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Alexanderplatz: How different transport systems and mobility forms work together

Alexanderplatz is an iconic touristic, employment and business center in Berlin. The magnetism generated by the TV tower that can be seen almost from every corner of the city, attracts visitors and locals from all around the world, it is a must in every guide from Berlin.

To satisfy this enormous demand, Alexanderplatz it is extremely well connected with the public transportation net, including S-Bahn, U-Bahn, Tram, Bus and Regional services and it is served by adequate bike lanes. The S-bahn station it is served by the lines S3, S5, S7, S9 and the Regional services RE1, RE2, RE7 and RB14, being these part of the core of the public transportation system, providing accessibility from the suburbs. The U-bahn lines that approach the station are the U2, U5 and U8, lines that complemented by surface services of Trams (M2, M4, M5 and M6) and buses (100, 200, 245, 248 and 300) provide the local connection.

The intensive commercial usage combined with the continues presences of itinerant markets, correlates intensive pedestrian needs, being these the main players of the groundlevel use. This situation exposes a conflict between pedestrians and the needs of surface services reaching to the node Alexanderplatz for a proper integration to the rest of the modes.

To overcome this conflict a bold decision was taken after 1997, Trams would integrate with the pedestrian and cyclist zone. There are several grounds for this policy, guided modes integrate smoothly to the landscape, providing a clean and quiet accessibility alternative, and with the proper signalling and with the adequate speed the risk of accidents is in the order of the average crossing in berlin, despite the presence of inattentive bystanders like tourists.

In recent years a new trend in mobility has arised all around the world and Berlin was not the exception, e-scooters are flooding the cities. This new mode is in the struggle of finding not only its place where to circulate but also where to park.

Particularly in the surrounds of Alexanderplatz the parking of e-scooters in already busy sidewalks where space it is in constant dispute between pedestrians and commercial usages, is becoming an increasingly problematic. The lack of an appropriate normative and fiscalisation tools hinders the control of this practice. As a consequence pedestrian are forced to an uncomfortable walk and are encouraged to “invade” the streets, increasing the chances of getting involved in accidents. By the other hand, as a response of the occupation of the sidewalks it is often seen a vandalization of these new vehicles, that can be understanded as an act of resistance.

In a way this new conflict is helping to visualize the imbalance of space assignation in certain zones. As it was seen in plenty cities where bike lanes were built in the sidewalks, a confrontation between pedestrians and cyclist emerged. Instead it might be time of joining efforts and confronting with the main inefficient space user, the car.

Tomas Daels