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Germany opens first stretch of bicycle ‘autobahn’

Study estimates track should take 50,000 cars off the roads every day

AFP reports that Germany has just opened the first 5km stretch of a traffic-free bicycle highway that is set to span over 100km. Running largely along disused railroad tracks, the network will connect 10 western cities in the Ruhr region.

Cities to be linked include Duisburg, Bochum and Hamm as well as four universities. Martin Toennes of regional development group RVR said that almost two million people live within 2km of the route and will be able to use sections for commuting. A study by the group calculates the track should take 50,000 cars off the roads every day.

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Munich is also planning a series of four-metre wide, two-way segregated lanes, unsullied by crossroads or traffic lights and Birgit Kastrup, who is in charge of the project, said it was important to find a means of funding them. Further bicycle highways are in the pipeline for Berlin and Frankfurt. Most will feature lit paths which will be cleared of snow in winter.

In Germany, cycling infrastructure is the responsibility of local authorities. For the first 5km stretch of track in the Ruhr region, the cost was shared, with the European Union funding half, North Rhine-Westphalia state contributing 30 per cent and the RVR investing 20 per cent.

Toennes said that talks were ongoing to raise the €180 million needed for the entire 100km route. "Without support, the project would have no chance," he said. The state government is therefore said to be planning legislation to take the burden off municipalities. Berlin, meanwhile, is looking into a private financing model based in part on advertising along its routes.

Alex has written for more cricket publications than the rest of the team combined. Despite the apparent evidence of this picture, he doesn't especially like cake.

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Twowheelsaregreat | 8 years ago

My experience of cycling through north Germany echoes those of others here. The cycling paths were really bad with tree roots breaking up the path amongst other obstacles. Now the problem is that the infrastructure has been provided and as a cyclist you're expected to use it regardless of the state that it's in. If you ride on the road to avoid the poor state of the cycle paths be prepared for an HGV to come thundering up behind you, braking, if at all, at the very last minute with horn blaring.
You'll soon appreciate how tolerant the Brits are with having to share the roads with other users. I really didn't enjoy cycling through north Germany.
I do wish that in Britain that when new railways are constructed they also plan in cycle paths alongside these, obviously fenced off. The flattened terrain is ideal for cycling and this would be good for long distance cycling. Bikes and trains go very well together in my opinion.
However, something that piqued my interest in this article "50% funded by the European Union". Ouch

Gary R. Collins AIA | 8 years ago
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I have done a little long distance biking, but it has been my experience that bikes are employed primarily and most efficiently (recreational use often excepted) for local, relatively short-range travel.  In the U.S. and elsewhere, we need to do a better job of providing for safe intra-urban bike routes.  I'd be more interested in getting cross-town daily in one piece than in traveling between cities.  Few will be willing to ride more than 20-30 minutes to work daily, less for shopping unless part of a regular circuit.  Serve the taxpayers where they live.

jimm | 8 years ago

Article FAIL - the photo is of the cykelslangen - bicycle snake - in Copenhagen, Denmark.  Been around for at least 6 months.  It passes alongside the Fisketorvet shopping center to allow cyclists easier access from a nearby train bridge crossing, to a cycle-only canal bridge.  I know this how?  I live in the area.   10

durrin | 8 years ago

Sounds great, but the devil is always in the details of implementation. I'm sure the politician that announced the cycle superhighways in London made them sound great too.

My personal experience of riding in German cities does not show any sense of bicycle oriented design whatsoever.

BTW: the picture is of cykelslangen (the bicycle snake) in Copenhagen, not in Germany.

yingyang20 | 8 years ago

The germans do these kinds of things well...........other countries in Europe need to follow.

jimm replied to yingyang20 | 8 years ago

yingyang20 wrote:

The germans do these kinds of things well...........other countries in Europe need to follow.


The Germans hardly do it well.  City infrastructure is chaotic at best, and added as an after thought, often just subtracting space from the pedestrian sidewalk for cycles or cramming a lane next to the gutter/drain on auto centric roads.  Cycling between cities is a little better, until you realize some nut thought it was a good idea to plant the trees along the cycle lanes <i>right next to the lanes themselves</i> and then forgetting that trees grow, causing all sorts of damage to the lane, making it difficult, if not impossible to use at any speed above walking pace.

The countries that really deserve the recognitioin are The Netherlands, Denmark, and large parts of Sweden.  It is in those places where cycling infrastructure is actually thought-out (for the most part... there are some exceptions that would puzzle your brain).

The Netherlands especially should get focus on their 'çycle autobahns' that have been around for ages - often wide enough for two cyclists to ride side-by-side in both directions.

CXR94Di2 | 8 years ago

See they think big and get big results, removing the potential of 50000 vehicles each day

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