The Bern model is a procedural and planning philosophy in road and traffic planning that has been developed and implemented by the canton of Bern in collaboration with experts over the past 25 years . One result is the encounter zone .
In doing so, people and environmentally friendly transport solutions are sought in the interests of all road users. Roads are no longer only viewed in a technical sense, but comprehensively. Particular attention is paid to the fact that one reschedules without traffic lights and traffic signs and instead increases the attention of all road users to one another.
Many streets in towns and cities no longer fully meet the requirements placed on them. Every user group, i.e. vehicle drivers, cyclists and pedestrians, public transport, residents, shops and traders, has its own requirements for the design of the road space, which is increasingly leading to conflicts. These manifest themselves in the form of more difficult crossing possibilities, decreasing traffic safety , increasing loss of time and traffic jams , increasing noise and air pollution, decreasing sales of shops up to neglect and sluming of the adjacent properties. On most of the roads built according to technical considerations, motor vehicle traffic dominates the townscape. This affects local life and encounters, but also the local economy.
For a long time, new traffic problems arising from the increase in vehicle traffic were countered with an expansion of the road infrastructure suitable for vehicles. In the 1970s, among other things, the sharp increase in the number of accidents prompted people to think about compatibility and how to deal with the street for the first time. This must no longer be geared solely towards the needs of drivers and public transport. Transport solutions are required that equally include the concerns of people, the settlement, the environment and all road users. Road spaces should therefore not only be repaired in a technical, but rather in a comprehensive sense. However, time does not stand still. When redeveloping and redesigning streets, free space must also be created for future settlement and traffic development. Repairing and creating reserves - the potential for conflict is obvious. The Bern model relies on the early detection of conflicts. It combines innovative solutions and learning from experience with systematic scientific impact checks. The newer street redesigns planned according to the Bern model show parallels to shared space in terms of procedural and planning philosophy . Individual redesigns - especially Schwarzenburgstrasse in the center of Köniz - are also prime examples of the shared space approach with regard to the specific structural solution.
The transport policy principles of the Canton of Bern aim to align settlement development with the transport infrastructure , especially the public transport network. Traffic problems are analyzed and addressed holistically - in the interplay of public transport, individual motorized traffic and pedestrian and bicycle traffic. Mobility strategies and corridor studies serve as guidelines for the development of the expansion programs, the traffic, operational and design concepts and the projects.
Instruments for the concrete implementation build the bridge from the transport policy principles to the projects and their implementation. Limits are decisive. The technically possible capacity - or even a higher demand - is not the only decisive criterion. The decisive factors are the load capacities that result from the mix of requirements of the road users, but also from those of the surroundings and the environment. Such "supply-oriented" street planning creates a comprehensible and transparent basis for discussion for a dialogue with the population. The transport, operational and design concept is an important instrument here.
The population is involved at an early stage in the participatory planning process . The participation makes it possible to define the goals together and develop the project in stages. Conflicts come to the table in good time and are fully discussed. Learning from one another, opening up to new things, taking steps towards one another, all of this ultimately leads to the necessary consensus. The "control loop", according to which our actions are based on experience, is abandoned. Further developments are possible.
The Bern model introduces a new understanding of roles . Those responsible and the planners are no longer just experts. You also moderate processes, are advocates, project managers, partners, colleagues, visionaries, callers in the desert ... and last but not least, guardians of the room for maneuver of future generations. Creativity, trust-generating openness and the ability to respond to concerns are required. The central requirement is the willingness to undertake planning processes with an unpredictable outcome.
On the one hand, the effectiveness check provides an account of the achievement of objectives to the political authorities. On the other hand, it serves as a technical review of the project carried out. What has proven itself, what is good, what needs to be changed, where is there scope for the next projects? Learning from experience is the professional credo. The flat crossing in the center of Köniz and the shared-space- like approach are ultimately the result of such impact controls over the past 20 years.
Street redesigns based on the Bern model
Schwarzenburgstrasse, Köniz (2005): The Kantonsstrasse shows a high volume of traffic between the two wholesalers with 17,000 cars every day, intensive bus traffic and heavy pedestrian flows. A 300 m long section was integrated into the 30 km / h zones on the surrounding municipal roads. Pedestrians can cross the street at any point. The pedestrian crossings have been removed. A 2 m wide multi-purpose strip in the middle of the street makes it easier to cross. The effectiveness check shows that the traffic situation has improved significantly for all road users. In particular, the number of accidents has decreased by around a third.
Kalchackerstrasse, Bremgarten near Bern (2008): The Kantonsstrasse in the center of Bremgarten has 2,000 cars per day, relatively little individual traffic, but plenty of bus traffic. In order to better cope with the many crossing pedestrians, especially the schoolchildren and the senior citizens of the old people's home, a meeting zone with speed 20 and pedestrian precedence was set up on Kalchackerstrasse. Since then, the children have been respected much better and also show greater attention.
Dorfstrasse, Neuenegg (2003): The municipality and a wholesaler created a space 80 m in length between the new shop center and the cantonal road (6,000 vehicles per day 50 km / h in general). This created a strong need for extensive crossing possibilities, which a single pedestrian crossing does not meet. The street was given a red surface in this area and pedestrian crossings were dispensed with. Thanks to the close cooperation with the school and the traffic instructor, the school children are coping well with the situation.
Seftigenstrasse, Wabern near Bern (1997): 21,000 vehicles per day. Since the redesign, private transport and trams have shared one lane. The space was used for cycle lanes and a multi-purpose lane in the middle of the street. Since then, direct crossing has become commonplace despite the pedestrian crossing that still exists. The driving speed during the day is around 35 km / h despite a top speed of 50 km / h.
Bernstrasse, Zollikofen (1992–1998): On Bernstrasse, which is heavily used by 20,000 vehicles per day, various studies were carried out to stabilize traffic and reduce air pollution. As a by-product, so to speak, there was the fundamentally great need for two-dimensional crossing possibilities. Additional pedestrian crossings are a poor answer to this need from an air hygiene point of view. The multi-purpose lane, on the other hand, which premiered in Zollikofen and was primarily intended as a waiting room for traffic turning left, was increasingly used by pedestrians to cross the street, taking advantage of gaps in the river. The result: significantly fewer stops and thus a 20 to 25% reduction in air pollution.
The Bern model is a procedural and planning philosophy based on the five key elements of transport policy principles, instruments for concrete implementation, a participatory planning process, a new understanding of the role of the planners and impact controls. It basically approaches the development of solutions with an open mind. The shared space approach has similar key elements. In contrast to the Bern model, however, Shared Space has a specific approach in mind from the start of the process. This includes the planar design of the street space and the absence of traffic lights and signs. The resulting uncertainty is intended to induce road users to make more eye contact, understanding and consideration. Both approaches pursue the same goals: a high level of coexistence among road users, good compatibility with traffic and a holistic view of public space.
Criticism and evaluation
As with all new approaches to solving inner-city traffic problems, the Bern model must also be carefully checked to determine whether the desired goals are actually being achieved. The number of studies and investigations of a scientific nature is rather small with this rather local planning philosophy. Using the example of Seftigenstrasse in Wabern, the University of Bern examined the effectiveness of the redesign according to the Bern model in 2000. It was found that the main goal, the reduction of the separation effect, could be achieved to a large extent. However, there was no significant change in the modal split or a reduction in motorized transport . In the event that the motorized vehicle should continue to increase, the effectiveness of the entire conversion will be jeopardized.
- U. Haefeli: The “Bern Model”. Environmentally responsible planning processes using the example of Seftigenstrasse in Wabern / Köniz. In: Ruth Kaufmann-Hayoz, Ueli Haefeli (Ed.): Greening Processes in Economy and Administration, Proceedings of the Symposium “Environmentally Responsible Action”, June 4th to 7th and September 7th, 1996 in Bern. (= General ecology put up for discussion. Volume 3/4). IKAÖ (University of Bern - Interfactural Coordination Office for General Ecology), Bern 1997, ISBN 3-906456-14-5 , pp. 96-105.
- R. Defila, A. Di Giulio, M. Drilling: Guide to general scientific propaedeutics for interdisciplinary ecological courses. (= General ecology put up for discussion. Volume 4). IKAÖ, Bern 2000, ISBN 3-906456-24-2 .
- Video on the subject at Youtube.com
- Information on the Bern model at bve.be.ch
- Interface Political Studies, 2007: “Impact analysis of the restructuring of the Köniz Center”, Bern