Markus Herrmann, host of Gästeliste Geisterbahn, explores Berlin
For Porsche, Markus Herrmann tests the mobility level of European metropolises. First up: Berlin

Mobility in Berlin: Large Playground with Little Concept

About #nextvisions on mobility in Germany’s capital

We sent podcast host and self-proclaimed “expert on everything” Markus Herrmann on a road trip across Europe to find out how cities embrace the future of urban space. , a city that seems to struggle to find a vision for its own future.

Compared to most other European metropolises, Berlin feels like it has a lack of concrete goals and a unified vision for the future of urban mobility. Nevertheless, experiments are being carried out diligently. Between e-scooters and car sharing, you can find almost everything on the Berlin playground.

With about 3.7 million inhabitants and stretching across 892 square kilometers, Berlin is the largest and most populous city in Germany. It forms the center of the metropolitan region Berlin/Brandenburg, which is home to around 6 million people.

At around 86 percent, Berlin has the highest share of people walking, using public transport or cycling to work compared to other European capitals.

You can find out more about mobility in Berlin in the Urban Mobility Index.

Markus Herrmann in Berlin
Markus Herrmann in Berlin

After all the upheavals and rapid developments that Berlin has undergone in recent decades, the German capital now wants to grow into a Smart City. Although the Smart City Berlin project has developed a strategy for this in various areas, from housing to mobility, few specific goals are to be found. For example, regarding mobility, it merely states that Berlin should become the “city of short distances,” suggesting that ridesharing and electric mobility should be expanded while urban logistics should be optimized.

More specific goals are highlighted in the Kursbuch der Berliner Verkehrspolitik (Course Book of Berlin Transport Policy). It details a number of individual measures that are to be implemented by 2025. Since its launch in 2011, around 300 junctions have been redesigned to be wheelchair accessible, the bicycle infrastructure has been expanded, and a public bike rental system has been introduced.

Rental bikes, E-Scooters and much more — Berlin offers a variety of mobility solutions

A glance at the Urban Mobility Index reveals an interesting contrast within Berlin’s public transportation. While the city is among world leaders in terms of the frequency of stops, it is one of the last when it comes to the density of stops. In order to make public transport smarter, Berlin’s public transport company launched the ridesharing service “BerlKönig” in cooperation with the start-up ViaVan. This four-year project began operating in 2018 following a special permit from the Berlin Transport Senate. “BerlKönig” works like a shared taxi that’s called via app and brings passengers from around 5000 collection points in Berlin to their destination 24 hours a day, seven days a week. The initial fleet of around 150 vehicles is to be restructured to completely electric vehicles by the end of 2020. If the pilot project continues to run successfully, the fleet will be expanded to 300 vehicles. BerlKönig has been tested extensively in the past few years on the streets of Berlin, and has become one of the top mobility services under Berliners — however, it’s currently unclear if the pilot project will continue.

Booking a BerlKönig ride

To use BerlKönig, all you have to do is register in the app. Another popular ridesharing provider in Berlin is Clevershuttle.

There is no mobility concept you won’t find in Berlin. For rental bikes, there is Nextbike, Mobike, LimeBike and Jump by Uber. For e-scooters, there is Lime, Voi, Tier and Circ.

After ceasing operations in Berlin in November 2019, the mint green e-scooters from COUP will be back on the streets of Berlin in May — powered by Tier Mobility. You can also find red scooters by Emmy in the city.

Those who want to explore Berlin’s history, as well as some of its unique mobility offerings, have the chance to explore the Berlin Wall Trail by bicycle. The Wall Trail is an approximately 160-kilometer-long bicycle and walking path that follows the former course of the Berlin Wall around West Berlin. While the route passes various attractions in the city center, such as the Brandenburg Gate, the Berlin Reichstag and Checkpoint Charlie, it also leads through numerous natural landscapes in the surrounding area. Untouched nature has been able to grow where the so-called death strip ran along the Wall. The terrible history of the Wall is a thing of the past — what remains is the unique green strip.

If you fancy a boat trip, you can use one of the ferries in Berlin’s local transport system. The longest ferry route is the F10, which runs 4.4 kilometers across the lake Great Wannsee.

A slightly different statistic: Berlin is the only European city with more museums than rainy days. While there are 99 rainy days per year on average, there are around 170 museums open.

Those who are also interested in history, as well as classic German cuisine, can visit “Zur letzten Instanz,” the oldest restaurant in Berlin. Zur letzten Instanz is almost 400 years old. It has been located in the Waisenstraße since 1621 and has served many prominent guests, including Napoleon.

In Berlin, you don’t need to travel outside the city gates for a trip into the countryside. No other European metropolis offers more inner-city forests, parks and lawns. The figures are impressive: around a third of Berlin’s total area is green and wooded, the streets are lined with around 440,000 trees, and there are 2,500 parks and green spaces where you can relax. And, incidentally, the “Gardens of the World” park in the Marzahn district also has the largest Chinese garden in Europe.

Berlin: Playground of mobility visions

In the upcoming weeks, I will be sharing more information here about mobility solutions in the metropolises of Europe. Stay tuned!

Markus Herrmann is a blogger, author and member of the successful podcast “Gästeliste Geisterbahn”. For Porsche, he is testing the mobility level of the Back 2 Tape metropolises in Europe.

The project “Back 2 Tape” is a cooperation between the Porsche Newsroom and music journalist Niko Backspin. It follows the tracks of hip hop in Europe. All further information on this project can be found in the Porsche Newsroom.

An important note: Markus’ trip through Europe as well as “Back 2 Tape” were produced before the outbreak of COVID-19. Porsche, Backspin and the involved agencies and artists are aware of their social responsibility and advise against such a trip at this time out of consideration for the health and well-being of all people.

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There’s more to Porsche than sports cars // #NextVisions is a platform about smart technologies and the people that drive our digital journey.

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