Berlin to introduce new traffic light countdown system

Berlin to introduce new traffic light countdown system

The German capital has begun to roll out its new countdown traffic light system, which aims to make crossing more safe for pedestrians. But people are a bit confused about how it works.

New countdown traffic lights for Berlin

Don’t worry, the Ampelmann isn’t going anywhere, he’s only in certain parts of town anyway, but some of Berlin’s pedestrian traffic lights are set to get an upgrade. 

From 2024, the green light for pedestrians will be displayed briefly before a stack of five white bars is shown. The number of bars will decrease as the time counts down until cars can go again, then pedestrians will see the red light.

The new design will be used on 2.100 traffic lights and has already been adopted on some roads. While the CDU-led government hopes the lights will improve the safety of pedestrians in Berlin, the new design has been met with some criticism for being confusing. 

“It is not self-explanatory,” a passerby told Tagesshau, “You have to go over several times before you figure out how the traffic light works.”  Another interviewee added, “I don’t think anyone knows what the last bar means.”

Critics call the traffic light revamp a waste of money

Alongside the unnecessary confusion, a number of critics have called the adoption of the new traffic light system a waste of money and time on a problem that does not exist.

Based on figures reported by Tagesspiegel, the project will cost over 60 million euros. Speaking to the broadcaster, a traffic specialist for Germany’s Association for Environment and Conservation (NABU) said that the plan was a “pointless and annoying waste of money”. 

Similar accusations have come from the Left Party, with critics saying that the money should instead be put into adding more zebra crossings or traffic islands in the city’s streets.

Thumb image credit: Aaro Kajaste /

Olivia Logan


Olivia Logan

Editor for Germany at IamExpat Media. Olivia first came to Germany in 2013 to work as an Au Pair. Since studying English Literature and German in Scotland, Freiburg and Berlin...

Read more



Leave a comment