Düsseldorf loses patience as Pokémon shuts down bridge

The city of Düsseldorf has pleaded with the makers of Pokémon Go to shut down gaming locations on a bridge which has become so packed by players that traffic has been blocked off.

Düsseldorf loses patience as Pokémon shuts down bridge
Pokémon hunters on the Girardet-Brücke. Photo: DPA

So many Pokémon hunters have descended on Girardet Bridge in the capital of North Rhine-Westphalia (NRW) that authorities have re-routed traffic away from the bridge since the end of July.

Up until this point, the city's strategy has been to appease the hungry gamers, providing portable toilets and had even discussed providing them with a food truck, the Rheinische Post reports.

But now it seems authorities have had enough.

After locals complained about the noise, city mayor Thomas Geisel visited the bridge on Wednesday to get a better overview of the situation and broke the news that, come the end of the school holidays, the fun would be over.

The city has now asked game maker Niantic to shut down three of the four so-called Pokéstops on the bridge which are the cause of the huge masses of gamers.

In making such a request, Düsseldorf is following in the footsteps of neighbouring Cologne, which asked the company to shut down a Pokéstop at Cologne Cathedral after crowds there became an irritation to the city’s main tourist attraction.

On the other hand, Düsseldorf has recently embraced the world-wide gaming phenomenon by introducing a Pokémon train which helps hunters of the animated monsters catch 'em all via public transport.

Firms ban Pokémon Go in workplace

Volkswagen is one of several major German firms which have banned employees from playing Pokémon Go while working in their factories, Bild reported on Wednesday.

In an internal email to its 70,000 employees, the Wolfsburg-based car company said that playing the hit game while at work would increase the chance of an accident due to “lack of attention” and “distraction”, according to the tabloid.

One VW employee told the tabloid: “Almost everyone here plays it. Just yesterday I caught three Pokémon in the workplace. A few people are annoyed at the news – it wasn’t bad for work, but in the end the bosses are probably right.”

Steel producer ThyssenKrupp has also barred its employees from playing the game during working hours, as has the security company Kötter.

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Germany’s Scheffelbrücke: Everything you need to know about the ‘world’s most expensive bridge’

Germany's Scheffelbrücke might not seem like much to look at, but by some accounts it is the most expensive bridge in the world. Here’s what you need to know.

Germany's Scheffelbrücke: Everything you need to know about the ‘world’s most expensive bridge’
The Scheffelbrücke in Baden-Württemburg isn't known for its astounding beauty or engineering prowess - but it is known for its price tag. Photo: Heinz Seehagel, Creative Commons.

If you’re travelling near the Swiss border, you might come across the Scheffelbrücke – a quiet, two-lane bridge over the Radolfzeller Aach in Baden-Württemburg. 

By bridge standards, the 20-metre concrete construction seems relatively unremarkable – until you take a look at the engraved sign on the side which quotes the price tag. 

A sign on the bridge references the incredible price of the bridge: 1,520,940,901,926,024 Deutschmarks. 

That’s 1,500 trillion marks. 

Why is the Scheffelbrücke Germany’s most expensive bridge – and why is it so drab?

While Germany has the money and the landscape to have some expensive bridges, that over the Aach hardly rivals the Golden Gate, London Bridge or Sydney Harbour for elegance or ingenuity. 

The bridge, completed in 1923, takes the name of Joseph Victor von Scheffel, a German writer who will forever be associated with the glorified concrete slab. 

While one might suspect pork barrelling or crafty accounting as a reason for the astonishing cost – or perhaps a trick to reel in the tourists to the otherwise unassuming village of Singen – the cost is in fact real.

The high price is a consequence of the out of control post-World War One inflation which hit Germany, where money almost completely lost its value. 

A sign for the bridge reveals its extortionate building costs. Photo: Heinz Seehagel, Creative Commons.

Local authorities, wanting to boost the economy, signed off on the bridge as an infrastructure project. 

As a consequence, some local workers presumably became millionaires as a consequence – although there was perhaps little meaning to the idea of being a millionaire when a billion would only buy you a concrete bridge. 

Fortunately, Germany was able to bring inflation under control and wheelbarrows full of money were no longer required to purchase basic things.

And almost a century later, when not taking wacky inflation into account, Germany’s ‘most expensive bridge in the world’ no longer has that title. 

That goes to the Oakland Bay Bridge in San Francisco (no, not the Golden Gate but the other one), which cost 6.3 billion US dollars – or roughly 5.2 billion euro  – to build. 

The Oakland Bay Bridge however goes for eight kilometres and possesses some of the aesthetic qualities which one would expect from the most expensive bridge in the world.