On the Move (2018 | Issue 1)

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Cycling in Germany

Cycling is an integral part of German culture. You can see people making their way to work on bicycles, using them to run errands or for getting fit. After all, cycling is good for the health, the environment and it sure is fun! What’s Up, Germany? celebrates this invention and the extensive bicycle network in Germany.

Cycling is cool in Deutschland. Customised bicycles are fashion statements in their own right. And urban cyclists are considered hip and environmentally conscious. The number of people who use the bicycle as their main means of transport is growing in cities. According to the Federal Statistics Office, 30 percent of all households in German cities with a population of more than 500,000 use only a bicycle—they neither own a car or motorbike. The Berliners have taken it a step further: It is estimated that there are 710 cycles per 1,000 people in Berlin. Electric bicycles have become really popular among the young for long commutes.

Here’s to Hiring!

The best things is, one needn’t even own a bicycle; there are bicycle-sharing services that allow one to borrow it for free or for a nominal amount. In Berlin, the Deutsche Bahn (German Railway) runs a hiring system by the name of Call a Bike. Riders on the S-Bahn and U-Bahn even get to hop on with their cycles once they’ve bought a ticket for their two wheels! Germany is that cycle happy!

Bicycle Autobahns

That’s right! Autobahns exclusively for bicycles is next on Germany’s agenda! The envisaged cycle highway will follow abandoned rail routes and flat areas, and will eventually cover 100 kilometres and connect ten cities in the Ruhr region. Once complete, it will be the longest bicycle highway in Europe and is expected to remove 50,000 cars from the road. The first stretch between Duisberg and Hamm, which is around five kilometres, is already functional. Meanwhile, other major cities like Munich, Hamburg, Nuremburg and Frankfurt have also jumped on board and have begun feasibility studies to see if they too can have their own cycle highways.

Two-wheeled Travel

With more than 200 dedicated long-distance cycle routes, Germany is a paradise for vacationers who prefer to see the country on their bicycles. There are scenic routes in the lush countryside, along rivers and vineyards. Most of them are peppered with culinary stops, monuments and breathtaking natural sights, making it a compelling experience. Bicycle-friendly accommodation is available, as are travel agencies that offer guided bicycle tours. The Allgemeiner Deutscher Fahrrad-Club or the German Cyclists’ Association publishes a list of “Bett+Bike” accommodations and has information centres in 80 cities across Germany, all raring to help a fellow cyclist in need.

Check out the German National Tourism Board’s Top 10 cycle trails.

If you happen to be in Germany, block your calendar for these sporting events:

14–15 April VELOBerlin bicycle festival (Berlin Tempelhof Airport)

8–9 June Motorsport XL Weekend (Nürburgring)

16–24 June Kiel Week (sailing championship)

6–8 July BMW Motorrad Days (Garmisch-Partenkirchen)

20–22 July Formula 1 German Grand Prix (Hockenheimring)

27–29 July Rad am Ring bicycle race (Nürburgring)

23–26 August Deutschland Tour (professional cycling)

3–7 October INTERMOT: International Motorcycle, Scooter and E-Bike Fair (Cologne)

“Bicycles are the most efficient vehicles on the planet, 50 times more efficient than cars, and twice as efficient as walking.”
— Godo Stoyke, author & environmental researcher