Dependent on the car: who is it and what are their rights?
The parking situation in Bremen is a horror in many places: many drivers park their vehicles in the most impossible places – regardless of whether this endangers other road users or impairs the flow of traffic. In discussions about this, the argument “But I’m dependent on my vehicle – it has to be parked somewhere” is often used. But who really is?
In answering this question, I distinguish between people who believe they are dependent on a vehicle and those who really have a legal right to special parking arrangements.
Who is legally dependent on a car?
As of October 2022, there is no binding definition of a group of people who must necessarily own a car. However, there are special regulations, such as for persons with a disabled parking permit or for certain occupational groups, from which it can be deduced that these persons are dependent on their vehicle.
Persons with a legal right to a car
In the following, I present groups of persons who may have a legal claim to a vehicle and thus also to parking space.
Exception 1 : People with a disability
People with a mobility impairment are entitled to motor vehicle assistance and thus to a vehicle, provided that they meet the following requirements according to § 3 of the Motor Vehicle Assistance Ordinance:
- a person is dependent on the use of a motor vehicle due to a disability in order to travel between the place of residence and the place of learning, education or work; and
- the person is also able to drive a motor vehicle.
- a need also exists if a person works from home and needs the motor vehicle for work (for example, to fetch or deliver goods).
It follows from this that these people are legally dependent on their car.
Special regulations through parking facilitation
Due to the revision of parking facilitations in 2009, persons with disabilities in the city of Bremen can apply for a pass to benefit from special regulations. For example, they may (unless there is another parking facility nearby):
- park for up to three hours in restricted parking zones and residents’ parking spaces
- exceed the permitted parking time in no-parking zones
- park in pedestrian and loading zones during loading time
- park outside designated areas in traffic-calmed zones (provided this does not affect others or traffic).
In addition, you may park free of charge and without time limit, even if parking ticket machines or meters are available.
Exception 2 : Midwives and outpatient care services with special permit
Outpatient care services and midwives can also apply for an exemption. This entitles them, for example, to park in no-parking zones, residents’ parking areas and restricted parking zones.
Note: Professional carers, on the other hand, are not entitled to a parking permit to facilitate parking. According to the Administrative Court of Frankfurt am Main, the use of parking meters and a certain walking distance is reasonable.
Exception 3 : craftsmen with special permit
In Bremen, craftsmen of certain trades and trades similar to trades are allowed to apply for parking relief. These include roofers, electricians, gardeners, chimney sweeps and plumbers. With this special permit, tradesmen are allowed to park in restricted parking zones or in traffic-calmed areas, among other things.
Exception 4 : police, fire brigade, rescue service etc.
According to § 35 of the Road Traffic Regulations, many authorities are exempt from the regulations of the Road Traffic Regulations if this is necessary for the fulfilment of their sovereign tasks.
Persons who believe they are dependent on a car
The second group of people are “dependent” on a car for personal reasons and are therefore convinced that they have a right to a parking space. The reasons for this are manifold: to get to work, to drive children to clubs or to do the shopping. However, as a rule, this does not constitute a legal entitlement. If you move into a high-density residential area, you have to be aware that there is a shortage of parking space.
Sometimes I wish for a model or parking regulations like in Amsterdam. There, all parking spaces are paid for – whether for visitors or residents. However, parking permits can be purchased. The parking fees collected are paid to the mobility funds of the city of Amsterdam and its outlying districts, and the money is essentially used for sustainable modes of transport such as walking, cycling and public transport thus helping to promote a car-free city.
Problem: Illegal parking is the order of the day in Bremen
Since free parking spaces are scarce in Bremen, especially in residential areas, many drivers enforce their claim, which they consider legitimate, by parking on pavements. This imposed parking has been tolerated for decades, although it is illegal. Sometimes cars are even parked illegally on both sides of the street. For various reasons, many residents are irritated by pavement parking:
– no space for emergency vehicles on the streets
– pedestrians have no more space on the pavements
– Those with prams, wheelchairs or walkers have to use the street as there is no space on the pavement.
– people entitled to parking concessions cannot find parking spaces.
Even the rules of the road traffic regulations do not solve the problem as long as they are not implemented and action is taken against parking violators. A regular distribution of parking tickets with fines or consistent towing would perhaps make some drivers wake up.
Can parking violators defend themselves against fines?
If you are caught parking illegally, you can appeal against the fine – but the rules of the Road Traffic Act are clear and people without the above-mentioned parking privileges are breaking the law. As a ruling by the Bremen Administrative Court proves, it does not help to insist on an alleged customary right.
Can residents take action against residents’ parking regulations?
One of the city’s solutions is resident parking zones, which are being expanded all the time. However, these do not really solve the problem, as illegal parkers ignore the signs and simply park without permission. In addition, some residents are unable to find a parking space despite having a resident parking permit. This raises the question of whether residents can take action against the city’s regulations. As a case in Leonberg shows, a complaint to the administrative court is possible. However, this process is tough and would not solve the parking situation in Bremen either.
What alternatives are there to the car in Bremen?
Hand on heart: our public transport and the many cycle paths in Bremen offer the possibility of getting from A to B comfortably without a car. With buses and trams widely available, so many arguments for the need for a car are not convincing. Many routes can also be covered by bike or on foot. In addition, it is now possible to rent e-bikes and e-scooters, which eliminates the high purchase costs. Car pooling can also help to reduce the car load in Bremen. If it is not possible to do without a car, it is possible to book a vehicle with Cambio or another car-sharing provider – this way, people can enjoy the benefits of a car for as long as they really need it. Afterwards, it is used directly without blocking the footpaths unnecessarily.
Because yes: space in the city is unevenly distributed. There is too little space for the number of vehicles in Bremen, causing obstructions every day for pedestrians, cyclists and people who really need a vehicle. Those who move to a densely populated area cannot invoke personal reasons to justify a claim to a space for their own car. There are enough alternatives: be it moving somewhere else or using environmentally-friendly forms of transport. Especially in a cycling city like Bremen.
The author Florian Fischer is from the VFR publishing house for legal journalism.