New traffic rules on Germany’s roads: This means more protection for cyclists, says Federal Transport Minister Scheuer.
Cycling is to become safer with the new set of rules – and parking in the bike lane more expensive Photo: Alexander Heinl/dpa
Wrong parking and other traffic violations will become more expensive starting Tuesday. Stopping in the second row will cost 55 euros instead of the current 15 euros, and if other road users are obstructed it will be 70 euros plus a point in the Flensburg traffic offenders’ register. The same applies to stopping on sidewalks and bike paths. In future, there will be a general ban on stopping on protective lanes, which separate bicycle and car traffic with dashed white lines. Until now, vehicles have been allowed to stop there for up to three minutes. General parking violations will cost 25 euros instead of 15 euros.
These and other changes will come into force one day after the new Road Traffic Regulations (StVO) are published in the Federal Law Gazette on Monday. "The new rules strengthen the most vulnerable road users in particular," says German Transport Minister Andreas Scheuer (CSU). "We are creating more protection for cyclists and advantages for car sharing and electrically powered vehicles." In February, the Bundesrat had approved the bill from the Federal Ministry of Transport with some amendments. A speed limit for highways and the standard speed of 30 kilometers per hour in cities, which some federal states had demanded, could not be pushed through.
New are fines for unauthorized parking in a parking space for e-cars, which will cost 55 euros. Parking vehicles in narrow or blind spots, such as on sharp curves, will cost 35 euros instead of the previous 15 euros. To ensure that parking spaces can be allocated for car sharing with legal certainty in the future, a new symbol will be introduced showing a car divided in the middle and four figures.
The new StVO also increases the penalties for speeding offenders. If the speed limit exceeds 21 kilometers per hour in built-up areas and 26 kilometers per hour outside built-up areas, the driver will be banned from driving for one month. Anyone who fails to form a rescue lane or drive through it after an accident will in future not only be fined but also be banned from driving for one month.
New rules also apply to cyclists
A new feature for cyclists is the green arrow at traffic lights, which allows them to turn right on red. The new StVo stipulates that car drivers must keep a distance of 1.5 meters when overtaking cyclists, pedestrians and e-scooters, and 2 meters outside of places. Previously, the StVO only required a "sufficient" distance.
However, traffic courts had already established the minimum distance of 1.5 meters as appropriate in the past. In the future, there will be a traffic sign prohibiting the overtaking of two-wheelers, which will be erected in particularly narrow places. Trucks weighing more than 3.5 tons will only be allowed to turn right at walking speed, otherwise they will face 70 euros and a point in Flensburg.
In the view of Stefan Gelbhaar, the cycling expert of the Green parliamentary group in the Bundestag, the amendment does not meet the requirements of modern pedestrian and bicycle traffic. "Road safety for all road users is still far from being a priority," he says. For example, he says, there has been a failure to ensure that turning assistants are installed on trucks and buses. These devices warn drivers when people are in their blind spots and can save their lives.
"The installation of bicycle lanes remains expensive and difficult," Gelbhaar criticizes. "The amendment is distrust of decision-makers on the ground turned into law." At best, the increase in fines would make sense. This would at least mean that the municipalities would no longer have to pay more when they punish traffic violations.