Expansion of Cycling in German Cities to Reduce Motorized Private Transport

Academic Paper, 2021

25 Pages, Grade: 1,3


Table of contents

List of abbreviations

List of figures

List of tables

1. Introduction

2. The current state of bicycle traffic in Germany
2.1. Classification of bicycle traffic in the overall German traffic situation
2.2. Advantages of the bicycle
2.3. Disadvantages of the bicycle
2.4. Perception of the population on the current cycling situation

3. Hazard prevention through infrastructural adjustments
3.1. New mobility design bicycle lane marking and separation
3.2. Bicycle highways - save and fast bicycle paths
3.3. Redesign of intersection areas for more safety
3.4. The city toll - Motor traffic regulating measure
3.5. Improving the bicycle volume through combination with the local public transport system

4. SWOT analysis regarding the bicycle suitability of Dresden

5. Conclusion

6. Bibliography


List of abbreviations

Abbildung in dieser Leseprobe nicht enthalten

List of figures

Figure 1 - Good implementation of the design principles (Hunger/Klein 2021)

Figure 2 - Main application areas of cycle highways and challenges (Baker 2018)

Figure 4 - Scheme of a protected crossing (NACTO 2020)

Figure 4 - protected crossing (real concept) (Langer 2020)

List of tables

Table 1 - SWOT Analysis of the city of Dresden (own creation)

1. Introduction

Mobility is an essential requirement for fulfilling certain human needs. These needs can be, for example, daily work to secure our livelihood, education, utilities, or the need for social participation. To satisfy these needs, we humans have to move around. In cities, in particular, these journeys are increasingly having "side effects" such as traffic congestion, traffic accidents, air pollutant emissions, noise, and the resulting health consequences. The scarcity and rising cost of fossil fuels, increasing environmental pollution, and climate change are leading to an intensive discussion about the development of new and forward-looking mobility concepts.

In this scientific paper, the authors, therefore, ask the question: Is it possible to reduce motorized private transport by expanding the bicycle infrastructure in German cities?

The bicycle is an environmentally friendly and health-promoting alternative to motorized private transport and is also more cost-effective. Currently, the bicycle is not yet being used to the extent that it could be. Far too many people resort to the car for a variety of reasons. This paper examines possible reasons, such as safety issues, time, weather, and road users' states of mind, that prevent daily bicycle use.

In the following, measures and guidelines are presented on how it is possible to enable safer, more structured, and more flexible bicycle traffic in German cities and thus exert a positive influence on the overall traffic. The focus is on infrastructural measures such as improved marking of bicycle lanes, the development of bicycle highways or new concepts for crossing areas, the development of a joint concept between public transport and a traffic-regulating fee for motorized private transport. Since a gap in the research on whether these measures can be implemented in the eastern German city of Dresden was found, a SWOT matrix is used to analyze the concrete possibilities that can be implemented and to evaluate possible opportunities and potential risks. The strengths as well as the weaknesses, that emerge from the cityscape, society, and political measures, serve as a basis.

2. The current state of bicycle traffic in Germany

2.1. Classification of bicycle traffic in the overall German traffic situation

In order to assess the impact and potential of cycling in German cities, it is important to record the current traffic situation with the distances traveled. With a final energy consumption of 2739 (BMVI 2021: 304) petajoules out of total energy consumption of 8972 (BMVI 2021: 303) petajoules, the transport sector in Germany is already the largest final energy consumer, accounting for around 31.5%. Consequently, it is a key driver of global environmental problems and global warming. The main cause is the motorized individual transport, which is represented to a large extent in Germany and is directly responsible for the emission of carbon dioxide and nitrogen oxides through its production and the combustion of petroleum.

According to a survey in 2017, 3.2 billion kilometers are traveled on an average day in Germany (BMVI 2019: 3), with bicycles accounting for 12% of total traffic (BMVI 2021: 226). A total of 61% of Germans use their car several times a week, with 28% stating that they use their car daily (Jurczok 2019: 35). Bicycle use is much lower in Germany with only 29% of Germans using their bicycle several times a week and only 15% stating that they use their bicycle daily (Jurczok 2019: 35). These are remarkable figures a study showed that there are more bicycles than cars available in German households. 78% of German households have at least two bicycles and 75% of German households have at least one car (Jurczok 2019: 35). The relatively low use of bicycles can of course be justified by the distance traveled daily, but 58% of Germans cover distances of less than 5km daily (Lenz 2017: Appendix 1). These are short distances for which no motorized individual transport is rationally necessary.

In addition, 32.13% of the German population live in a city with over 100,000 inhabitants (Rudnicka 2019) and thus live in cities with a high density of use, which enables short distances. This is important because a high density of use is a crucial factor in keeping the use of private motorized transport low. An article on everyday mobility in cities describes a significant correlation between usage density and mode of transport choice and that high usage density is associated with a high proportion of active trips (Henrichs 2020: 947). For active and environmentally friendly mobility with low shares of motorized individual transport, good spatial accessibility of supply facilities, training centers, workplaces, and public transport is therefore crucial. The infrastructure of a region thus plays an essential role in active and environmentally-friendly mobility.

Despite the relatively high density of use, however, even in metropolitan areas 24% of the inhabitants drive for distances of 1-2km, and for distances of 2km and more, 37% of traffic participants are drivers, while only 18% use bicycles. The percentages of motorized individual transport are remarkably high values since these are distances that can be covered within 15-30 minutes on foot or in 5-10 minutes by bicycle. (Henrichs 2020: 946)

Currently, the use of bicycles in Germany and German cities compared to other countries or cities such as Copenhagen, Amsterdam or Helsinki is still very low. Bicycle traffic in Germany does not yet have the reputation it should have and, as mentioned at the beginning, only accounts for 12% (BMVI 2021: 226) of the total German traffic volume. To ensure active and environmentally friendly mobility in the future, new approaches and regional infrastructural measures are needed.

2.2. Advantages of the bicycle

The bicycle offers several advantages to society, it rightly stands for flexibility, health, environmental friendliness, and low cost. According to a survey conducted by Fahrradmonitor, 48% of cyclists surveyed said they use a bicycle because of the positive impact it has on their health (Jurczok 2019: 49). According to the World Health Organization (WHO), moderate- to high- intensity physical activity of at least 60 minutes per day is recommended for children and teenagers, and activity of at least 150 minutes (for moderate physical intensity) or 75 minutes (for high physical intensity) per week for adults (Rütten; Pfeiffer 2016: 14). Only about a quarter of children (Finger; et al 2018: 3) and less than half of adults (RKI 2017: 39) achieve the WHO physical activity (moderate intensity) recommendations. Regular cycling can make a decisive contribution to this goal and positively influence the health of the population.

In addition to the positive health effects, the bicycle additionally offers an extremely positive impact on the environment. A survey found that for 56% of respondents, this is one of the main reasons for using a bicycle (Jurczok 2019: 49). The main advantages of cycling over private motorized transport are lower emissions of air pollutants, less noise pollution, and fewer accidents, and the resulting traffic jams, which additionally increase emissions of air pollutants and noise pollution, especially in cities. A representative survey conducted by the Federal Environment Agency showed that 75% of the German population is disturbed by road noise (Henrichs 2021: 945). The positive effects of bicycles on the health and well-being of the population provide an incentive to expand the bicycle infrastructure.

In addition to the long-term effects that have a positive impact on the environment and human health, the bicycle also offers direct advantages in terms of flexibility, speed, and cost. On the one hand, the bicycle requires a lower investment at the time of purchase and is significantly cheaper to maintain than a car due to the lower cost of spare parts, lower tax, lower insurance, and because it does not require fuel. In urban areas, the bicycle has advantages in speed and flexibility for short distances up to two kilometers, since destinations can usually be reached directly and there is no need to search for a parking space, which is often time-consuming and sometimes costly (Henrichs 2021: 946).

2.3. Disadvantages of the bicycle

The bicycle as a means of transport and cycling, in general, offers many advantages. To integrate cycling into the existing transport network in a meaningful way, it is important to know the weaknesses of cycling to be able to assess in which areas the expansion makes sense and with which targeted measures the existing problems can be reduced or circumvented.

The first important point is the distance that can be covered by bicycle. It is a fact that cycling requires physical effort and brings people to their limits at different rates. The average distances of cyclists are for 28% maximum 2km, for 51% between 2-5km, and for 18% between 5-10km, only 3% ride more than 10km (Jurczok 2019: 114). Based on these statistics, it is easy to see that the bicycle is unsuitable for distances over 10km. Possible reasons for a large proportion of the population may be that there are too high gradients in the route or that the route is simply too far and demands too much energy from the cyclist or takes too much time. It is also conceivable that some people choose not to cycle long distances for hygienic reasons; this is a plausible reason on the way to work, for example.

Another obvious disadvantage of cycling compared to cars or public transport is its dependence on the weather. Cycling is dangerous in winter due to black ice and snow and is therefore out of the question for a large number of people. However, people are also dependent on the weather at other times of the year; rain and wind make cycling less attractive because, on the one hand, it poses a safety risk and has a negative impact on a neat and dry appearance.

A final decisive and not negligible disadvantage is the low level of protection. Cyclists are dependent on their correct actions and the correct actions of other road users in direct road traffic. According to a study by the BMVI, 14.7% of accidents were directly caused by cyclists in 2019 (2021: 169). The risk of being seriously injured in an accident with a car, whether self-inflicted or caused by others, is high because you are not protected by the bodywork compared to a car or public transport.

From the main disadvantages of cycling, there are a few important points that must be taken into account when implementing bicycle-friendly transport. To properly assess possible implementations, it is important to study the current situation of the bicycle infrastructure and analyze the needs and desires of the population.

2.4. Perception of the population on the current cycling situation

A survey of German traffic users has shown that over 60% are dissatisfied with the current offer of cycle paths and are calling for an expansion (Jurczok 2019: 59). A 2019 analysis by the German Federal Ministry of Transport and Digital Infrastructure found that Germany has only 50,000km of bike lanes (BMVI 2021: 106), while 630,000km (Kords 2020) of roads are available to motorists. This means that the available possibilities for safe cycling are only 8% of the possible paths for cars.

However, for most road users, the safety aspect is the biggest problem in urban traffic. For 53% of the respondents, bicycle traffic is not sufficiently separated from motorized individual traffic, 26% are explicitly bothered by cars parked directly next to the cycling path, and 37% would like to see crossing areas made more visible. To provide adequate separation from traffic, 44% of potential and current cyclists call for increased protection through highly visible bike lanes. 45% of respondents were also still in favor of the additional separation of cyclists and pedestrians; according to respondents, this desire could be met with the help of bicycle highways. These would separate bicycle traffic from both motorized individual traffic and pedestrians. (Jurczok 2019: 59)

To illustrate the relevance of separating cycling from other road users, especially private motorized traffic, here is a summary of the most common reasons for being unsafe in urban traffic. 68% of the respondents are unsafe due to too much traffic and are unsafe due to inconsiderate drivers. For 59% there are currently too few separate bike lanes and for 34% the existing bike lanes are simply in too poor condition. Concerns are heightened for 56% of respondents by speeding cars and 53% are afraid of car doors suddenly opening from cars that are parked next to the bike lane. General insecurity about bicycling was mentioned by only 11% as a reason why they feel unsafe riding a bike. Overall, 44% of respondents stated that they feel unsafe in urban traffic, and in cities with over 500,000 inhabitants, this ratio is as high as 47% (Jurczok 2019: 70).

That these concerns are justified is shown by the current accident figures related to bicycles. According to the BMVI, 86,900 cyclists were injured as a result of a road accident in 2019 and 445 cyclists died as a result of an accident (2021: 166).

In addition to the various uncertainty factors in urban traffic, the state of mind between road users plays another decisive role. For example, 64% of car drivers state that cyclists are an insecurity factor in road traffic due to their driving behavior. In turn, 80% of cyclists state that car drivers attract their attention negatively in road traffic. Overall, 72% of all traffic participants state that there is a tense relationship between cyclists and other road users. (Jurczok 2019: 72)

These high percentages regarding mutual dissatisfaction between individual road users and cyclists emphasize the urgent need to separate the different road users. In addition to the existing dangers due to the infrastructure, there is additional risk due to the corresponding states of mind caused by frustration, lack of understanding, and the resulting decrease in mutual consideration.

3. Hazard prevention through infrastructural adjustments

3.1. New mobility design bicycle lane marking and separation

People choose the mode of transportation that best fulfills their needs. Thus, if the bicycle is to become the first choice of everyday transportation, it is essential for future bicycling development to increase the objective as well as the subjective safety of cycling. Therefore, promoting bicyclists' subjective perception of their safety is indispensable if one also wants to motivate the remaining 50 to 60 percent of the “interested but concerned”-type to cycle. (Dill/McNeil 2013: 137) However, such an infrastructure is not only dear to the majority of cyclists; much more experienced everyday cyclists would also prefer to be separated from motor vehicle traffic. (Allgemeiner Deutscher Fahrrad-Club e.V. 2019)

Dutch experts have compiled the following basic principles for this: width, visual guidance, feeling, height differences, and obstacles. The wider a cycle path is, the lower the number of possible collisions and serious conflicts. For this, the course of the road and obstacles must be clearly recognizable. This can be achieved, for example, through edge markings and color or by creating a contrast between the cycle path and its curb (side space). In addition, the use of materials that stand out from the rest of the cycle paths surface is recommended, so those special markings can be felt through haptic feedback. Elevation differences create potential hazards. Not recognizing lane edges with a larger height difference can lead to accidents, therefore edges and lane edges should be designed low and sloping or without height differences with only visual separation. Obstacles, such as bollards, should be minimized and if not, then integrated into the cycle path in the most conspicuous and flexible way possible. (Hunger/Klein 2021)

These design principles can be easily understood in Figure 1. The cycle lane is wide enough to allow easy two-way traffic. The grey road surface can be easily distinguished from the green verge and the cobblestone border makes the edges not only visually but also haptically perceptible. The difference in height between the carriageway and the side space is also kept low to reduce the risk of an accident when leaving the path. The bollard is made very distinct from the rest of the cycle lane bya reflective strip and surrounding cobblestones, which also helps to minimize possible collisions during the day and night.

Anmerkung der Redaktion: Diese Abbildung wurde aus urheberrechtlichen Gründen entfernt.

Figure 1 — Good implementation of the design principles (Hunger/Klein 2021)

3.2. Bicycle highways - save and fast bicycle paths

"An important goal of the new infrastructures is to make traveling further distances by bicycle attractive," says Dr. Babara Lenz, head of DLR Institute of Transport and professor of transport geography at Humboldt University in Berlin. In 2013, the distance traveled by bicycle per trip was just 1.5 km for 50% of all trips and 40% were in the 1.5 to 5 km range. (Lenz 2013: 20)

Bicycle highways are links in the bicycle path network of cities and municipalities that connect important destinations with high cycling frequency. These bicycle paths are intended to enable a fast and safe arrival over longer distances. Together with the Netherlands and Denmark, Germany is a pioneer in the construction of cycle paths. Experience from the Netherlands shows that after a cycle highway has been built, 5-15% of car drivers have switched to cycling. The main target group of cycle lanes are commuters, which is why the lanes must be routed with right of way as far as possible and be designed for speeds of at least 30 km/h. (Swiss requirement; North Rhine- Westphalia less so) The good thing is that most cycle highways can be realized in most countries without adapting laws and standards. Cycle expressways should primarily connect important destinations with a high commuter potential. The main area of application would then extend from the agglomeration belt, through the suburbs to the urban quarters. The problem of space and the resulting limited degree of freedom in the design and implementation of cycle highways limits the possibilities in the old or inner city and in rural areas the potential is usually too small for the construction of cycle highways to be proportionate, as illustrated in Figure 2. (Baker 2018)

Abbildung in dieser Leseprobe nicht enthalten

Figure 2 – Main application areas of cycle highways and challenges (Baker 2018)

The state of North Rhine-Westphalia in Germany has defined 9 quality criteria for their planning guide for cycle highways: The average cruising speed should be 20km/h, despite calculated time losses due to stopping and waiting; The cycle fast links should be wide enough so that two oncoming cyclists can easily be overtaken by another third; Cycle and pedestrian traffic are physically separated from each other; The standards for operational and winter maintenance are the same as for state roads; Cycle lanes are routed as directly as possible, without detours and separated from motorized traffic; The surface enables fast and comfortable progress; Signage follows the same standards as for cycle traffic in NRW; Cycle lanes are to be illuminated throughout in built-up areas, outside built-up areas only in special cases; Re-use of uniform design elements to ensure recognizability.

These quality criteria are designed for a capacity of 2000 cyclists per day. Furthermore, the AGFS NRW recommends a minimum width of four meters for a bi-directional cycle track and a width of at least 2.5 meters for attached footpaths, regardless of whether they are uni- or bi-directional. For a roadside cycle track with one-way traffic, a width of at least 3 meters is recommended. (AGFS NRW 2019) These specifications also overlap with those of the SVI, which calculates 80 centimeters per cyclist, whether directional or non-directional. Because of these requirements, cycle lanes are also rather expensive compared to other bicycle infrastructure. In the Netherlands, 0.5 to 2 million euros per kilometer are expected, depending on additional infrastructure such as bridges or tunnels, as well as necessary routing work. (ADAC 2018)


Excerpt out of 25 pages


Expansion of Cycling in German Cities to Reduce Motorized Private Transport
University of Applied Sciences Dresden
Catalog Number
ISBN (eBook)
ISBN (Book)
bicycle traffic, bicycle, Advantages of the bicycle, Disadvantages of the bicycle, bicycle lane marking and separation, Bicycle highways, bicycle paths, Redesign of intersection areas for more safety, city toll, .Improving the bicycle volume through combination with the local public transport system, bicycle suitability of Dresden
Quote paper
Tim Würzburg (Author), 2021, Expansion of Cycling in German Cities to Reduce Motorized Private Transport, Munich, GRIN Verlag, https://www.grin.com/document/1060895


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