Berlin bike strategy reaches for the sky

Berlin has set an ambitious target of growing cycle journeys from 13% of current trips to 25% of journeys by 2025. The target to double growth mirrors London’s, except that in London currently only 2% of journeys are made by bike with a 5% target by 2020.

The German capital plans a 500-mile cycling network by 2020, including 12 Superhighway-style circular routes and eight Superhighway-style routes going in and out of the city.

The Berlin planners are working with neighbouring authorities to create cycling links to the suburbs. These fast, wide cycle routes are designed to attract long-distance cycle commuters using electric-bikes, replacing journeys currently taken by car and public transport. Germany is one of the largest e-bike markets in Europe with over one million units already sold. The city wants to reduce city parking needs and congestion by encouraging more city-wide e-bike and bicycle journeys.

Berlin already has a network of off-carriageway cycle tracks, which have helped make cycling in the city an everyday activity. They combine with cycle-specific traffic lights to reduce conflicts at major junctions. Berlin public transport is cycle-friendly too and visitors report that drivers accept cyclists on the road. Red light jumping by cyclists is very rare.

The city strategy is also encouraging central area deliveries to switch from van to bike delivery. Seeing postmen delivering parcels on cargo bikes isn’t unusual, in sharp contrast to the Royal Mail which has been phasing out bike deliveries in favour of motorised transport.

LCC chair of trustees Ann Kenrick, who visited Berlin recently said: “Their cycle facilities may not be Dutch but the powers that be make life delightfully easy for the everyday cyclist. Many of the London Mayor’s proposals in his Vision for Cycling are already in place there and the results speak for themselves. Of course, Berlin is not London — but cycling through the fabulous central park called the Tiergarten, and thinking about the City Hall announcements, I felt more optimistic than I have for a long time about the future of cycling in London.”

photo credit: Cian Ginty


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