The test is part of a multitude of climate protection measures of the city. But there is also criticism of the climate protection concept.
BY JULIAN DORN
Eppstein -The city council wanted to go ahead with a special project in the matter of climate protection, or better: to cycle ahead. Eppstein citizens were able to test e-bikes and e-load bikes for free between early January and mid-April. Pedelec instead of passenger car was the motto. Altogether 156 persons from Eppstein have swung themselves in this time on the saddle and were in each case for two weeks with the altogether eleven E-Bikes and Pedelecs on the way. Despite freezing temperatures, "the e-bikes and pedelecs have been consistently rented out over the last three months", sums up Mayor Alexander Simon.
Since the pedelecs are powered by an electric motor, the testers were able to venture into streets that are otherwise only mastered by professional cyclists. So the participants tried out in the castle town with its often steep streets. Difficult hills alternatives to the car. Finally, one approach to sustainable climate protection is "an extensive switch to emission-free drives such as electric motors", so Simon. "Bicycles will also be able to use the electric motor."
The project includes a free on-site service for maintenance and repair as well as instruction. Simon now hopes that the test campaign has encouraged many citizens to buy an e-bike and leave their cars behind more often.
However, this is only attractive if there is also a suitable infrastructure for e-bikes in Eppstein. This does exist, the mayor confirms when asked. "There are numerous parking facilities for electric bicycles at the city train station. These also have an interior charging option." The facility is well frequented, all places are rented out. At present it is considered to extend the offer there, at other stations or for instance in the old part of town, at height of Gottfriedplatz.
Climate protection concept is outdated
Since May 2019, many people have been able to conquer Eppstein's hills with an electric car: the electrically powered company car at City Hall I in Vockenhausen is available to administrative staff during working hours. Afterwards and on weekends, the vehicle can be rented by private individuals; via an app.
E-bikes, e-car sharing, citizen solar systems, the use of renewable electricity, the construction of two electric charging stations, the Eppstein Energy Days, the solar roof cadastre, regular consulting services and energy-efficient renovations of public buildings: the list of climate protection measures in the city is indeed growing longer. And yet there is criticism – for example, of the city's climate protection concept, which had already been drawn up seven years ago by the CDU and Green parliamentary groups.
Actually a revision would have been due already long ago, to which for instance the liberals already pointed out. The Freidemokraten criticize the lack of speed in updating the concept also because the state promotes projects for climate protection only if there is a climate protection concept and this is not much older than five years. It is still unclear whether an external specialist office will be commissioned for the new edition – which is unlikely in view of the precarious budget situation – or whether the city councilors will once again become active themselves.
The latter would probably also be Mayor Simon's preference. "It takes longer, but there are many experts in the voluntary politics. Others spend well and gladly amounts of 100,000 euros for it." Who will actually amend the concept, however, is likely to be decided only in the next few months. There is no deadline.
The administration is not only rather passive in the climate protection concept – but also in terms of supra-local networking in climate protection. At least, that's what the opposition complained about before the election. Accordingly, the city participated in conferences of the Hessian initiative "Climate Communities" not participated. It has also not applied for an award for special commitment to climate protection and does not participate in a state database in which municipalities inform each other about their activities. Why not? Simon counters that there is networking: Since 2010, the city has been part of the state government's "100 Communities for Climate Protection" project and participated in the Climate Quarter program.
Is the administration
However, he said, they are focusing more on projects that can be implemented on their own such as energy retrofits, solar installations and LED street lighting in all neighborhoods.
The Greens also demand a climate protection manager who could coordinate all these measures and as it already exists in other municipalities, such as Flörsheim, Eschborn and now also in Kelkheim. The Federal Ministry for the Environment subsidizes the position, which is initially limited to two years, even with 90,000 euros. Simon finds it "interesting and wants to think about it "intensively." He points out, however, that we are already "well networked at the specialist level" be. It doesn't sound like there will be a climate protection manager in Eppstein anytime soon.