Interesting stuff about Germany: culture, travel, news and everyday life

Walking on the Autobahn

Walking on the Autobahn in Germany during Stillleben

This event was a few days ago, but I still wanted to mention it, because I thought it’s a really cool idea. I took a few pictures for you.

The A40 is Germany’s busiest Autobahn, running straight through the Ruhr Area, passing cities such as Duisburg, Essen, Bochum and Dortmund, all within a distance of just 60 kilometres. It is the lifeline of one of Europe’s largest industrial hubs, so to speak.

As you can imagine, the only thing that usually gathers up on that road are masses of cars during rush hour. In fact the A40 is famous for its traffic jams more than anything else.

Not on July 18th 2010, though. That Sunday the entire A40 was blocked for traffic and people were allowed to walk where usually only cars browse by.

Still-Leben A40 Autobahn
walking where usually cars speed by
Still-Leben A40 Autobahn
one lane was reserved for bikes, the other for people on foot

Additionally, there was a long line of 20,000 tables for the entire 60 kilometres, making it the “longest eating table in world”. All kinds of clubs, institutions, bands and artists had a few tables every now and then so people would have something to look at while they strolled along. People were also invited to rent one of the tables and bring their own food. The whole event was called “Still-Leben” (something like quiet life), because of the lack of motor sounds that usually fill the air.

Still-Leben A40 Autobahn
a spray-painter showing his skills

One of the strangest things was probably walking through the various tunnels. The walls are coated with the dust of breaks and tires, which had accumulated through the years, and people would scrape their names into the dust. I can’t imagine breathing that stuff is very healthy, so I didn’t, but since you don’t get a chance to do that too often, I get why many people wanted to do it.

Still-Leben A40 Autobahn
walking through one of the tunnels

It was later announced that the event had attracted 3 million visitors. At some places it even got so crowded that access to the A40 was blocked for a while. Because of the success, organizers are considering to repeat the event in one or two years, or even on a regular basis.

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