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#189: More bike path drama, the next train strike, Streetview is back-ish
Plus a boat below that allows our fish to breathe
Hey 20 Percent!
Falling asleep to the sound of gentle thunder and rain is the grown-up equivalent of climbing into your parents’ bed as a kid. I fell asleep easily and soundly last night. And waking up to the continued sound of rain had a comforting sense of continuity.
I’ve always thought sleep was weird. We all do this one activity together at about the same time every day and that collective activity is: doing nothing. Its collective nature means that going against the grain — staying up late or even all night — gives it a special sweetness. At least 10% of the Berlin feeling (whatever that is) is made up of this sweetness.
But enough of me trying to be Heidegger or Kant or any of those other philosophers my over-educated European friends seem to know so much about but I only know from oblique references in Tarantino movies. Let me get on to the news.
Thanks for being part of my extended sleeping family last night.
Have a good weekend,
You can’t just stop something in Germany
This is Germany and somewhere in Germany’s constitution it says that everything — every minute thing — has to be complicated. Berlin’s new government is now learning this after our new traffic czar, CDU pol Manja Schreiner, earlier this month announced a halt to all new bike paths in Berlin. Ignoring the desperate need for more and safer bike paths, many of the new paths were deep into planning and just calling them off is kompliziert. Take one planned for Schönhauser Allee: The contract has already been awarded, according to the Morgenpost (paywall), so halting it means the construction company would get all the money and we would get nothing. Another, in Reinickendorf, already received €185,361.00 in federal funds, according to RBB, so calling it off means we would not only be not left without a bike path, Berlin would have to return the money to the federal government. Of course traffic senator Schreiner was just trying to be a good conservative politician, but it shows she’s not very good at Germaning. Mayor Kai Wegner (CDU) realized this and used a Spiegel interview to pedal into the storm, saying it’s not a big deal, he also wants more bike paths, but not “bike paths that intentionally slow down cars.” 🤮
Unless you’re a union and it’s trains
Looks like we may get the über-strike after all. Earlier this year, train employee union EVG staged the mega-strike, shutting down all train (and Berlin S-Bahn) traffic as well as most air traffic for a day. They then announced an even longer strike — the über-strike®— but it was called off at the last minute. But EVG members are now voting on an unlimited strike after wage talks again broke down — it’s unclear when the vote will be complete and when any additional strikes could happen, but probably not this month. EVG wants €650 more per month with a 12-month contract. Deutsche Bahn is offering about €400 more a month and a 27-month contract.
Being a 20 Percent subscriber is not like being in a union, but then we also can’t ruin your commute. Yet.
And certainly not Google Streetview
Datenschutz (data privacy) competes with Schienenersatzverkehr (bus replacement service) as my most-hated German word. But Datenschutz is so powerful that it forced Google to abandon Streetview in Germany after launching in 2010. To be honest, it was the one time I celebrated Datenschutz — why do Google and Amazon and Shell always have to win? But RBB says Google is now updating Streetview in Berlin and Brandenburg. Anyone who previously had their house pixelated out of privacy concerns will have to again appeal. The updated photos will go online in July. I’m going to have our building pixelated this time as a joke. Oh, sorry, ironically, because: Berlin.
Our new government is jettisoning even more pedestrian infrastructure in Berlin, but this is one you probably don’t know about: A thing known as the Barnes Dance, or scramble intersection, will be removed from the Friedrichstr./Kochstr. intersection after 22 years, according to Tagesspiegel. The unique crossing gives pedestrians green in all directions, allowing people to cross diagonally. I grew up in Denver knowing it as the “Denver walk” because Henry Barnes, one of the inventors, lived there and it’s used widely there. The current government says no one really knows about it so why bother. Tschüssi, scramble intersection!
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