Are footpaths and shoulders the same

"Talk, talk, talk"

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Previously, hardly any police officer was interested in what the "Local Presence" unit controls. This did not improve the climate on Hamburg's streets. Two and a half years ago, the ADAC found out that many road users here are more dissatisfied with each other than in other cities. In 2019, by the end of August, the people of Hamburg had reported almost as many parking offenders as in the whole of 2018. A high-ranking traffic policeman resigned because traffic monitoring could hardly be done properly - due to a lack of staff. Is the control pressure missing? Quite possible. It will probably increase in the future, because the Hamburg police are pursuing a hiring offensive. According to the police union, there are still too few staff, but the city is on the right track. The training just needs time. Helberg and Hilgendorf make the start. Every beginning is difficult.

The two policemen turn onto Ballindamm. The first cyclist will soon meet them on the footpath. Helberg waves him over: "We'd be here for 55 euros." The cyclist dismounts and says: "Okay, convinced." Apparently Helberg doesn't believe him. There could be an accident here very quickly, in which a pedestrian injured himself, he explains, then it is even a criminal offense. In the worst case, he would have to answer to a judge, and nobody could want that. "Please show consideration." If the cyclist agrees, Helberg waives the fine.

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In front of Hapag-Lloyd, the next one comes on his bike, squeaks and slides on. "Well, bad brakes?" Calls Helberg. "Don't drive here. On the road please!" A few meters further: another one. Where should he go if not here? On the road, says Helberg. There is no cycle lane there, says the man. But there is no bike path here, says Helberg. The man should please pay attention to the corresponding sign in the future. The Ballindamm is coming to an end, but not Helberg's patience. All sidewalk cyclists get away with no fine on this day.

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Helberg and Hilgendorf consider this to be more sustainable. The principle of opportunity applies to administrative offenses: They can, but do not have to be, punished. "We try to rely on insight," says Helberg. "We want to make it clear to people what can happen." Most of the time it works. If not, then he gets angry. And try again next time. Helberg and Hilgendorf describe their task as follows: "Talk, talk, talk."

Sometimes, however, even they no longer know what to talk to and with whom. On the way back to the station you will pass the Stadthausbr├╝cke. A truck is parked on the cycle lane, the driver exchanges the Dixie toilets at a construction site. A construction site transporter is in its loading zone. "I can understand the cyclists," says Helberg. "But I can also understand the supplier. He can't park around the corner and take the toilets on his shoulder." There is simply too little space. He shrugs. "So I show understanding."

Perhaps the people of Hamburg can still learn something from Lars Helberg.