway construction is making itself felt here too – all experiences are clearly negative. There are also experiences with the conversion to one-way streets in the immediate vicinity. Here in memory, Taunusstrasse with a devastating effect. With the transformation of Deutzer Freiheit into a pedestrian zone, we hear that some retailers are cutting sales by 50 percent.
The Kalk Citizens’ Association and the local community of Kalk are demanding the following from the Mayor of Cologne:
• Creating a good solution for everyone with positive effects on the entire district and district on Kalker Hauptstrasse.
• Don’t experiment with the fate of the same number of 140 or so retailers, restaurants, their employees and their homeowners.
• Do not put Kalker Hauptstraße at a disadvantage compared to other shopping streets, shopping centers and online shops.
• Make sure you back up your project with scientific support, expertise and appropriate scientific proof of concept
• Integrate IHK, HDE, Cologne Hug and others.
• Make sure that visitors with disabilities, in particular, can find a parking space as quickly as possible and then walk to their desired destination as before.
• And before starting the public relations work, be sure to submit reliable reports from other shopping streets that have been similarly converted.