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Rhine promenade neglected in Bonn

Praktisch, aber nicht schön und selten zu finden sind Mülleimer an der Bonner Uferpromenade.

Rubbish bins on the Bonn river bank are unattractive and hard to find.

Bonn. There will not be a complete upgrade of Bonn’s Rhine bank before the Beethoven Anniversary, although this is urgently needed. The route from the city centre to the Rhine is a big problem.

A walk along the banks of the Rhine in Bonn is not always a pleasure. At times, the asphalt is like a patchwork quilt in changing colours. Stones have crumbled off a wall near the Kennedy Bridge and a wire fence now secures the site. The Office for City Greenery has planted attractively at the “Zum Rheinblick” beer garden near the beautifully restored Alter Zoll and also in other places, but the grass in front of the Opera House appears unkempt.

The banks of the Rhine along the city centre are not always beautiful to look at. The debate about how it could be upgraded and at the same time better connected to the city centre has been going on for a long time. The Inner City Master Plan, published in 2012, is a source of ideas. However, the director of city planning, Helmut Wiesner, announced last year that “a new face” for the Rhine bank would be addressed at the earliest after the Beethoven Festival for the 250th anniversary of the composer’s birth in 2020. After all, visitors did not want to stroll through building sites. However, cosmetic improvements are possible in the next two years.

Anneliese Koch, who came by boat from Linz, stands puzzled at Brassertufer in front of a city map. “I’m looking for the city centre, but can’t find my location,” she says. In fact, the position is not marked. She has not noticed the red signs a few metres away. Kerstin and Martin Stankowski are tourists and on a day trip to Bonn. “It is actually quite nice here on the Rhine,” says the 57-year-old woman, “but in some places the promenade looks quite scruffy.” It bothers her husband that there are so few rubbish bins. “Then it’s no wonder that there’s rubbish all over the path in the evenings.”

Michael (22) is a student from the USA and is completing a visiting semester in Bonn. He first got lost when he wanted to get from the university to the banks of the Rhine. He has little feel for aesthetics, concedes the American with a laugh, so it does not bother him if some parts of the promenade seem neglected. “It’s just a real shame that it’s so hard to find your way here,” he said, echoing the opinion of Michael Schlösser. The Bonn hotelier and chairman of the local hotel and restaurant association (Dehoga) recently reported in an interview with the GA that many of his guests also complained about the poor access to the banks of the Rhine. Schlösser also complained, “You won’t find a public toilet along the entire promenade. That’s embarrassing for Bonn.”

Claudia and Claus Hardy, who run the “Zum Rheinblick” beer garden agree: “Urinating in public and young people swearing has become a problem in the last three years,” they say. Tourists from boats also ask them the way into the city every day because it is not well signposted. Ines Knye, chairwoman of the Association of German Architects (BDA) Bonn/Rhine-Sieg regrets that nothing has happened despite years of discussions about the promenade.

The BDA had hoped in vain that the regional structural programme “Stadt zum Rhein” 2008 and the inner city master plan issued in 2012 would give impetus to the debate. “Unfortunately, the city of Bonn has so far not used the Rhine at all as an incentive or a positive image,” says the architect. “Someone standing on the Marktplatz does not know where the Rhine is. And when you know, you can’t get there properly.” Knye thinks the promenade itself is a “renovation project” with the old concrete tubs, raised cobbles and the patched paths.

Original text: Lisa Inhoffen, Philipp Königs and Martin Wein. Translation: kc