Towards a More Inclusive Traffic Planning? Changes in Urban Mobility in the Face of Socio-Cultural Diversity in a Berlin Neighborhood


  • Agnes Müller Technische Universität Berlin


Urban Mobility, Social Inclusion, Diversity, Changes, Mobility Planning Practices, Neighborhood Public Space




In the interest of sustainable transport planning, changes in mobility behavior are currently in the focus of mobility researchers worldwide, but the associated cultural and diversity-related dependencies demand more attention (Fainstein, 2010). Hence, the paper explores the changing intersections of mobility and social inclusion in an urban context (Cass, Shove, and Urry, 2005). Initially, it introduces theoretical discourses on mobility and inclusion, examining the changing urban mobility from different perspectives such as gender, age, and ethnicity. Utilizing a case study from Berlin, the article analyzes how mobility issues can lead to exclusion in everyday life, and what is necessary to create more inclusive urban mobility concepts and planning procedures (Miciukiewicz and Vigar, 2012).

The selected case study focuses on the "Reichenberger Kiez," a dense urban neighborhood in Kreuzberg, Berlin, with the Reichenberger Strasse as main thoroughfare. This densely populated area has been somewhat neglected since World War II due to its close proximity to the Berlin Wall. Many families with a Turkish or Arabic background reside in Kreuzberg since then, significantly shaping the cultural life of this part of the city. Today, gentrification changes the social composition of the neighborhood and the economic infrastructure. Many new bars, nice restaurants, shops etc. opened and existing social facilities, such as schools, kindergartens and care centers are highly demanded. Hence, there is an increasing traffic in the neighborhood, and the street and public space is very much contested.

Consequently, the "Reichenberger Kiez" neighborhood encounters several challenges concerning mobility. Despite two subway stations at its northern edge and several bus stops within the neighborhood, the neighborhood has only limited access to public transport. Only few streets lead in and out the neighborhood as a canal and a public park form barriers to the adjacent neighborhoods. Although over the past decade new mobility options, including station-based and floating car-sharing, shared bikes, shared electric cargo bikes, and scooters became available, those led to new conflicts. Due to the cobblestone on Reichenberger Strasse, an increasing number of cyclist and scooter drivers use the pedestrian way, risking accidents with pedestrians. Hence, many people such as families and elderly persons living in the neighborhood advocate for improved biking conditions such as a proper cycle path. A neighborhood grassroots initiative “Reichenberger Kiez for everyone” promotes a traffic-calming concept (“Kiezblock”) but does not represent the cultural and economic diversity of the neighborhood. Cultural norms discourage cycling for other groups. Conservative German-Turkish women, for instance, are not allowed to bike, whereas young German-Turkish and German-Arabic men view cars as a symbol of economic success, while associating bikes with lower economic status. These residents complain about the lacking parking options within the neighborhood and oppose actual movements to redistribute the street space.

Within a seminar at TU Berlin in the Master programs Urban Design and Urban Planning and Mobility, the author conducted together with students the case study's field research. The methodological approach included semi-structured interviews with neighborhood users and neighbors, interviews with experts for professional insights, an online survey, traffic counts, and mappings to understand mobility patterns and to spatially illustrate various perspectives on inclusion. In a final step, students envisioned scenarios for redesigning mobility and street space within the neighborhood to enhance inclusivity and ensure mobility access for all residents, addressing diverse perspectives.

The article summarizes the field research results, aligns them with the literature review on mobility and inclusion, and expands on the analysis of the current urban mobility planning processes. By addressing the intricate interplay between mobility, social inclusion, and urban planning, the paper explores the challenges and possibilities of creating a more inclusive urban mobility planning scheme.


Cass, N., Shove, E. and Urry, J. (2005) 'Social exclusion, mobility and access.', The Sociological Review, vol. 53, no. 3, pp. 539-555.

Fainstein, S. (2010). The just city. Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press.

Miciukiewicz, K. and Vigar, G. (2012) ‘Mobility and Social Cohesion in the Splintered City: Challenging Technocratic Transport Research and Policy-Making Practices’, in O.B. Jensen (ed.) Mobilities. Critical Concepts in Built Environment. London and New York: Routledge, pp. 1941–57.