From Rail-Oriented to Automobile-Oriented Urban Development and Back. 100 Years of Paradigm Change and Transport Policy in Berlin

  • Friedemann Kunst Berlin City Senate
Keywords: Transport management, urban transportation history, transportation and land use, public transportation, Berlin


Transport and its side effects are major problems in rapidly growing cities. Car traffic dominates these cities and pollutes the environment without being able to sufficiently secure the mobility of the urban population and goods. A paradigm shift in urban and transport policy will be necessary to change this situation. In spite of its different development dynamics, Berlin is an interesting example to discuss development strategies for rapidly growing cities because in the course of more than 100 years, a twofold paradigm shift has occurred in the city both conceptually and practically:  Berlin has shifted from a city dominated by rail traffic  to an automobile-oriented city,  and has then gradually transformed back into a city in which  an intertwined system of public and non-motorized individual means of transport secures the mobility of the urban population. The interdependencies on the conceptual level between urban planning and transport policies as well as on a practical level between urban structures and transport systems can be studied using the example of Berlin. Experiences with the implementation of automobile-oriented planning and the special conditions in the first decade after reunification led to protests, reflection, and a revision of the transport policy. A strategically designed process of integrated planning has brought about a trend reversal, and steered the development of transport in the direction of clearly formulated sustainability-oriented objectives. In this process, the reintegration of transport and spatial planning and a reorganization of institutional structures at the administrative level was of particular importance. Compact, rail-oriented settlement structures like in the metropolitan region of Berlin make it easier to dispense with automobiles than sprawled structures. The residual role that qualitatively improved automobiles will take in the cities of the future will have to be determined by research and practice. What is certain is that an attractive public transport system should form the backbone of urban transport services.


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Author Biography

Friedemann Kunst, Berlin City Senate

Dr. Friedemann Kunst is working as a private consultant for municipalities and international organizations. Until his retirement in 2013, he was head of the department of transport and traffic within the Senate ministry of urban development. He was responseble for planning and the operation of the integrated transport system in the German capital. Friedemann Kunst has studied architecture in Stuttgart and urban and transport planning in Berlin. He is member of the German Academy for Urban Design and Regional Planning.


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How to Cite
KunstF. (2016). From Rail-Oriented to Automobile-Oriented Urban Development and Back. 100 Years of Paradigm Change and Transport Policy in Berlin. TeMA - Journal of Land Use, Mobility and Environment, 21-34.
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