Comment: The bullshit bingo of the traffic turnaround

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Even more than any other topic, the debate about traffic is highly emotional – after all, it is (primarily) about the German dearest child and therefore nothing less than personal freedom. How do I get from A to B? Which contingencies have to be covered? What innovations do you need? Which way? So what follows is a snappy, snappy glossary to prepare you for arguments in the debate.

Drive turn

“A drive turnaround is not yet a traffic turnaround,” is the popular saying from left-wing circles – often followed by the suggestion (which is easy to connect with conservatives) that e-cars are no better than combustion engines either. However, the fact that the first argument is undoubtedly correct also makes the second one not better.

Gregor Honsel has been the TR editor since 2006. He believes that many complex problems have simple, easy-to-understand, but wrong solutions.


According to the fears of many, it will inevitably happen if everyone would charge their e-cars at the same time. In theory correct, but also applies to hairdryers, coffee machines and ovens.


Berlin is not a Bullerby, said Franziska Giffey (SPD) in the Berlin election campaign. In other words: fewer cars and more bike paths are not for metropolises like Berlin, but only for idyllic beetles. Giffey apparently also includes cities like Barcelona or Paris.

retail trade

According to Twitter user Nicoleopter the most absurd lie of the traffic turnaround, because refuted a hundred times: “The retail trade suffers from car-free shopping streets.”


Politicians like to interpret it as a continuation of car traffic by other means. As a result, the funding ends where it is going to get interesting in terms of transport policy – for example in the case of electric light vehicles such as the Renault Twizy. They’re not “normal” cars.


It collapses as soon as German carmakers can no longer display the gems of German engineering on German autobahns. This would threaten Porsche and BMW with a similar fate as Ferrari and Lamborghini, which are known to be denied any competence in terms of sportiness and speed.


Is often confused with the right to fight or ignore pain-inducing regulations.


If something is to change, there is definitely some ideology behind it. If everything is to stay as it was, however, that is the manifestation of rational and impartial thinking.

Individual transport

“Mobility is inconceivable without individual transport! Greens supposedly know better and say: Yes!” the current Federal Minister of Transport, Volker Wissing, tweeted (FDP) in September. Evidence of when and where exactly the Greens ever demanded the abolition of cycling or walking is still pending.

Children’s rider

“They are too heavy, too wide, far too fast and are used by people who look like they are in a campaign by the Greens,” finds world blogger Don Alphonso. The argument proves its crystal clear logic the moment you put a cargo bike next to an SUV. “But this is not about arguments, but about feelings,” as Zeit writes. Cargo bikes are often ridden by people we don’t like (“Alnatura nobility“). And that’s why cargo bikes are stupid.

Maximum event demand car (“racing limousine”)

Tinned testimony to the belief that a single technical artifact must be able to solve any hypothetical task – for example, bring an extended family, a caravan, two dogs, three surfboards, four mountain bikes and five crates of beer from Munich to Lake Garda in less than three hours.

Laws of nature

Something that do-gooders never understand, but only their critics. The latter deduce from the energy density of electrochemical power storage systems, for example, that electric cars cannot get from A to B any more than bumblebees can fly.

Parking management

Interfering with the customary right to be able to use public space at will.


Trying to balance the needs of public transport, taxis and startups by hurting as little as possible. Except for the startups.


Vehicles that have both an exhaust pipe and an “E” on the license plate. The former is used primarily for locomotion and the latter for promoting.


Buses and trains never reach them, but cars practically always – at least if you allow enough time for traffic jams and red lights.

What about …?

“Craftsmen and small businesses shouldn’t use vans, but cargo bikes? That’s not very realistic for companies in rural areas. Green eco-Biedermeier in its purest form”, the current Federal Minister of Transport, Volker Wissing, tweeted End of August. In other words, he stands in front of a huge tree full of low-hanging fruit, but complains about the high-hanging fruit (“Whataboutism”).


Basically never enough for e-cars. It could be that at some point you feel the urgent need to spontaneously board a fish sandwich from Oberstorf to Flensburg.

raw materials

How harmful their extraction is depends directly on their use. When it comes to lithium or cobalt, some people develop a laudable and astonishing interest in global supply chains, working conditions and ecosystems. When it comes to crude oil, the interest is usually significantly lower.

Social justice

It is particularly evident in the fact that the cost of cars thanks to the commuter allowance, diesel or company car privilege is significantly lrise more slowly than that of public transport, which is known to only be used by the well-to-do.

More from MIT Technology Review

More from MIT Technology Review

More from MIT Technology Review

More from MIT Technology Review


According to traffic activist Katja Diehl “Too often just want to change cool-sounding framing for nothing, because I really like the status quo”.

Speed ​​limit

The lowest hanging fruit of the traffic turnaround, which is declared completely unattainable with the greatest possible nagging.


“90 percent of the world’s population cannot afford an electric car,” said the politician Jürgen Todenhöfer Election posters print – and instead advocated green hydrogen. What goes unmentioned is the fact that almost 100 percent of the world’s population cannot afford a hydrogen car.

Internal combustion engines

Something whose existence must be saved at all costs. If at some point it can no longer be fossil fuel, then at least e-fuels or hydrogen – something to burn will still be found. After all, the invention of the overhead camshaft must not have been in vain.


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