My office is located very centrally in Düsseldorf. You can look out of the window to the Kö, the Champs-Elysees of Germany. It is also a on a busy road which trams, cars, pedestrians and cyclicts share. Well, in fact, as so often in Dizzel, the pedestrians and cyclicts fight for their lives and the trams and cars share the road – but not even that works. I’ve been working in that office for nine months this week and today was the seventh time a car and a tram crashed right in front of our house.
The first time, it was still alarming incident that had us run to the windows after the sound of squealing brakes paired with frantic trams bells ringing and the inevitable thunk! boom! bang!
During our seven observations of these accidents (we grew less agitated with time), we figured out that the problem must be that the tram comes from behind on a track that the cars cross when they turn left. Just that they are not allowed to turn left but for some reason that is not super clear to the drivers. The car always loses, the damage usually looks pretty bad. I know too little about cars to determine whether they can be fixed and how much that costs. The train can’t continue either for a while, blocking the track for any tram coming after. On a busy route, you imagine the delays.
The entire street design of Düsseldorf has ever since been puzzling me. There are traffic lights every 300 metres (no exaggeration) and virtually no roundabouts. Bike lanes stop in the middle of a street. And places where accidents happen almost every month seem to not prompt the city to reconsider their traffic management. My only explaination is that no one ever gets seriously hurt during these frequent tram-car-crashes so it doesn’t seem urgent enough to the city council.
Meanwhile, we count our time at work not in months but in traffic accident numbers.