Pedestrian Zone 

While strolling downtown, I noticed an area where pedestrians seem to prevail. Hardly a vehicle and persons just jaywalking between the stores. What is this?



This is something typically German and call Fußgängerzone or pedestrian zone. The general idea is a mixture of recreation, shopping. Italians might like to consider this as comparable to their “piazza”. The traffic code defines this zone as an area generally only for pedestrians. Of course, there are exceptions for vehicles; they will be described below. As a rough rule of the thumb, everything but pedestrian traffic is forbidden in pedestrian zones. This includes parking in a pedestrian zone.

How do I notice where such zone starts?

This is easy! The sign (as shown on the right hand side) clearly indicates so.

Sign for the beginning of pedestrian zone

And where does this zone stop?

End of pedestrian zone

Just as simple! Actually the same sign only in black and white with a fat slash from bottom left to top right. It is the picture on the left hand side.

While in such pedestrian zone, I recently almost got a heart attack. All of sudden there was a van behind me. It somehow sneaked up from out of nowhere. Gee, who has the right of way in such zone?

When cars or vans are permitted, then they are subordinate to pedestrians. They must show consideration for pedestrians. However, police cars or ambulances with(!) their horns turned on pretty much expect to breeze their way through a “mob” of pedestrians.

I recently saw a private car in a pedestrian zone. How can that be?

It is imaginable that such legally happens. Such legal use would start with a special permission. Grounds for such special permission would be reasons that prevail the general interest of pedestrian traffic. This is a question of the individual case. When you really do want to consider applying do come up with a darn good reason. It is pretty likely that when your house with a garage is at the beginning of such zone, you can get such permit. Even parking here is not permitted.

I wonder how shops get their stock. Does the delivery man have to park outside and walk all the way to the store?

Very often you will see that “Lieferverkehr” is permitted at the beginning of pedestrian zones. In other words, delivery traffic is accept as a regular exception but typically only in the morning hours.

I have such permit to drive in pedestrian zones. Once I drove a different and longer way to avoid a real big detour to my destiny. Still the police stopped me.

Your exceptional right to drive through a pedestrian zone is only for the short possible way in or out. It does not matter whether you will have any troubles or need to take a detour (BVerwG judgment of September 8, re 11 C 38.92),

Heck, life has been so easy so far, until they recently extended the pedestrian zone to include my block. What can I do about it?

It will be hardly imaginable for you to have the zone undone. When the use of your dwelling is significantly disturbed then you can reduce the rent. However, the noise and dirt from reworking the streets will not give you any reason to reduce the rent. You have to tolerate it without any damages (OLG Düsseldorf, judgment of November 18, 1997, re 24 U 261/96).



This article is a modified translation of the original to be found on

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