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LIVING IN GERMANY

German city mayor plans to hike up parking charges by 600 percent

The mayor of the southern German town of Tübingen has taken a radical step to discourage people with large cars from driving into the centre.

German city mayor plans to hike up parking charges by 600 percent
Mayor Boris Palmer rides his bicycle through the centre of Tübingen on November 12th, 2019. Photo: picture alliance/dpa | Tom Weller

According to the regional Stuttgarter Zeitung, Boris Palmer – who is also a member of the Green party – plans to hike parking charges from €30 to €180 per year in an attempt to free the picturesque town from congestion.

If the plans come into force, the top parking fee will apply to cars with combustion engines weighing more than 1800kg and electric cars weighing more than 2000kg. Owners of smaller cars will pay €120 a year.

Social security recipients will pay half price, and there will be other exceptions for disabled people and carers who are dependent on their cars to carry out their jobs.

Palmer initially proposed to raise the top fee to €360, but his plans met with opposition from officials on the city climate planning committee. At €180, however, he has managed to gain a consensus. 

Announcing the proposals, the mayor explained that his aim was to convince the majority of people to use public transport when visiting or travelling around Tübingen. 

READ ALSO: How you can travel for free in parts of Germany

“There should be a noticeable difference between the fees small city cars and big sport utility vehicles have to pay, which actually aren’t needed in the city,” he said. 

The revenue from the new parking fees will be funnelled back into the university town’s public transport network and used to further its aims to become climate neutral by 2030.

Other towns and cities in Germany are piloting similar schemes. The move has also been widely praised by climate activists, who say that free and heavily subsidised parking spaces must end. 

‘You don’t pay enough taxes’

In his 14 years as mayor of Tübingen, Palmer has developed a reputation across Germany as a straight-talking politician who puts forward radical, and often controversial, plans.

After winning the support he needs for his parking fee change, he penned an unapologetic post on Facebook announcing the move telling ‘car drivers’ that things were about to change. 

“You didn’t pay for the roads. Neither do you pay enough taxes,” he wrote. “Your favourite form of transport is massively subsidised as it is, by all other taxpayers and the next generation.

READ ALSO: Does German desire for transport efficiency trump environmental concerns?

“If the prices were to reflect the real amount you should be paying, a parking space would have to cost not €30 a year, but €3,000.”

Disgruntled residents, meanwhile, accused the mayor of “conducting a personal campaign against cars and their owners”. 

The final decision on the price hike will be made by the council at the end of September, though media reports suggest that it is highly likely to pass. 

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LIVING IN GERMANY

REVEALED: The most commonly asked questions about Germans and Germany

Ever wondered what the world is asking about Germany and the Germans? We looked at Google’s most searched results to find out – and help clear some of these queries up.

Oktoberfest
Hasan Salihamidzic, the sports director of FC Bayern, arrives with his wife at Oktoberfest in full traditional dress. Photo: picture alliance/dpa |

According to popular searches, Germany is the go-to place for good coffee and bread (although only if you like the hard kind) and the place to avoid if what you’re looking for is good food, good internet connection and low taxes. Of course, this is subjective; some people will travel long stretches to get a fresh, hot pretzel or a juicy Bratwurst, while others will take a hard pass.

When it comes to the question on the bad Internet – there is some truth to this. German is known for being behind other rich nations when it comes to connectivity. And from personal experience, the internet connection can seem a little medieval. The incoming German coalition government has, however, vowed to improve internet connectivity as part of their plans to modernise the country.

There are also frequent questions on learning the German language, and people pointing out that it is hard and complicated. This is probably due to the long compound words and its extensive grammar rules, however, as both English and German are Germanic languages with similar words in common, it’s not impossible to learn as an English-speaker.

Here’s a look at some of those questions…

Why is German called Deutsch? Whereas ‘German’ comes from the Latin, ‘Deutsch’ instead derives itself from the Indo-European root “þeudō”, meaning “people”. This slowly became “Deutsch” as we know it today. It can be a bit confusing to English-speakers, who are right to think it sounds a little more like “Dutch”, however the two languages do have the same roots which may explain it.

And why is Germany so boring? Again, probably a generalisation, especially given that Germany has a landmass of over 350,000 km² with areas ranging from high rise, industrial cities to traditional old town villages and even mountain ranges, so you’re sure to find a place that doesn’t bore you to tears.

Perhaps it is a question that comes from the stereotype that Germans are obsessed with strict about rules, organised and analytical. Or that they have no sense of humour – all of these things being not the most exciting traits. 

Either way, from my experience I can confirm that, even though there is truth to German society enjoying order and rules, the vast majority of people are not boring, and I’m sure if you come to Germany you’ll meet many interesting, funny and exciting people. 

READ ALSO: 12 mistakes foreigners make when moving to Germany

When it comes to the German weather, most people assume a cold and cloudy climate, however this isn’t entirely true. While the autumn and winter, especially in the north, comes with grey skies and sub-zero temperatures, Germany can have some beautiful summers, with temperatures frequently rising above 30C in some places.

Unsurprisingly, the power and wealth of the German nation is mentioned – Germany is the largest economy in Europe after all, with a GDP of 3.8 trillion dollars. This could be due to strong industry sectors in the country, including vehicle constructions (I was a little surprised to find no questions posed on German cars), chemical and electrical industry and engineering. There are also many strong economic cities in Germany, most notably Munich, Frankfurt am Main and Hamburg.

READ ALSO: Eight unique words and phrases that tell us something about Germany

Smart and tall?

Why are Germans so tall? They are indeed taller than many other nations, with the average German measuring a good 172.87cm (or 5 feet 8.06 inches), however this may be a question better posed to the Dutch, who make up the tallest people in the world.

Why are Germans so smart? While this is again a generalisation – as individuals have different levels of intelligence in all countries – this question may stem from Germany’s free higher education system or their seemingly efficient work ethic. Plus there does seem to be some scientific research behind this question, with a study done in 2006 finding that Germans had the highest IQ in Europe.

So, while many of the questions posed about Germany and Germans on Google stem from stereotypes, we can confirm that some aren’t entirely made up. If you’re looking to debunk some frequently asked questions about France and the French, check out this article by our sister site HERE.

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