#131: Bikes in parking spaces, getting the vote, dead birds
And pediatric hospitals are filling up
For all the complaining us 20 Percenters do about the Germans, you have to admit they do some things remarkably well. Beergardens, for example. Playgrounds. And, let’s be honest, Berlin.
Oh, and Weihnachten. While Christmas is usually just one — maybe two — days in places that celebrate it, it lasts six weeks in Germany, if you include the grotty suburban Christmas markets that remain open until mid-January and specialize in sausage, mulled wine and Santa Clauses all past their expiration dates.
It kicks off with the first Advent Sunday (whatever an ‘advent’ is) and is then interspersed with various sub-holidays featuring Santa-like creatures as well as a half-dozen visits to Christmas markets. Weihnachten of course peaks on Dec. 24 but is then kept alive by the period Germans call zwischen den Jahren (between the years), the dead space between Christmas and then New Years when nobody even pretends to work despite not having vacation.
All of this puts Germans in a very non-Teutonic cheerfulness. The only downside to German Christmas is if you happen to be the parent of small children, because kids spend the six weeks over-sugared, under-rested and tempted at every corner — the tantrum trifecta. So if this is you — we at 20 Percent feel for you.
Just a little credit where credit is due. I’ll go back to trashing the Germans next issue. Have a good Second Advent weekend!
P.S.: Feel free to throw some Christmas cheer our way on our Patreon and keep December 22 free — we’re throwing an office Christmas party in Kreuzberg and y’all are invited!
Berlin corona stats for Friday, December 2
New cases in one day: 1,524 (2,067 Tuesday)
Total deaths: 5,135 (+10 over Tuesday)
➡️ 7-day Covid-19 incidence (cases per 100,000): 217.8 (173.2 Tuesday)
➡️ 7-day hospitalization incidence (also per 100,000): 13.2 (12.2 Tuesday)
➡️ Covid-19 ICU patient occupancy: 3.9% (4.6% Tuesday)
Source: Berlin’s corona page
Park wherever you like
Beginning Jan. 1, bikes, kick-scooters, scooter-scooters and motorcycles (rental or otherwise) can be parked in regular parking spaces free of charge, according to RBB24. Berlin hopes to soon prohibit all vehicles except bikes from parking on sidewalks as part of a broader mobility plan that would leave less room for parking cars, mayoral candidate and mobility chief Bettina Jarasch (Die Grüne) said. Since enforcement of any law is — at best — just a hobby in Berlin, it’s unclear who will be forcing non-car vehicles to park on the street and who will respond when car drivers, frustrated at not finding a spot, re-locate vehicles parked in spaces to the sidewalk.
Dual citizenship plus voting for the 20 Percent
Still-mayor Franziska Giffey (SPD) Thursday reiterated a promise to centralize Berlin’s 12 citizenship offices into a single office by Jan. 1, 2024 to boost the number of new Germans created bureaucratically in Berlin each year to 20,000 from about 8,000 currently, according to Tagesspiegel. This as the federal government works on updating citizenship laws to make it easier to become German and even allow applicants to retain their original citizenship. Giffey spoke during a meeting of Berlin’s Abgeordnetenhaus (AGH, or city council) Thursday. The AGH also voted to lower the voting age in the capital to 16 and allow anyone who has lived here for three years to vote (aka: us). The decision is just symbolic as it would require altering Germany’s constitution, though Berlin has pledged to push for the federal change.
Avian flu exception for the zoo?
The Berlin zoo, Europe’s oldest, is hoping it won’t have to kill of its 1,200 birds after avian flu was discovered in a dead hammerkop November 18. The zoo (the one in the west of the city) said it will likely remain closed until the end of the year but has not yet discovered any other cases of the virus (the aquarium is and will remain open). EU guidelines require the destruction of all birds in a facility after a single case is discovered but the zoo has asked for an exception since it would mean not only the deaths of its chickens, ducks and geese but also endangered kiwis, penguins and kagus (I didn’t know what they were either).
Kids being transferred to Brandenburg hospitals
The city-state’s pediatric emergency rooms are at capacity, forcing the transfer of some young patients to hospitals in neighboring Brandenburg, according to RBB24. Hospitals are struggling to react to an increasing number of patients and staff with respiratory syncytial virus as well as corona. Some said the problem is also a lack of trained medical personnel. Expect delays if you have to take your little one to the ER (let’s hope not).
The architect of our favorite airport is dead
Berlin architect Meinhard von Gerkan died Wednesday at 87, according to widespread reports. Even if you don’t know who he is, you probably know who he is — von Gerkan designed the legendary-but-now-defunct Tegel Airport in his 30s and went on (with partner Volkwin Marg) to design the Hauptbahnhof and — yes — BER. To be fair, his Hauptbahnhof design was never fully realized because of cost and timing issues and he was fired from BER in 2012 when construction ran aground.
The Berlin convention center is working together with the city-state’s public utility to install 15,000 solar panels to produce 5 gigawatt hours of electricity annually — the convention center says that’s equivalent to 2,500 two-person households. It will use 80% of the energy locally and feed the remainder into Berlin’s electricity grid.
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