Quarter Lößniger Straße – outdated public infrastructure?

The Lößniger Straße neighbourhood near the former Bayerischer Bahnhof site is about to undergo fundamental change. The emergence of the modern district at Bayerischer Bahnhof will have a major impact on the adjacent Lößniger Straße neighbourhood.

While the infrastructure for bicycles is almost non-existent, the adjacent neighbourhoods of the brownfield site have been oriented only towards car-friendly mobility. Due to the high proportion of parking spaces and the sparse planting, the public space therefore only ensures a low quality of stay. People with limited mobility prefer to walk on the streets rather than on the sidewalks. Does this design of the current streets and public spaces fulfil tomorrow needs of the emergent neighbourhood or is the infrastructure outdated? 

This article is intended to show what developments await the Lößniger Straße neighbourhood, what the needs of residents are, and where there is a particular need for planning action.

In our StuBa podcast, you can find out how we investigated the area and what goals the city itself has set for expanding sustainable mobility.

What is public space?

Generally, public space is all the space that is publicly accessible. It thus includes the road and traffic spaces used by the different means of transport as well as public places and green areas. It is important that, independent of their use, these public spaces are inviting people to linger. Thus, they are an important part of a liveable neighbourhood. Is the public space of the Lößniger area designed in such a way?

Identifying the current condition of the infrastructure

To identify the current condition of the infrastructure of the Lößniger area we drew up our own investigation. As answering these questions only with the help of plans seemed insufficient, we designed a survey of the quarter. This allowed us to study the use of public space in the area. We recorded the existing infrastructure for motorized and non-motorized traffic as well as squares and assessed its quality and safety. As a large part of the public space is made up of traffic space and streets, we focused on this part following the Handelskartierung in Geographische Handelsforschung[1]. On this basis, we assessed the current quality, use and access conditions.

Study area of mapping in the quarter “Lößniger Straße” (map from openstreetmap.org, own edit).

To evaluate the area in detail, we divided the area into 33 segments. We estimated proportionately how much of the existing infrastructure each transport mode has. A ratio of side spaces and roadway of 30:40:30 [2] is considered optimal for the design of streets. However, our observation shows that about three-quarters of the public space of the street belongs to the car in the form of roads and parking spaces. Unfortunately, pedestrians can only use a quarter of the space by using the pavements. Of the 33 road sections, only three sections had separate bicycle lanes. The lack of benches and sufficient planting in the streets significantly reduces the quality of stay.

Is the condition of the streets and sidewalks adequate?

Partial unevenness characterizes asphalted streets throughout the study area and often exhibit ruts or street cracks. The Lößniger Straße and the Dösner Weg are striking; their serious surface damage poses problems for moving traffic. In contrast, the cobblestone streets east of Arthur-Hoffmann-Straße are in good condition. Sidewalks such as the footpath on Kohlenstraße have bottlenecks and are uneven. In five of the mapped sections, pedestrians must walk on the street as pavements are non-existent.

Abruptly ending bicycle lane and poor condition of the traffic surface in Arthur-Hoffmann-Straße (own recording).

How safe are the intersections?

Poor visibility, missing road markings, and scarcely existing equipment for people with limited mobility give vulnerable road users barely the necessary protection from accidents. Street crossing aids such as marked crosswalks or traffic lights exist at most in the main streets. The absence of large-scale guidance systems for the blind, consisting of acoustic signals and guidelines, indicate the outdated infrastructure. Parking cars often block crosswalks in side streets, meanwhile lowered curbs are often missing there.

Overall, changing streets is not without a risk, especially for people with limited mobility, and there is an urgent need for planning and action for road improvements.

Occupancy of car parking spaces

Parking spaces occupancy on 12/13/2020 11:30 a.m. and bicycle infrastructure in the study area (map from openstreetmap.org, own edit).

The parking areas seem to be far from sufficient. In many street sections, the availability of parking spaces is below 15% (red). Thus, it is not surprising that according to estimates by traffic researcher Martin Margreiter, parking search traffic accounts for 20-30% of all traffic in large cities [3]. Improved parking management could avoid dense traffic.

There is a lack of vegetation in the street space of the study area. The quality of stay in the streets needs improvement. Only the playground Schenkendorfplatz and the Albrecht-Dürer-Platz at Arthur-Hoffmann-Straße have an infrastructure for lingering and recreation such as benches or sports equipment.

It is evident: The existing infrastructure is mainly designed for motorized private transport (MPV). The MPV currently holds a traffic share of 40% in Leipzig. This needs to decrease down to 30% by 2025 [4, p. 20]. Cyclists currently have no separate space on the road. Instead, they have to share it with motor vehicles.

Where are the public squares in the neighbourhood?

In our first article, we described the current state of the fallow land as a retreat for residents. This open space will partly give way to the emerging neighbourhood Lößniger Straße. Today, there is no comparable opportunity to stay, which can take on the function of a gathering place in this dimension. The two rather small squares Schenkendorfplatz and Albrecht-Dürer-Platz are the only squares in our study area. Although there is playground equipment at Schenkendorfplatz, this only adds value for families with small children.

The Albrecht-Dürer-Platz is inviting to more user groups. However, the busy Arthur-Hoffmann-Straße separates the latter square from the newly emerging neighbourhood. Thus, when planning the future neighbourhood, the design of public places must be thought through well. These should suit the needs of many people with different needs, invite them to linger and support the feeling of familiarity in the neighbourhood through everyday-encounters.

Design principles for public squares

But what makes a high-quality public square? And what about the squares around the Lößniger Straße neighbourhood?
Public squares serve as meeting places. At best, people of different ages, genders and family backgrounds meet, fostering a sense of familiarity and trust. This forms the basis for a healthy and convivial neighbourhood. A neighbourhood which is inviting to visitors and newcomers.


Public spaces have to meet the following requirements to fulfil this function [5, p. 30-35]
Connection to the rest of the neighbourhood,
Accessibility,
Provision of seating,
offering a variety of possible activities
Ensuring safety through adequate lighting,
Provision of smart infrastructure such as public WIFI

Goals and plans of the city of Leipzig

Leipzig is one of the fastest-growing cities in Germany. The number of children will continue to rise sharply in the coming years [4, p. 14]. When designing the newly emerging district at the Bayerischer Bahnhof, not only the necessities of today but also those of tomorrow must be considered. Thus, the city of Leipzig pursues ambitious climate goals. Sustainable urban development is one of the most important components to achieve these. The Leipzig Charta lays the foundations for this: the model of a sustainable and socially viable city of short distances. Participation is a central instrument to plan this city of the future.

According to the “Integriertes Stadtentwicklungskonzept” 2030 (INSEK), the aim in Südvorstadt is to preserve existing qualities. To this end, it is essential to promote social justice and affordable housing. This current problem has already been addressed in the article “Rethinking Neighborhoods: Overcoming Polarization through Participation!” and analysed. This includes the preservation of existing green spaces and open spaces. Therefore, Leipzig is pursuing the concept of dual inner development: This envisages the densification of built-up areas without the disappearance of urban green spaces. 

In terms of sustainability, the city of Leipzig has set itself ambitious goals for a more climate-friendly and low-emission growth, not just since it declared a climate emergency. Mobility plays a major role for this transition. The city wants to transform the transportation landscape into a post-fossil mobility culture. Leipzig thus aspires to take a pioneering role in the transport turnaround (Mobilitätswende) [6, p. 14]. Increasing the modal share of the ‘Umweltverbund’, consisting of pedestrians, bicyclists, public transportation, and carpooling, can significantly reduce emissions. To achieve this, more space must be reserved for this alliance. 

Modal share of means of transportation (modal split) from the years 2003 – 2015 and prognosis for 2025 [4, p. 20].

Design principles for the street’s infrastructure

The ‘Urban Development Plan for Transport and Public Space’ (Stadtentwicklungsplan Verkehr und öffentlicher Raum) defines concrete design principles for the implementation of climate-neutral mobility. In addition to their traffic function, streets also have to meet urban design criteria. Public transport, pedestrian and bicycle traffic are to be given more space by ‘widening side spaces, planting them, and relieving them of other uses’ [5, p.31]. Overall, the attractiveness of public space as a living space should be increased. Green spaces in the street space not only improve the quality of the stay of the space but also contribute to the improvement of air quality and the microclimate. 

The current infrastructure of the environmental network has to improve and integrate deeper into existing and planned transport networks. Approaches for this exist in the plans for the individual modes of transport. Further crossing aids, traffic calming and the separation of pedestrian and bicycle traffic should ensure the safety and attractiveness of pedestrian traffic. For cycling, the expansion of the cycle path network is important to guarantee security.

What are the wishes and concerns of citizens regarding the planning process?

As part of the mandatory participation process, the city organised a workshop on the topic of Mobility and Traffic with approximately 50 participants in the spring of 2020. Citizens were able to contribute their thoughts and wishes for the mobility concept of the Lößniger Straße neighbourhood with the associated path connections as well as its higher-level connections. They make it clear that a barrier-free neighbourhood is particularly important. Mobility should be family-friendly, and squares should have a high quality of stay. The coordination of cycling and pedestrian traffic will also be particularly important in the future.

As far as the motorized private transport (MPV) is concerned, there is a consensus among the participants that parking spaces should not be created at the expense of residents. However, the extent to which the car will still have a place in the future quarter remains controversial. Independently of one another people expressed wishes for a car-free quarter, a quarter with few cars, and a quarter designed for motor vehicles.

The map shows the emerging main axis for non-motorised traffic [7, S. 11]. The city centre and the southern area of Leipzig up to Markkleeberger See are to be connected for pedestrian and bicycle traffic. The abandoned lands will be traversed by four cross-connections linking Südvorstadt with Leipzig’s east.

Mobility concept for Lößniger Straße

Connections of the future neighbourhood for motorized vehicles [7, p. 11]. Lößniger Straße remains the most important street for the MPV and a 30 km/h-speed-zone is to extend throughout the area. Streets leading to residential buildings will become play streets.

Citizens hope that the underground car park will be public, as this would alleviate the parking problem in the whole neighbourhood. The main transport axis Lößniger Straße needs additional noise reduction measures and the path walks may be broader. Further, there is also a desire to implement crossings on the traffic-calmed streets to increase safety and comfort for pedestrians.

The development of the brownfield of the former Bavarian railroad station offers a unique opportunity not only to create new living space but also to design the public streets and squares of the area for a future-oriented use. To design these spaces according to the planning principles of the city, to create liveable spaces. Thus, for sustainable development, adjacent neighbourhoods must also be considered to counteract already existing complications. A more detailed analysis of these structural problems can be found in the article “District contrast – feeling or reality”. Better integration of the infrastructure through appropriate mobility axes is the basic requirement for ensuring functioning mobility for users of the ‘Umweltverbund’. You can learn more about how these demands, goals and wishes can be realized here in our article.

Sources

[1] Neiberger, Cordula; Hahn, Barbara (2020): Geographische Handelsforschung, Berlin, Heidelberg: Springer Berlin Heidelberg.

[2] Forschungsgesellschaft für das Straßen­ und Verkehrswesen (2006): Richtlinien für die Anlage von Stadtstraßen RASt 06, Punkt 5.1.2.

[3] Dominik Reintjes (2018): Smart Parking. Wie Apps und Sensoren bei der Parkplatzsuche helfen. Düsseldorf: Wirtschaftswoche.

[4] Stadt Leipzig (2018): Integriertes Stadtentwicklungskonzept Leipzig 2030 (INSEK)

[5] Stadt Leipzig: Mobilitätsstrategie 2030 für Leipzig. Anlage 1 (2017): “Ein lebenswertes. Leipzig in Bewegung”.

[6]Stadt Leipzig (2015): Stadtentwicklungsplan Verkehr und öffentlicher Raum – Erste Fortschreibung.

[7] Stadtarchiv Leipzig: Dokumentation Themen-Workshop “Mobilität und Verkehr” vom 03. Februar 2020.

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