An urban dream is becoming a reality
Carrying the Radbahn-project into real space
Reallabor Radbahn wants to rethink urban space. The elevated railway line along the underground line 1 (U1) in Berlin is a largely forgotten space. Against the backdrop of ever-growing urban challenges, such as the traffic turn (Verkehrswende) and sustainable urban development, this space is meant to be made more tangible to the public and experienced in a completely new way. Reallabor Radbahn's mission is to conceptually develop this project and realize it as a prototype on a test site stretching over a couple of hundred meters. Here, the holistically planned Radbahn concept is presented on a smaller scale.
© paper planes
The idea and intellectual basis for this project are the extensive reflections that have been carried out since 2015 by paper planes e.V. In their book, Radbahn Berlin: Future Visions for the Ecomobile City, the masterplan of an approximately 9 km long cycle path, leading from Bahnhof Zoo in the West of the city to Oberbaumbrücke in the East, partly underneath and partly along the U1, is presented.
In 2019, the Radbahn vision turned into a feasible follow-up project: Reallabor Radbahn. In the same year, the project team applied together with Berlin’s Senate Administration for funding through the federal program "National projects of urban development". The program supports conceptual and structural projects that aim for an exceptionally high urban visibility, emphasize participation processes, and showcase great innovation potential. The application was successful, and Reallabor Radbahn secured funding by the federal government and Berlin's state until the end of 2023. The dream of getting Radbahn off the paper and onto the street can become a reality - in the form of a real-world lab. In cooperation with the public and Berlin's city administration, a bicycle park will be created and serve as a space to breathe and decelerate.
Reallabor Radbahn’s building blocks
As is typical for most infrastructure projects, Reallabor Radbahn will be subject to a "reality check" executed by the Senate Department for the Environment, Transport and Climate Protection in the form of a technical feasibility study. The guiding question thereby reads: "Which traffic-related variants and conditions allow the construction of Radbahn?"
On the section from Kottbusser Tor to Oberbaumbrücke, two variants will be examined in terms of construction and traffic parameters, practicality, costs, and environmental compatibility. The first variant analyses the original Radbahn concept of having a cycle track underneath the viaduct. The second variant represents an evolution of the original idea. It will transform one entire lane, now reserved for cars, into street space for pedestrians and cyclists.
The technical feasibility study is supplemented by a scientific component that Reallabor Radbahn, in cooperation with external experts, combines into a potential and risk analysis for the entire route which is of less technical nature. Looking through the lenses of different topics such as mobility, ecology, or sociology, the effects which Radbahn can have on the city and its inhabitants are investigated. This analysis shows where to spot opportunities but also where in what form to expect challenges. Questions to be answered through this approach are, for example:
- How can Radbahn promote the traffic turn?
- How can Radbahn help to increase the modal share of cycling in Berlin?
- What can neighbors, small businesses, and car drivers get out of Radbahn?
- In what way can Radbahn design road space more ecologically?
All findings and results are summarised in a final report at the end of the project to provide recommendations for similar cycling and urban development ideas and real-world labs implemented in other cities or contexts.
The results of the studies mentioned above will be displayed to the public on an interactive test site in the summer of 2022. Within this real-world lab, people have the chance to experience the prospective Radbahn consciously and test its elements in a playful manner. Different flooring materials, light systems, street furniture, or recreational areas are only a few examples of what will be set up here to be explored by everyone. Such a field test helps form a basis of political decision-making and draws up concrete recommendations for implementing the Radbahn route. Moreover, the test site serves as an instrument that connects residents to the neighborhood's physical changes and each other. It thereby aims to foster a sense of community ownership.
Citizen participation – together with communications – is a crucial component of Reallabor Radbahn's strategy. The idea of collaborative placemaking shapes the project's overall approach. Reallabor Radbahn wants to create an accessible urban space, inspired and cultivated by the community that uses it. Through active participatory events, stimulating campaigns, and a multifaceted project advisory board, constructive dialogue between different stakeholders is encouraged from an early stage. This way, different perspectives can be captured and translated into the construction of the test site and the entire route. In the end, all interested parties, be it long-established Kreuzberg or Schöneberg residents, newcomers, or tourists, should play a role in designing the public space on their doorstep.
Who is behind it all?
Jeanette Werner is the project manager of Reallabor Radbahn. She holds all the threads in her hand that are necessary for handling planning design, the daily business, and managing the team.
Johanna Schelle takes on the role as communications manager and press spokesperson's role to inform different stakeholder groups about planning processes and events early.
Dr. Silke Domasch coordinates the study topics and, as an expert on participation, facilitates diverse discussions and dialogues with all stakeholders.
Elisabeth Broermann develops the architectural and urban planning concept for Radbahn – and thus puts the study and participation results into practice. Her work predominantly focuses on the planning and implementation of the test site.
Jan-Christoph Brylla, a working student and good mood guardian, advises on legal matters and, as an all-round expert, helps with administrative processes.
Sascha Uhlig ensures that IT structures and processes are running and thus helps the team keep cool.
Matthias Heskamp, Perttu Ratilainen and Maximilian Hoor have, as the managing directors, done the groundwork for the current project status and always keep an eye on the big picture to steer the project in the right direction.
As a publicly funded project, Reallabor Radbahn aims to understand as many viewpoints as possible, respect opinions, and involve them in implementing the project.
For this reason, an interdisciplinary advisory board supports Reallabor Radbahn since September 2020. We consider ourselves very lucky to have won a wide range of experts from cycling interest groups and the fields of transport planning, mobility research, urban planning, and architecture, as well as representatives of social initiatives.
Above all, the advisory board's aim and task are to ensure our project's constructive and critical supervision, help the team thoroughly consider set goals, incorporate different levels of analysis, and foster networking with other actors. Lastly, meetings should facilitate synergies between the individuals and their respective organizations.
The following experts give fresh impetus to our project:
- Wolfgang Aichinger, Agora Verkehrswende
- Dr. Laila Atrache Younes, Quartiersmanagement Zentrum Kreuzberg / Oranienstraße
- Catherine Bischoff, Factory Berlin
- Nada Bretfeld, Kiezanker & Stadtprojekte e.V.
- Peter Broytman, SenUVK Berlin
- Dr. Stefan Carsten, futurologist
- Melissa Gómez, ADFC
- Tobias Griesmeier, TIER Mobility
- Veit Hannemann, Nachbarschaftshaus Urbanstraße e.V
- Andreas Krüger, Belius
- Dr. Nina Pawlicki, Natural Building Lab | TU Berlin
- Ania Pilipenko, Holzmarkt
- Carolin Ritter, VCD
- Ulrike Saade, Velokonzept
- Prof. Dr. Oliver Schwedes, Integrierte Verkehrsplanung | TU Berlin
Without the extraordinary dedication of the members of paper planes e.V., the Reallabor Radbahn project would not exist. In addition to initiating new projects, they continue to develop the overall concept of Radbahn and support with their professional input.
From the very beginning, the Radbahn team has pursued a philosophy of cooperation with city administration and the political level. Thanks to close exchange and linking unique planning competencies, we want to set new standards to collaborate between project members and the administrative level. Thus, we are all the more grateful for the existing political will of the district authority of Friedrichshain-Kreuzberg to have assigned a bicycle traffic planner to our project.
News & Activities
Have you got any questions about the Radbahn project? Our team is happy to answer all of them. For this purpose, we are organizing regular meeting slots that can be booked online. Visit radbahn.appointlet.com for dates, registration, and further technicalities.
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Reallabor Radbahn is funded by