Blissful Biking in Berlin

London Cycling Campaign's Board of Trustees Chair, Ann Kenrick on her recent weekend trip to Berlin, and how the city could be an inspiration for London’s future.


Before I went to Berlin for the weekend I asked around to see if anyone knew if there was an LCC equivalent in Berlin but nobody seemed to know of one.

Having spent a day biking for miles I can see why they don't need one! Their cycle facilities may not be Dutch but the powers that be make life delightfully easy as for the everyday cyclist. Five reasons why cycling in Berlin is bliss:

Special traffic lights so that cyclists get a head start and don't clash with drivers who are turning when you are going straight ahead

Special lanes on the pavements or, if not, clearly delineated areas on the roads – sometimes physically segregated - and I mean all roads – not just main roads

No helmets – cycling feels so everyday and normal that these are a rare sight. Lots of people delivering goods like the postman in this photo travel around by bike making cycling a normal part of life and not something only for the Lycra lads and ladies. The hire bikes even have a little seat on the back for kids.

Integrated transport network – there appears to be a clear recognition that different forms of transport should not compete but be complementary. Berliners can use the excellent public transport system but also pop their bike on the tube if they need to. Their equivalent of the Oyster Card gives you access to the tube, the train, the bus, to order a hire bike or to share a car.

Tolerance by drivers – nearly everyone cycles so most drivers are also cyclists and, as a result, there is an atmosphere of safety rather than aggression…I did not see one cyclist jump a red light.

Many of the London Mayor’s proposals in his ‘cycling vision’ are already in place here and the results speak for themselves – daily bike rides account for 13% of Berlin traffic and there are 400 miles of bike lanes.

Of course Berlin is not London – it was largely built, or rebuilt, in the 19th and 20th centuries to centrally imposed plans with wide streets.Nothing of the sort ever happened in London. But cycling through the snow in the fabulous central park called the Tiergarten and thinking about the recent announcements from City Hall I felt more optimistic than I have for a long time about the future of cycling in London.

So if anyone knows of a cycle campaigning organisation in Germany do let us know – ich mochte wirklich gerne wissen wie Sie haben es geschafft.

Photo captions: Ann on a bike in front of the Berliner Dom; Postman delivering by bike; Bike on the S-bahn; Call a Bikev- solar powered bike hire stand; Sign showing what you get for your transport card.

Become a supporter of London Cycling Campaign - to help make London a more livable city for cyclists and pedestrians (like Berlin).