Osterstraße Urban Space Renewal - Situation Analysis of a Protective Cycling Lane Strip 2015
Osterstraße is a unique situation, first of all because it is a popular and mercantile center in Hamburg-Eimsbüttel, but also because it’s urban planning reveals conflicts between different Hamburg authorities:
The urban space renewal project is subject to financial and political decisions made by various differing authorities. According to the urban profile, “Hamburg the cycling city,” promoting cycling is a political maxim of primary importance. Regarding Osterstraße, this means bicycle traffic will be rerouted to the street along a “bicycle protective strip” — a broken line on the road that separates regular traffic from bike traffic and serves to protect cyclists. But this protective strip is placed only partially along just one side of the road, although the law and other guidelines would allow the cyclist lane to be on both sides of the street. Road users on the other side of the street have to make do with improvised pictograms that indicate bicycle use.
How did this come about? The answer is simple: conflicting, influential special interests. The one-sided protective strip on Osterstraße in fact exposed a culmination of differing perspectives and positions and became a political arena for various Hamburg battling authorities. The transport authorities, district offices, and other actors block planning initiatives and at times even hinder each other intentionally. The transport authority, who has the right to order a protective strip or not, justifies its decision against a two-sided protective strip from the aspect of traffic safety. But are the transport authorities really serving traffic safety or perhaps the special interests of car owners?
This master thesis focuses on the relational (but objective rather than judgmental) analysis of political infighting based on the case of (especially subjective) road traffic safety. We will examine whether the aspect of road safety is a justifiable reason for this decision. Using this grotesque example, we will attempt to open the black box of the negotiation processes of different administrative town councilors who are acting under their own political motives. The result of such negotiation processes affects everyone: The structural shape of our roads, our city.