Frank Hansen has taken on an unusual job within the BMW Group: he is trying to convince the citizens of Berlin to give up their cars. The idea is to free up space for the people in the city – without them being any less mobile.
Hello Mr Hansen, you are responsible for the “New Mobility Berlin” project.
As far as the BMW Group is concerned, yes. But there are many other parties involved in a project of this size that is aimed at an entire district with around 350,000 people. Not just businesses and the local authorities, but also scientific and research institutions, for example.
What is the project actually about?
The BMW Group has already initiated or has been involved in a wide variety of projects in different urban centres in the past number of years. New Mobility Berlin is one of them. All those projects are aimed at identifying the pain points within a city and then developing solutions. One of the most pressing tasks in Berlin and pretty much all other urban centres in the world is to make mobility more efficient and sustainable and thus to improve quality of life.
In Berlin, space is at a premium ...
Redensification in the inner-city quarters has amplified the problem. People need space to live in, but the number of cars blocking this space is still growing.
But people need their cars!
Yes, some do, but certainly not all of them. Maybe a lot of people are just used to having a car? According to studies carried out by the renowned Karlsruhe Institute of Technology, around a third of all car owners in Berlin do not need their own vehicle in their day-to-day lives. They use public transport or cycle. If we provide additional mobility services such as car sharing for these people, so that a car is available to them when they really need it, we can use public areas more efficiently and reclaim a lot of space.
What do you want to get across to people?
We want to inspire and demonstrate that most people do not need to own a car. In our “Your Summer Fleet” campaign we offer 50 people from the Charlottenburg-Wilmersdorf district in Berlin to swap their own car for a package with different mobility vouchers for one month. They can utilise the mobility services of more than 20 providers, from car rental and public transport to e-scooters and bicycles. Success has exceeded all expectations: 30 per cent of people have actually given up their own cars afterwards.
And all that without taking the conventional regulatory measures, for example making parking space more expensive.
In many quarters in this district, parking space is not yet publicly managed. Charging for the use of scarce street space can, of course, also be an effective instrument for shaping urban mobility in a growing city. However, other people are responsible for measures of this type. We just want to come up with innovative ideas; politicians and authorities must change the conditions we are all operating in. This includes, for example, reserving parking spaces for car sharing services. At least until we have effective car park management in place.
To what extent do the experiences you have gained over the past few years also translate to other districts or even other urban centres?
The concept is so exciting and successful that it is being offered in the district of Tempelhof-Schöneberg in Berlin this year, which is also home to approximately 350,000 people. Similar projects are currently being developed for other German cities. And they are all coordinated via our joint Urban Mobility platform. Interest is also growing at the international level every year – because the objectives are the same everywhere: use the scarce public space in the densely built-up inner cities more efficiently and intelligently link up the different modes of transport. For many people, their car will still be the preferred means of transport – but not necessarily in the inner cities.