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This article presents six detailed case studies of cycling in the Netherlands (Amsterdam and Groningen), Denmark (Copenhagen and Odense), and Germany (Berlin and Muenster). Except for Berlin, they represent the very best in coordinated policies and programs to make cycling safe, convenient, and attractive. Not only are cycling levels extraordinarily high in these cities, but virtually everyone cycles: women as well as men, the old and the young, the rich and the poor. Moreover, they cycle for a wide range of daily, practical trips purposes and not mainly for recreation. Berlin is a special case. It does not even approach the five other cities in their cycling orientation. Nevertheless, its recent measures to encourage cycling have achieved an impressive bike share of trips for such a large city, higher than any other European city of that size. Thus, all six of the bicycling case study cities examined in this article truly are at the frontiers of cycling. They have many lessons to offer other cities in the Western World about the best ways to encourage more cycling.
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At the Frontiers of Cycling:
Policy Innovations in the Netherlands,
Denmark, and Germany
by John Pucher and Ralph Buehler
Bloustein School of Planning and Public Policy
Rutgers University
33 Livingston Avenue, Room 363
New Brunswick, New Jersey 08904 USA
Tel: 001-732-932-3822, ext. 722
Fax: 001-732-932-2253
Email: pucher@rci.rutgers.edu; JohnPucher@gmail.com;
ralphbu@eden.rutgers.edu; Ralph.Buehler@gmail.com
http://www.policy.rutgers.edu/faculty/pucher.html
Abstract
This article presents six detailed case studies of cycling in the Netherlands
(Amsterdam and Groningen), Denmark (Copenhagen and Odense), and Germany
(Berlin and Muenster). Except for Berlin, they represent the very best in
coordinated policies and programs to make cycling safe, convenient, and attractive.
Not only are cycling levels extraordinarily high in these cities, but virtually everyone
cycles: women as well as men, the old and the young, the rich and the poor.
Moreover, they cycle for a wide range of daily, practical trips purposes and not
mainly for recreation. Berlin is a special case. It does not even approach the five
other cities in their cycling orientation. Nevertheless, its recent measures to
encourage cycling have achieved an impressive bike share of trips for such a large
city, higher than any other European city of that size. Thus, all six of the bicycling
case study cities examined in this article truly are at the frontiers of cycling. They
have many lessons to offer other cities in the Western World about the best ways to
encourage more cycling.
18 November 2007
Paper for publication in World Transport Policy and Practice, December 2007
Pucher and Buehler At the Frontiers of Cycling 2
At the Frontiers of Cycling: Policy
Innovations in the Netherlands, Denmark,
and Germany
by John Pucher and Ralph Buehler
Rutgers University
Email: pucher@rci.rutgers.edu, ralph.buehler@gmail.com
http://www.policy.rutgers.edu/faculty/pucher.html
Introduction
Cities in the Netherlands, Denmark, and Germany have cycling levels that
are among the highest in the world. Over the past three decades, they have
succeeded in raising the total number of bike trips while decreasing the number of
cyclist fatalities and injuries. The cycling successes of these cities may provide
valuable lessons for cities in other countries of Europe, North America, and
Australia precisely because they are similar in so many other ways. They are all
democratic, capitalist, affluent societies with nearly universal car ownership. The
experiences of the Netherlands, Denmark, and Germany show that cycling can
thrive even when people have the freedom to make their own travel choices and can
easily afford motorized transport. The success of cycling does not depend on
poverty, dictatorial regimes, or the lack of transport options to force people onto
bikes. It does, however, depend crucially on a wide range of supportive government
policies to make cycling convenient and safe.
This article provides detailed case studies of cycling in six cities: two in the
Netherlands (Amsterdam and Groningen), two in Denmark (Copenhagen and
Pucher and Buehler At the Frontiers of Cycling 3
Odense), and two in Germany (Berlin and Muenster). The largest city in each
country is also the capital. The smaller city is of intermediate size, but in every case,
it is the most bicycling oriented city in the country, with the highest bike share of
trips. By examining cycling in cities of different sizes, we show that cycling can be a
practical, safe, and convenient way to get around cities of virtually any size.
The focus in each case study is on the wide range of integrated, mutually
supporting policies and programs that are used to promote cycling. To some extent,
the cycling successes of the six cities rely on more and better implementation of the
same sorts of traditional policies that many other European cities use. In addition,
however, the case study cities examined here have been particularly innovative,
introducing new approaches to encouraging cycling and making it safer.
In most countries throughout the world, cycling policies and programs are
considered primarily, if not exclusively, a local government issue, with only limited
state and central government involvement. That is certainly true in Denmark. In
the Netherlands and Germany, state and central governments provide financial
support for cycling facilities and assist with planning and research activities. In
every country, however, the ultimate success or failure of cycling rests with local
governments. They are responsible for implementing the key transport and land
use policies that establish the necessary supportive environment for cycling to
thrive. For example, city and county governments in the Netherlands, Germany,
and Denmark have been planning, constructing, and funding bicycling facilities for
many decades, at least since the 1970s, but much earlier in some cities.
Municipalities make the specific plans that reflect the particular conditions and
Pucher and Buehler At the Frontiers of Cycling 4
needs of the local context. Cycling training, safety, and promotional programs are
usually carried out at the local level as well, even if they are mandated and funded
by higher levels. Thus, this article focuses on the local government policies and
programs that are so crucial to the success of cycling.
Before presenting the six case studies, we provide a brief overview of cycling
in the Netherlands, Denmark, and Germany. The success of cycling in the six case
study cities is exceptional from an international perspective but not so unusual in
their own countries.
National Overviews of Cycling
As shown in Figure 1, there are enormous differences in levels of cycling
among the countries of Western Europe, North America, and Australia.
Netherlands tops them all with 27% of all trips by bike. Denmark comes in second
with a bike share of 18%. Germany is roughly tied with Finland and Sweden at
10%. Our three case study countries are far ahead of most other European
countries and much farther ahead of the USA and Australia, where cycling accounts
for about one percent of trips.
Most cycling in the Netherlands, Denmark, and Germany is for practical,
utilitarian purposes. Travel to work or school accounts for 32% of bike trips in the
Netherlands, 35% in Denmark, and 25% in Germany. Shopping trips account for
22% of bike trips in the Netherlands, 25% in Denmark, and 20% in Germany
(German Federal Ministry of Transport, 2003; Danish Ministry of Transport, 2007;
Dutch Ministry of Transport, 2006). Only about a fourth of bike trips in these three
Pucher and Buehler At the Frontiers of Cycling 5
countries are for purely recreational purposes, compared to three three-fourths of
bike trips in the USA (U.S. Department of Transportation, 2003).
Dutch, Danish, and German cyclists comprise virtually all segments of
society. For example, women are just about as likely to cycle as men. Women make
45% of all bike trips in Denmark, 49% in Germany, and 55% in the Netherlands
(German Federal Ministry of Transport, 2003; Danish Ministry of Transport, 2007;
Statistics Netherlands, 2005). Another dimension of cycling’s universality in the
Netherlands, Denmark, and Germany is the representation of all age groups.
Children and adolescents have the highest rates of cycling in almost every country.
As shown in Figure 2, however, cycling levels in the Netherlands, Denmark, and
Germany remain high even among the elderly. Finally, rates of cycling are similar
among different income classes in these three countries, with the number of bike
trips per day falling only slightly with increasing income (German Federal Ministry
of Transport, 2003; Statistics Netherlands, 2005; Dutch Bicycling Council, 2006). In
short, cycling in the Netherlands, Denmark, and Germany is for women as well as
men, all age groups, all income classes, and all trip purposes.
One important reason for the universality of cycling in these three countries
is the relative safety of cycling compared to other countries. As shown in Figure 3,
the Netherlands has the lowest cyclist fatality rate. Averaged over the years 2002 to
2005, the number of bicyclist fatalities per 100 million km cycled was 1.1 in the
Netherlands, 1.5 in Denmark, and 1.7 in Germany, compared to 3.6 in the UK and
5.8 in the USA. Thus, cycling is over three times as safe in the Netherlands as in the
UK and more than five times as safe as in the USA. That might explain why the
Pucher and Buehler At the Frontiers of Cycling 6
Dutch do not perceive cycling as a dangerous way to get around. Cycling in
Germany and Denmark is not quite as safe as in the Netherlands, but still 3-4 times
safer than in the USA and twice as safe as in the UK. The relative safety of cycling
in the Netherlands, Denmark, and Germany helps explain the higher levels of
cycling there, especially among women, children, and the elderly. Those groups are
probably the most vulnerable and the most sensitive to traffic dangers (Garrard et
al, 2007).
While safety surely encourages cycling, there is strong evidence that more
cycling facilitates safer cycling. The phenomenon of ‘safety in numbers’ has been
consistently found to hold over time and across cities and countries. Fatality rates
per trip and per km are much lower for countries and cities with high bicycling
shares of total travel, and fatality rates fall for any given country or city as cycling
levels rise (Jacobsen, 2003).
The much safer cycling in the Netherlands, Denmark, and Germany is
definitely not due to widespread use of safety helmets. On the contrary, in the
Netherlands, with the safest cycling of any country, less than one percent of adult
cyclists wear helmets, and even among children, only 3-5% wear helmets (Dutch
Bicycling Council, 2006; Netherlands Ministry of Transport, 2006). The Dutch
cycling experts and planners interviewed for this paper adamantly oppose laws to
require the use of helmets, claiming that helmets discourage cycling by making it
less convenient, less comfortable, and less fashionable. They also mention the
possibility that helmets make cycling more dangerous by giving cyclists a false sense
of safety and thus encouraging riskier riding behavior. At the same time, helmets
Pucher and Buehler At the Frontiers of Cycling 7
might reduce the consideration motorists give cyclists, since they might seem less
vulnerable if wearing helmets (Walker, 2007).
German and Danish cycling planners seem far more supportive of increased
helmet use, especially among children. There have been extensive promotional
campaigns in these two countries to encourage more helmet use, but there are no
laws requiring helmet use, not even for young children. In 2002, 33% of German
children aged 6-10 years wore helmets while cycling, compared to only 9% of
adolescents aged 11-16, and only 2% of Germans aged 17 or older. In 2006, 66% of
Danish school children aged 6-10 wore helmets, compared to 12% among school
children 11 years or older, and less than 5% among adults (Andersen, 2005;
Boehme, 2005; City of Muenster, 2004; Danish Ministry of Transport, 2000;
German Federal Ministry of Transport, 2002).
We now turn to the six detailed city case studies of cycling, grouped by
country: first the Netherlands, then Denmark, and finally Germany.
Case Studies of Cycling in the Netherlands
More than any other country in the Western World, the Netherlands is
famous for its high levels of cycling. Almost every Dutch city is served by extensive
cycling facilities, and the widespread presence of cyclists is an integral part of the
urban landscape, central to the very image of Dutch cities. We have chosen two
cities to examine in detail: Amsterdam and Groningen. Amsterdam is the largest
Dutch city and is famous throughout the world for its bike-oriented culture.
Groningen, in the far north of the Netherlands, is far less well known, but it has the
highest bike share of travel of any Dutch city.
Pucher and Buehler At the Frontiers of Cycling 8
Amsterdam1
Bikes have shaped the image of Amsterdam to such an extent that, for many
people throughout the world, Amsterdam is almost synonymous with cycling. In
2005, cycling accounted for 37% of all vehicle trips—a bike mode share unheard of
in other European cities of comparable size (City of Amsterdam, 2007).
With a population of 743,000, Amsterdam is the largest city in the
Netherlands. The greater Amsterdam region has 1.5 million inhabitants and is
situated at the northern end of the Randstad, the Netherlands’ largest urban
agglomeration.
Amsterdam’s city administration estimates that there were 600,000 bikes in
Amsterdam in 2006, about 0.75 bikes per inhabitant (City of Amsterdam, 2007).
Amsterdam’s topography and spatial development patterns are ideal for cycling.
The city is mostly flat and densely built-up. Mixed use neighborhoods keep trip
distances relatively short. Furthermore, many small bike bridges and bike short
cuts make it easy to navigate the city center by bike. By comparison, car use is
difficult in the central city. There are few car parking spaces, and many cul-de-sacs
and one way streets hinder car travel.
Given high bike ownership levels, restrictive policies on car use, compact and
mixed-use development patterns, it is no wonder that in 2003 fifty percent of
Amsterdam’s inhabitants made daily use of their bikes (City of Amsterdam, 2003a).
Over 85% of Amsterdam’s residents rode their bike at least once a week in 2003.
1 Information on cycling in Amsterdam was collected directly from Dutch transport planners and cycling
experts. The main bicycling planner for Amsterdam, Ria Hilshorst, provided extensive information,
corrections, and valuable feedback on this case study of cycling in Amsterdam. Information was also
collected from the following published sources: City of Amsterdam (2003a; 2003b; 2007); Dutch Bicycling
Council (2006); Osberg et al. (1998); and Langenberg (2000).
Pucher and Buehler At the Frontiers of Cycling 9
Bicycling is almost universal in Amsterdam. The rich and the poor, men and
women, children and the elderly, all use the bicycle for a minimum of 20% of their
trips (City of Amsterdam, 2003b). Two noteworthy variations in bike usage exist,
however. First, the affluent cycle more than the poor in Amsterdam. Higher car
ownership levels in affluent households lead one to expect more car use in this
income group compared to poorer households. Bike planners in Amsterdam
speculate that lower income groups see the car as an important status symbol, while
they view the bicycle as a “poor man’s” vehicle. Consequently, they prefer to drive
instead of cycle. Bike planners argue that richer households find the bicycle to be a
fast, healthy and convenient means of transportation without a stigma attached to it.
Secondly, recent immigrants and their children also cycle less than the
average resident of Amsterdam (Dutch Bicycling Council, 2006). Amsterdam’s bike
planners found that cycling is often not part of the original culture of immigrants.
Therefore cycling is not their transport mode of choice in the Netherlands either.
The city council tries to promote bike use through special programs for immigrants
and their children.
Travel trends
Similar to Copenhagen, Amsterdam has a long tradition of cycling. In 1955,
up to 75% of all trips in Amsterdam were made by bicycle. From 1955 to 1970 the
cycling mode share had declined to only 25% of all trips (Dutch Bicycling Council,
2006; Langenberg, 2000). Declining levels of cycling were accompanied by
increasing suburbanization and growing car ownership and use. However, most
Pucher and Buehler At the Frontiers of Cycling 10
other European cities of comparable size would be proud of a bike mode share of
25%.
Since the late 1960s and early 1970s, bicycle advocates and environmentalists
have promoted bicycle use in the city. Their main concerns were air and noise
pollution, traffic congestion, and unsafe traffic conditions caused by automobile use
in the city. At the time, there were two competing solutions to Amsterdam’s traffic
problems: adapting the development patterns and city structure to the automobile
or limiting car access to the city center and promoting walking, cycling, and public
transportation. The city council chose to promote alternative modes of transport
over widening roads and building car parking garages in the city center.
Finally in 1978, a newly elected city council focused on bicycling as an
integral tool for solving the city’s transport problems. Since the early 1970s bicycle
use has been increasing. It reached 31% of all vehicle trips in the mid 1980s, and
was at 37% of all vehicle trips in 2005 (City of Amsterdam, 2007). Over the same
period of time, the mode share for public transport declined, however (27% in 1985,
22% in 2005). The percentage of trips made by car remained almost unchanged
from 1985 to 2005 (42% in 1985, 41% in 2005) (Dutch Bicycling Council, 2006; City
of Amsterdam, 2007). This indicates that increased levels of cycling were most likely
in expense of lower levels of transit use and walking. Bicycling in Amsterdam is
used for all trip purposes: for 34% of work trips, 33% of shopping trips and 27% of
leisure trips in 2003.
In 2000, over half (55%) of all vehicle trips in the historic city center were by
bike. Cordon counts at important intersections in the city center support this
Pucher and Buehler At the Frontiers of Cycling 11
number. They also reveal an increase of up to 20% in the number of bike trips from
1986 to 2000 (City of Amsterdam, 2003b).
As in most other cities, bicycling levels decline with distance to the city
center. In 2000, 40% of trips were made by bike in inner ring city districts; and
21% of all trips were by bike in more suburban districts built after World War II.
From 1986 to 2000 bicycling levels decreased by around 10% in these outlying
areas.
Overall policy goals
Non-motorized modes of transport are at the center of Amsterdam’s
transport policy. Even though the city’s main transport policy goal is to increase
accessibility by all modes, concerns about quality of life and air pollution give the
bicycle a special role in transportation planning. In 2006, the main area of concern
for cyclists were bicycle theft, shortage of safe bike parking facilities, traffic safety,
and relatively long waiting times at signalized intersections.
Following its bicycle policy plan “Choosing for Cyclist: 2007-2010”, the city
has started to try to address these problems by increasing bike parking facilities,
combating bicycle theft, improving and promoting traffic safety, completing and
improving the bike network and getting young people to bike more (City of
Amsterdam, 2007). From 2007 to 2010, about €40 million of city funds will be spent
on bicycling projects, not including additional measures to increase traffic safety.
Together with matching funds from other levels of government the total amount of
funding for bicycling will increase to €70 million over 4 years. This comes to about
€13 per inhabitant per year, which is comparable with other Dutch cycling cities.
Pucher and Buehler At the Frontiers of Cycling 12
About €12 million are set aside to improve bike parking facilities and guarded
bicycle garages. Furthermore, traffic calmed areas (with a speed limit of 30km/h)
are to be expanded. Amsterdam will invest €500,000 for bike education, public
relations campaigns and other activities designed to increase bicycling among young
people and other groups of society that tend to cycle less often (City of Amsterdam,
2007). The city also wants to replace on-road bike lanes with separate bike paths.
The city is making efforts to integrate bike and transport planning across all
city districts and across many departments of the city administration. For example,
efforts are being made to integrate transport and spatial development plans. The
main responsibility for carrying out bicycle projects lies with the city districts. This
results in slight differences in implementation of bike projects and bike
infrastructure among the different areas of the city. The traffic and transport
infrastructure department (DIVV) tries to coordinate and harmonize all bicycling
efforts city wide.
Amsterdam recently launched a comprehensive program to combat bike
theft. In 2006, about 50,000 bikes were stolen in Amsterdam (almost 10% of all
bikes!). That might seem like a lot, but it is in fact a 37.5% decrease compared to
2001 and can be considered a first success in combating bike theft. Amsterdam’s
bike policy postulates the goal to further reduce bike theft to 6% of all bikes by 2010
(City of Amsterdam, 2007).
To help to achieve this goal, the city has a comprehensive approach
consisting of official bike registration, collaboration with bike stores, and strict
police checks for bike ownership will. Amsterdam has invested €5 million since
Pucher and Buehler At the Frontiers of Cycling 13
2002 and plans to invest €4 million over the next 4 years into bike registration and
police checks (City of Amsterdam, 2007). For example, the city actively promotes
engraving unique codes into the bike frame. Engraving is free and engraved bikes
are registered with the police. Based on this unique registration code, stolen bikes
can be returned to their owner and police can detect stolen bikes during bike
checks. The city even has a special webpage especially for this program and other
bike theft issues (http://www.fietsendiefstal.nl/english/index.html).
Amsterdam’s bicycle stores have adopted a new policy, not to repair, buy or
resell any bike that could potentially be stolen. Additionally, Amsterdam police are
stepping up checks of bikes on the road. In 2006, over 70,000 cyclists were checked
for ownership status and potential bike theft.
Safety
As in most of our case study cities traffic safety increased for cyclists over the
last few decades. In 2005, there were 40% fewer severe cyclist injuries and deaths
from traffic accidents than during the mid 1980s. Even though progress has been
made, between 6 and 7 cyclists are still killed in traffic accidents in Amsterdam
every year. As already described in the case study about Groningen, bicycle safety
is important in the Netherlands. It does not revolve around bicycle helmets,
however. In the Netherlands, bicycle helmets are seen as unattractive and therefore
potentially discouraging cycling. Additionally, bike planners argue that bike helmets
might lead cyclists to behave more dangerously, as they feel less vulnerable. Finally,
bike planners point out that car drivers use less care when interacting with cyclists
wearing helmets.
Pucher and Buehler At the Frontiers of Cycling 14
Dutch traffic laws protect young cyclists and put the responsibility for an
accident on the car driver. The only exception is when cyclists deliberately and
flagrantly disobey traffic laws. Similar to Germany, Dutch traffic laws postulate
that car drivers have to take special care when encountering children and the
elderly.
Provision of cycling facilities
In 2007, the city of Amsterdam had a total of 450km of bike paths and lanes.
In contrast to cities like Copenhagen, where bike paths and lanes have a long
history, most paths and lanes in Amsterdam have been built since the early 1980s.
In 2007, the city’s bike infrastructure was made up of 200km of separate bike paths
throughout the city and 200km of bike lanes along 30 km/h traffic calmed
neighborhood streets. There were 50km of bike paths along roads with speed limits
of 50 km/h. In addition, Amsterdam had about 775 km of traffic calmed streets in
2000. Over the coming years, the city plans to expand the main bicycle network by
about 40 – 50 km of paths and lanes and to add another 175 km of traffic calmed
streets.
Most of the proposed investments for bicycling discussed above will go
towards cycling infrastructure. The majority of funds (€24 million) will be used for
three crucial bridges and tunnels connecting the main bike network (‘Hoofdnet
Fiets’). Building separate bicycle paths to connect the bike network will cost an
additional € 18 million. Funding for bike infrastructure comes from district, city
and regional budgets (City of Amsterdam, 2007).
Restrictions on cars
Pucher and Buehler At the Frontiers of Cycling 15
The city of Amsterdam has greatly restricted car access to the city center.
Many streets are one way for cars, and others are solely reserved for pedestrians
and cyclists, and are completely off-limits for automobiles. Since the 1970s the city
has reduced the amount of car parking in the city center. Additionally, fees for the
remaining car parking spaces were substantially increased since the 1970s
(Langenberg, 2000; Dutch Bicycling Council, 2006). In 1992, citizens voted to
continue to decrease car parking in the city center. This has proven to be an
effective transportation demand management tool. When parking is sparse and
costly, it discourages car trips to the city. Furthermore, as in most Dutch cities,
many residential areas are traffic calmed at a low speed for cars (30 km/h areas).
Bike Parking and Coordination with public transport
Amsterdam has large bike parking facilities at its train stations. During
peak hours on workdays, up to 10,000 bikes were parked at Amsterdam Central
Station in 2006. Unfortunately, the number of unguarded bike parking facilities has
declined sharply in recent years due to massive reconstruction around the Central
Station. The reconstruction is proposed to last until 2012. The city is trying to
accommodate bike parking needs with a temporary three story bike parking garage.
Demand for parking outnumbers the available 2,500 parking spots, however. City
planners estimate that about 4,000 bikes are parked in this parking garage. This is
accomplished by double parking bikes in parking spots originally designed for
single bikes. Even though this parking garage is overcrowded, it is still not enough
to accommodate all bicycles.
Pucher and Buehler At the Frontiers of Cycling 16
As a result bikes are parked all around the train station. The City of
Amsterdam installed an additional 1,000 bicycle racks around the station and
provided another 1,500 bike parking places on an old ferry –anchored on an
adjacent river—until construction of the train station is completed. After
reconstruction is complete in 2012, there will be 10,000 bike parking spaces in
sheltered facilities at the train station.
Amsterdam has pioneered an innovative integration of automobile and bike
use. This program is called “Park and Bike” and allows motorists to park their cars
at the fringe of the city and to complete their trip to the city center on bike (Dutch
Bicycling Council, 2006). The main reason for implementing this program was the
lack of car parking in the downtown area and a shortage of transit access to all
parts of the city. The bike rental fee is included in the price of the car parking
ticket. In 2006, Amsterdam had 80 of these rental bikes at two locations (Olympic
Stadium and Sloterdijk station). During summers the city reports that 60% of all
rental bikes are in use every day. The program is not working at a profit, thus
municipal governments in the region cover excess costs not met by parking fees.
Bicycling promotion
Similar to Germany, Dutch school children go through bicycle training in
school. This further familiarizes children with bicycling and teaches necessary
traffic rules and behavior. Bicycles are made available to schools by the city
government for free so that children who do not own a bicycle can learn at school
how to cycle safely in Amsterdam. In the Netherlands many children experience
bicycling early in life; they learn to cycle when they are 3-4 years old. Many infants
Pucher and Buehler At the Frontiers of Cycling 17
make their first bike ride on the backseat or in special bike trailers with their
parents. Children of immigrants often do not have these early experiences of
bicycling, as cycling is not part of the culture of their country of origin. Indeed, the
city reports that children of recent immigrant cycle less than the average child in
Amsterdam. Therefore, the city plans to make special efforts to target children of
recent immigrants through bicycling promotion and to make bicycling as appealing
and as irresistible as possible to them.
Groningen2
As the most bicycling oriented city in Europe’s most bicycling oriented
country, Groningen is very special indeed. Similar to Muenster and Odense, the
bicycling policies, programs, and facilities in Groningen have become a model for
other cities to follow.
Groningen has 181,000 inhabitants, including about 46,000 university
students (City of Groningen, 2007). It is the seventh largest city in the Netherlands,
located in the far north of the country. As in other Dutch cities, its flat terrain
facilitates cycling. Over many decades Groningen has consistently implemented
sustainable land use and transport policies. Together with the provision of extensive
cycling infrastructure, the city’s compact land use and car-restrictive measures have
encouraged the continued growth of cycling as a means of daily travel.
Groningen has remained quite compact in spite of its gradually increasing
population. In 2005, 78% of its residents and 90% of its jobs were located within a
2 Information on cycling in Groningen was collected directly from Dutch transport planners and cycling
experts. The main bicycling planner for Groningen, Cor van der Klaauw provided extensive information as
well as corrections and improvements to this case study of Groningen. Information was also collected from
the following published sources: City of Groningen (2007); Dutch Bicycling Council (2006); and van der
Klaauw (2006).
Pucher and Buehler At the Frontiers of Cycling 18
3-km radius of the city center (Dutch Bicycling Council, 2006). That compactness
generates trips are short enough to be made by bike, and that is perhaps the most
important factor in explaining the extraordinarily high bike share of travel.
The compactness of Groningen is not an accident but resulted from strict
land use plans that limited the type of sprawled, low-density development that
would have greatly increased trip distances and required more car use. In fact,
there was considerable planned decentralization in the 1970s to accommodate
increase population and commercial development. Since 1980, however, there has
been very little additional expansion, and the focus over the past 25 years has been
on maintaining Groningen’s compact, bike-friendly spatial pattern (Dutch Bicycling
Council, 2006; van der Klaauw 2006).
Travel trends
Groningen has the highest bike share of local trips of any large Dutch city,
remaining steady at slightly less than 40% for the past two decades. For local trips
within Groningen, the bike share of trips is 59%, also the highest in the
Netherlands. In 2002, the Dutch Cyclists Union designated Groningen as “Cycling
City of the Year.” Thus, Groningen is comparable to Odense, Denmark and
Muenster, Germany. Each city has its country’s highest bike shares of travel, and
each city has been awarded the designation of best cycling city. Although the bike
share of trips in Groningen has remained steady since 1980, the total number of
bike trips has increased along with population and overall travel demand.
As for the Netherlands as a whole, there is no significant difference between
men and women in their levels of cycling. Indeed, national statistics show that
Pucher and Buehler At the Frontiers of Cycling 19
women make more bike trips than men. The highest rates of cycling are among the
age groups 12-19 and then again among those over 45. There is a fall in cycling
levels among those 20-45 years old, possibly because they are in the middle of their
careers and rushed for time (Dutch Bicycling Council, 2006).
Overall policy goals
The main goal of transport policy in Groningen is the preservation of cycling
as a feasible, safe, and convenient means of local travel, thus providing a sustainable
alternative to the private car. To achieve that goal, the city has consistently pursued
self-reinforcing policies of compact land use, car-restrictive measures, and high-
quality cycling infrastructure.
Safety
There has been substantial improvement in cycling safety in Groningen over
the past ten years, with the number of bicyclist injuries falling from 202 in 1997 to
101 in 2005, thus halving total cyclist injuries, although the total number of bike
trips has surely increased (van der Klaauw, 2006).
Almost no one in Groningen wears a safety helmet when cycling—neither
adults nor children. Moreover, there is no public program to encourage cyclists to
wear helmets. There is a widespread belief in the Netherlands that wearing a
helmet is neither necessary nor appropriate. Both at the national and local levels,
Dutch cycling planners have opposed efforts to encourage let alone require helmet
use. They assert that helmets discourage cycling by making it less convenient and
less comfortable. Whatever safety benefits helmets might offer, they are far offset
by the reduced cycling they would cause. One bike planner suggested that helmets
Pucher and Buehler At the Frontiers of Cycling 20
might make cyclists seem less vulnerable in the eyes of motorists, who might then
drive with less care and consideration toward cyclists. Cyclists themselves might
also cycle more dangerously and take more risks if they are wearing a helmet.
Groningen’s strategy for improving cycling safety relies mainly on the
provision of extensive bike lanes and bike paths, priority traffic signals for cyclists,
traffic calming of residential neighborhoods, and sharp restrictions on car traffic in
the city center. In this respect, Groningen has undertaken the same measures as
Muenster and Odense.
There is also a concerted program in Groningen to reduce bike theft, which
has been a major problem. Groningen’s first guarded bike parking facility was
opened in 1982. Thanks to its success, the number of such guarded bike parking
facilities increased to 20 by 1995 and to 30 by 2006. Guarded bike parking facilities
for the general public charge a daily fee of €0.90 or an annual subscription fee of
€25 for regular users. In addition, there were 15 schools in Groningen in 2006 with
guarded bike parking for a fee of €22.50 per year. The parking fees charged for
guarded bike parking fully cover the costs of hiring the necessary staff for
surveillance (Dutch Bicycling Council, 2006; van der Klaauw, 2006).
Provision of cycling facilities
Perhaps the most impressive aspect of Groningen’s cycling policy is the vast
expansion of cycling facilities. The city has more than doubled the extent of its
separate bike lanes and paths since 1980, reaching 220 km in 2006. Clearly, that has
greatly facilitated cycling, making it safer as well as more convenient. By 2006, all
outlying residential areas had been connected with separate cycling facilities leading
Pucher and Buehler At the Frontiers of Cycling 21
directly to the city center. To enhance its cycling network, Groningen has
constructed many special infrastructure facilities such as cyclist bridges and
underpasses to further separate cyclist traffic flows from motor vehicles.
The City of Groningen invested €23 million in cycling facilities between 1989
and 2000 and another € 9.5 million between 2000 and 2006, or a total of almost €33
million in the past 17 years. For the years 2006 to 2010, it is projected that at least
€11 million will be spent expanding and improving cycling facilities in Groningen.
That would be a total of €44 million over 21 years or about €2 million per year
(Dutch Bicycling Council; van der Klaauw, 2006).
Just as in Muenster, Groningen has installed many short cuts for cyclists to
increase the directness of bike trips, cut trip distances, and thus increase the overall
speed and convenience of bike travel compared to car travel. At the same time, the
city introduced many artificial dead ends, traffic-calmed areas, and car-free zones
that make car travel more circuitous, less convenient, and more time consuming
that bike travel.
Intersection treatments and traffic priority for cyclists
At some key intersections, Groningen has introduced four-way green traffic
lights for cyclists, permitting faster and safer crossing of the intersections for
cyclists, especially when making left turns. Generally, the city has tried to remove
traffic lights to avoid interruptions in bike trips at intersections. For example,
bicycling routes have been planned so that it is now possible to cycle from several
outlying residential areas directly to the city center without having to stop at even
Pucher and Buehler At the Frontiers of Cycling 22
one traffic signal, greatly speeding up bike travel between outlying residential areas
and work, shopping, and the university in the center.
There are separate traffic signals for cyclists, and cyclists usually get advance
green lights. At especially busy intersections, cyclists get two green light phases
during each cycle of the traffic signal. Cyclists are also allowed to make right turns
at intersections when the traffic signal is red, while car drivers cannot. At many
intersections, cyclists proceed to the front of the intersection and wait in an area
ahead of all the cars, which must stop further behind at another stop line. Cyclists
also get an advance green light, which speeds them through the intersection and
provides greater visibility and safety. In addition, cyclists are permitted to make
right or left turns at many intersections where they are prohibited for cars. That
gives cyclists greater flexibility in the routing of their travel.
Cyclists and pedestrians have absolute priority in the city center—in the use
of public spaces and roadways, direction and routes of travel, and traffic signals.
On many one-way streets cyclists are permitted to travel in both directions, while
motorists can only drive in one direction.
Restrictions on cars
Much of Groningen’s city center is off limits to cars. It is not possible for
cars to pass through the city center from one end to the other. That forces such
traffic to take circumferential routes and mitigates the problems of congestion,
noise, air pollution, and traffic danger in the city center. Through motor vehicle
traffic is diverted to ring roads outside the city center (Dutch Bicycling Council,
2006; van der Klaauw, 2006).
Pucher and Buehler At the Frontiers of Cycling 23
Just as in Muenster, almost all residential neighborhoods in Groningen are
traffic calmed so that speed limits are reduced to 30km/hr or less. In addition, there
are many woonerfs (home zones) with speeds limited to 7km per hour and cars
forced to share roads with pedestrians, cyclists, and playing children.
The reduction of car parking spaces within the city center has also
discouraged car use there. New car parks have been built near the edge of the city
center, with motorists encouraged to park their cars there and then to walk, bike, or
take a bus to the center. Motorists are directed either to the nearest car park just
outside the center or to more outlying car parks that permit free parking of cars
and provide direct bus service via the CityBus shuttles between the park and ride
lots and the city center.
Coordination with public transport
The main form of multi-modal coordination is the provision of very extensive
bike parking at train stations and some key bus stops. Virtually all bus and train
services converge radially on the city center, either at the main train station or the
main city square (Grote Markt). As noted in the next section, there is extensive bike
parking of various sorts at those locations.
Suburban rail services permit bikes on their trains, and both the Amsterdam
and Rotterdam metros permit bikes on board the trains. There are no bike racks on
buses, but some of the longer-distance regional buses permit bikes to be taken on-
board on certain off-peak days, such as the weekends and holidays. By comparison,
none of the regular city buses permit bikes on board and they do not have bike
racks.
Pucher and Buehler At the Frontiers of Cycling 24
Bike Parking
There are 36 bike parking facilities in the center of Groningen, including 7
which are guarded to prevent bike theft. At the central train station, there are three
different bike parking facilities: a guarded parking facility with 1,700 bike parking
places, an unguarded parking lot with space for 4,150 bikes, and a bicycle parking
deck with 900 bike parking spaces. Groningen’s most innovative parking policy is
the provision of extensive guarded parking to reduce bike theft, as discussed earlier
(Dutch Bicycling Council, 2006; van der Klaauw, 2006).
Bicycling promotion
There are no special programs in Groningen to promote cycling, in sharp
contrast to Muenster and especially Odenese, with its incredible range of cycling
promotion campaigns. Cycling is so common and natural in the Netherlands—
especially in Groningen, with the highest rate of cycling of any Dutch city—that
there does not seem to be a need to implement special promotional programs.
Nevertheless, there are some movements in this direction, partly to counter the
increasing problem of obesity among the Dutch. The main way that Groningen
promotes cycling is not through any special marketing gimmicks but rather by
providing superb cycling facilities and restrictions on car travel.
Case Studies of Cycling in Denmark
In the Western World, Denmark is second only to the Netherlands in its
overall levels of cycling. Somewhat similar to the Netherlands, cycling in Denmark
benefits from a mostly flat topography and moderate climate. But it also benefits
from a wide range of transport and land use policies that have increasingly
Pucher and Buehler At the Frontiers of Cycling 25
supported cycling and restricted car use over the past few decades. We first
examine Copenhagen, the capital and largest city of Denmark. Somewhat similar to
Amsterdam, cycling has become a key aspect of Copenhagen’s image throughout the
world. And that enables it to benefit from a considerable amount of cycling tourism
on top of all the other benefits of cycling. The second Danish case study is Odense,
which is hardly known outside of Europe. It has an even higher bike of trips than
Copenhagen and has been designated the official National Bicycling City of
Denmark. Odense has truly been at the forefront of cycling policies and programs,
having implemented perhaps the most innovative pro-bike measures of any city in
the world.
Copenhagen3
With about half a million inhabitants in the city and 1.7 million inhabitants
in its metropolitan area, Copenhagen is Denmark’s largest city as well as its capital
(City of Copenhagen, 2007a). Of Europe’s major cities, only Amsterdam is more
bicycling oriented than Copenhagen. With its long history of cycling and high share
of trips by bike, the city actively markets itself as the “city of cyclists.” Since spring
2007, the city has set itself the goal to become “the best city in the world for cycling”
(City of Copenhagen, 2007b).
The extensive bicycling network and the central role of cycling facilities in all
traffic planning highlight the importance of bicycling in the city’s transport policies.
3 Information on cycling in Copenhagen was collected directly from Danish transportation planners and
cycling experts. The main bicycling planner for Copenhagen, Niels Jensen, provided extensive
information, corrections, and improvements to this case study of cycling in Copenhagen. Information was
also collected from the following published sources: Cervero (2001); City of Copenhagen (2002; 2004;
2006; 2007a; 2007b); Fonden Bycycklen (2007); and Dutch Bicycling Council (2006).
Pucher and Buehler At the Frontiers of Cycling 26
Indeed, a third of Copenhagen’s road transport budget is earmarked for cycling
facilities and programs.
Land use and development policies have also facilitated cycling. As noted by
Cervero (2001), Copenhagen’s suburban expansion has been concentrated along
radial train corridors that focus on the city center. The relatively high residential
densities and mixed land uses ensure a high percentage of trips that are short
enough to cover by bike.
In contrast to most other case study cities, there are no bicycle streets in
Copenhagen, and traffic calming is not very extensive. Currently, some residential
areas have 30km/h speed limits and a very limited number of streets have car speed
limits of 15km/h. However, the city has plans to reduce the general speed limit for
cars from 50km/h to 40km/h in large parts of the city.
Travel trends
Cycling has almost continuously increased in and around Copenhagen in
recent decades. Cordon counts indicate that the number of bike trips grew by about
70% from 1970 to 2006, with especially rapid growth in the areas beyond the city
center. A 2005 travel survey found that 20% of all trips in Copenhagen were by
bike. An even higher 36% of work trips were by bike (City of Copenhagen, 2006).
Cycling rates are high for all groups: men and women, all age groups, all
professions, and all income levels. Similar to Amsterdam, cycling is viewed as a
perfectly normal way to get around the city, and cyclists are a permanent part of the
scene on virtually every street. Interestingly, bike use in recent years has risen most
among older age groups. For example, the percentage of Copenhagen residents over
Pucher and Buehler At the Frontiers of Cycling 27
age 40 who cycle regularly increased from 25% in 1998 to 38% in 2005 (City of
Copenhagen, 2006).
Overall policy goals
The goals of its cycling policy were first clearly stated in Copenhagen’s 2002-
2012 Cycling Policy Plan and then slightly revised in 2007 (City of Copenhagen,
2007b). The city aims to increase the bike share of work trips to 50% by 2012 (for
jobs located within the city), and to reduce the number of cyclist injuries by 50%.
Moreover, the city has a specific goal of raising the percentage of cyclists who feel
safe from the current 57% to 80%. The Policy Plan also sets the goals of increasing
cycling speeds by improving the cycle pathway system and by giving cyclists more
priority at intersections. As of spring 2007, the city plans to double funding for
bicycling (City of Copenhagen, 2007b).
Safety
Although cycling levels in Copenhagen are high, they would be much higher
if safety were improved—as well as the perceived safety of cycling. Indeed, a recent
survey revealed that the majority of those who do not cycle feel that cycling is
unsafe. Even among regular cyclists, only 53% feel safe, according to the 2006
Bicycle Account survey (City of Copenhagen, 2006). That is in spite of impressive
improvements in actual cycling safety. From 1995 to 2006, the number of cyclist
fatalities and serious injuries fell by 60%, although the total number of kilometers
cycled rose by 44% over the same period (City of Copenhagen, 2006).
In the past, Copenhagen’s main approach to increasing safety was the
extension and improvement of the system of bikeways along roads and in parks.
Pucher and Buehler At the Frontiers of Cycling 28
Although those efforts continue, the city’s focus now is on improving safety at
intersections, since that is where most serious crashes occur. Increasingly, the city is
installing advance stop lines for cyclists, priority traffic signals, and bright blue
marking of bike lanes crossing roads.
Similar to Dutch cities, cyclists in Copenhagen rarely wear helmets. In sharp
contrast to Odense, there does not appear to be any public campaign to promote
helmet use. As in the Netherlands, bike planners in Copenhagen reject laws
requiring helmet use since they would probably discourage cycling by making it less
convenient and less fashionable.
Provision of cycling facilities
Even as far back as 1934, Copenhagen had 130 km of bike paths, but they
have been extended considerably since then (Dutch Bicycling Council, 2006). In
2004, there were 345 km of separate bike paths and 14 km of bike lanes, with plans
to invest €16 million to build an additional 50 km of bike paths by 2015 (City of
Copenhagen, 2004 and 2007b). In addition, the city has begun construction of a
series of 21 new bike routes—designated as green bicycle routes. They will have a
total length of over 110 km and cost €70 million. By routing them through parks,
along waterfronts, and in other green spaces, the planners are minimizing roadway
crossings, thus maximizing safety, comfort, and speed (City of Copenhagen, 2007b).
Copenhagen bike planners have a strong preference for separate paths over
on-street lanes on major roads. Although some bike lanes are being built, they are
viewed as cheap, temporary measures—less safe than separate paths. Most lanes
will eventually be replaced by fully separated paths. Generally, bike paths in the
Pucher and Buehler At the Frontiers of Cycling 29
city are on both sides of the street, situated between the roadway and the sidewalk.
The bike path is separated from motor vehicles by a curb and elevated by 7-12 cm
above the level of the street. Most bike paths are 2.2 meters wide, but on especially
busy commuter routes, they are widened to 3 meters. At intersections and other
road crossings, bike paths turn into bike lanes and are often painted a bright, highly
visible blue to alert motorists to the presence of cyclists crossing the road.
While the bicycling facilities in Copenhagen are extensive, about a fifth of
current cyclists report in the bi-annual survey that they are dissatisfied with them
overall (City of Copenhagen, 2004 and 2006). Over half of current cyclists complain
about poor maintenance. As in many cities, motor vehicles sometimes stop or park
illegally on cycle tracks, endangering cyclists and slowing them down. Another
problem is the congestion of several key bike paths during rush hours, with over
2,300 cyclists per hour. Congestion is limited to only 3 to 4km of the bike networks,
but bike planners and cyclists still consider it a problem.
In response to these problems, the city is planning to expand the network of
bike paths, widen paths to 3 meters on the most congested routes, ticket motor
vehicles obstructing paths, and improve maintenance. Furthermore, similar to
Odense, the city synchronizes its traffic lights on certain roads to give cyclist
consecutive green lights (a so-called green wave). First results show that this
measure speeds up bike trips by an average of 10%. Overall, Copenhagen planners
report considerable progress with these recently implemented measures.
Intersection treatments and traffic priority for cyclists
Pucher and Buehler At the Frontiers of Cycling 30
As already noted, the transport planners in Copenhagen are now making
intersection improvements the main focus of their efforts to make cycling faster,
more convenient, and safer. Many key intersections already provide advance stop
lines, traffic signal priority, and special blue lane markings for cyclists. In the
coming years, the city plans to redesign more intersections in this way to be more
bicycling friendly.
Coordination with public transport
Although city planners recognize the importance of integrating cycling with
public transport, 42% of Copenhagen’s cyclists rated the situation in 2006 as
unsatisfactory (City of Copenhagen, 2006). Consequently, improvements in bike
and ride facilities are a major goal of city cycling policies.
Bikes are now allowed on all suburban trains as well as the metro. All
suburban trains and most regional trains have special compartments for bike
parking. Bike parking around train stations, however, is not nearly sufficient to
meet demands. Many of the existing facilities are crowded, outdated, inconvenient,
unguarded, and primitive in comparison to the state-of-the-art facilities in Muenster
and Groningen. Likewise, Amsterdam has vastly superior bike parking facilities at
its rail stations. Fortunately, the city plans to improve bike parking at train stations
in the coming years, but it has a long way to go.
Bike parking
Similar to the unsatisfactory state of bike-public transport coordination, bike
parking in general is both insufficient and of poor quality in Copenhagen (City of
Pucher and Buehler At the Frontiers of Cycling 31
Copenhagen, 2006). In the city’s bi-annual survey, cyclists regularly rate the lack of
good bike parking as the worst aspect of cycling conditions (rating only 3 on a scale
of 1 to 10).
The total number of bike parking places is over 20,000, but that is not nearly
sufficient. Thus, the city’s goal is to vastly improve both the quantity and quality of
bike parking facilities in the coming years. Over 400 new bike parking places were
built for the city center from 2000 to 2002.
Copenhagen could learn a lot from Odense, which has been pioneering a
range of advances in bike parking, both overall and especially at train stations.
Bicycling promotion
There are two innovative policies that Copenhagen has implemented to
promote cycling: the free bike rental program and the annual survey of bicyclists.
The City Bikes program places over 2,000 free city bikes at over 110 locations in the
city center (Fonden Bycycklen, 2007). Only a small deposit is required to retrieve
the bike from its parking location, and it can be left any many different locations,
depending on the route taken. The City Bikes program certainly is a good idea in
principle, making bikes easily available on short-term basis. Unfortunately, the
program has been hampered by the inevitable problems of vandalism and theft, as
well as insufficient maintenance of the bikes. Technological improvements to the
City Bikes in 1996 mitigated these problems somewhat, but one often finds
abandoned, broken, vandalized City Bikes throughout the city. Overall, however,
the City Bike program appears to be a success.
Pucher and Buehler At the Frontiers of Cycling 32
Another innovative program in Copenhagen is the Bicycle Account, a bi-
annual survey of cyclists (City of Copenhagen, 2004 and 2006). Every two years
cyclists themselves evaluate the actual performance of the bicycling system in the
city, and provide suggestions for its improvement. They are asked, for example,
about their degree of satisfaction with the extent and width of bike paths, road and
path maintenance, bike parking, coordination with public transport, and safety.
Because it is a bi-annual survey, it permits cycling planners to track progress over
time.
In addition to monitoring cyclist satisfaction with the current system, the
Bicycle Account also provides information on cycling levels, trip purpose, and
cyclist characteristics, thus supplementing the information from cordon counts of
cyclists and other travel surveys.
Odense4
Odense was designated as Denmark’s official National Bicycling City in 1999.
It has the highest bike mode share of any Danish city, with cycling accounting for
about a quarter of all trips. That is not much higher than the overall Danish
average of 18%, but it is impressive nevertheless.
Odense is the third largest city in Denmark, with 185,000 inhabitants. That
includes about 40,000 university students, who are among the most frequent cyclists.
Odense is located at the center of the island Fyn about 140 km southwest of
Copenhagen. Its flat topography and moderate climate facilitate cycling.
4 Information on cycling in Odense was collected directly from its former bicycling planner, Troels
Andersen, and from the following published sources: City of Odense (2007); Andersen, T. (2005); and
Dutch Bicycling Council (2006).
Pucher and Buehler At the Frontiers of Cycling 33
Travel trends
From 1984 to 2002, the total number of bike trips in Odense grew
substantially—by about 80%, based on regular, manual cordon counts on 21 key
cycling routes (Dutch Bicycling Council, 2006). The increasing number of bike trips
is due mainly to considerable growth in overall travel demand, of which cycling has
captured a slightly higher percentage share. Although travel surveys are only
available for the shorter time period from 1994 to 2002, they indicate that the bike
share of trips rose only slightly—from 22.5% to 24.6%, but with fluctuations from
year to year. Thanks to the extraordinary package of federally supported pro-bike
programs implemented between 1999 and 2002, there was an impressive 20%
increase in total bike trips over that short 3-year period.
Odense developed a unique trip counting device in 2002 that supplanted
manual counts. Cycling volumes are now automatically measured as cyclists pass
each of 25 permanent counting stations. That permits frequent monitoring of
cycling travel demand, greatly facilitating bike planning (Andersen, 2005).
Overall policy goals
The main objective of transport policy in Odense has been to increase cycling
levels while reducing cycling injuries. As noted above, the city has achieved those
dual objectives over the past 20 years. The recent focus of the city’s policies has
been on modernizing, improving, and better maintaining its existing cycling
facilities, which are already quite extensive (Dutch Bicycling Council, 2006;
Andersen, 2005).
Pucher and Buehler At the Frontiers of Cycling 34
The city has also carried out a massive, multi-faceted marketing campaign
aimed at all groups. Thus, another aspect of Odense’s cycling policy is to get
everyone cycling more, including men and women, all age groups, and all
professions. The emphasis has been on everyday cycling for practical purposes, but
there are also programs to encourage recreational cycling (Andersen, 2005).
Safety
While Odense has undertaken many measures to improve cycling safety,
bicycling injuries remain a top concern. From 1999 to 2004, total cyclist injuries fell
from 80 to 57, indicating considerable success. Unfortunately, the number of
serious injuries fell only slightly (from 36 to 33), and the number of fatalities
actually rose (from 1 to 3). Since the number of bike trips increased over the same
period by about 20% over the same period, however, the decrease in both total and
serious cyclist injuries would translate into a more significant fall in the overall
cycling injury rate per trip (Dutch Bicycling Council, 2006; Andersen, 2005). The
correlation between rising cycling levels and falling injury rates in Odense is
consistent with the theory of “safety in numbers,” which suggests that more cycling
leads to greater cycling safety, as documented for a range of countries and cities by
Jacobsen (2003). Of course, greater cycling safety also encourages more cycling, so
the causation is surely in both directions.
As one of several approaches to improving cycling safety, Odense has been
strongly promoting bike helmets. During an experimental period, the city provided
50% discounts on helmet purchases and widely advertised the safety advantages of
helmet use in various media campaigns. These efforts were quite successful. From
Pucher and Buehler At the Frontiers of Cycling 35
1999 to 2005, the rate of helmet use rose from 1.5% to 10.4% for adults and from
50% to 89% for children. The rate of helmet use among adults is still very low but
higher than in most German and Dutch cities (Dutch Bicycling Council, 2006;
Andersen, 2005).
As in many German and Dutch cities, children in Odense receive training in
safe cycling as part of their school curriculum. That is crucial, since 43% of
children reach school by bike. Recently, Odense introduced the world’s first
interactive cycling trainer for children to help them improve their cycling skills in
traffic (www.b-game.dk/demo.php). It is in the form of an internet video game, but
with actual scenes of cycling throughout Odense. The user plays the role of a cyclist
who must respond to a wide range of traffic situations.
The city also has encouraged more use of lights on bikes at night by offering
cyclists free lights. They operate without batteries from electricity generated by
magnets attached to the wheels, which automatically produce the needed current
from the act of pedaling the bike. A pilot study including 4,000 cyclists resulted in a
32% fall in cyclist accidents.
Provision of cycling facilities
Already since the mid 1980s, Odense has had over 500km of bike lanes and
paths, so it has long had a very extensive cycling network. The National Cycling
City program from 1999 to 2002 extended the network by only another 400m with
one new bike lane (Dutch Bicycling Council, 2006; Andersen, 2005).
Nevertheless, there were numerous minor infrastructure improvements:
modifications to bike lane and path crossings at 20 intersections, installation of 5
Pucher and Buehler At the Frontiers of Cycling 36
new right hand turn lanes and 5 mini-roundabouts, and bright blue painting of
cyclist crossings at intersections. In addition, many intersections were equipped
with advance bicyclist waiting positions (ahead of motorists), and combined with
advance green traffic signals for cyclists. Finally, signage of all cycling routes was
improved throughout the network.
Not only does Odense provide extensive and high quality cycling facilities,
but it undertakes truly extraordinary measures to ensure proper maintenance. It
employs a group of 4 free-lance trouble-shooting cyclists who regularly cover the
entire network and report any defects or maintenance problems, receiving €3.30 for
every confirmed repair problem that needs to be fixed. Even more impressive is the
use of a special vehicle with laser technology to inspect the fundamental structure
underlying every bike lane and path in order to detect possible surface problems
before they even occur. Finally, bike lanes and paths are promptly cleared of ice
and snow with a special vehicle that sprays a salt solution onto the riding surface.
That facilitates winter cycling (Andersen, 2005).
Restrictions on cars
There are no direct routes for cars to pass through Odense’s city center from
one side to the other. In effect, that restricts traffic to vehicles with destinations in
the city center instead of just passing through. That results in less traffic overall as
well as less noise, air pollution, and traffic danger. There are also a number of car-
free pedestrian streets that have been modified with 3.5m two-way cycle paths
through the middle to permit accommodate cyclists.
Pucher and Buehler At the Frontiers of Cycling 37
As in many Danish, Dutch, and German cities, parking in the city center is
quite limited and expensive, which discourages car use in general and obviously
provides an additional incentive to bike or walk.
Coordination with public transport
Bike parking at the main train station in Odense is probably the most
important form of multi-modal coordination of cycling with public transport. In
addition to 400 regular bike racks just behind Odense’s Central Station, there is
also a state-of-the-art bike parking facility immediately below the station, with 300
bike racks that provide especially high level of security, with video surveillance
cameras, as well as piped-in music and conveniences such as toilets, drinking
fountains, luggage boxes, and a bike shop for repairs and rentals. There are also
800 free parking stands at the second Cycle Centre next to Central Station (Dutch
Bicycling Council, 2006; Andersen, 2005).
Bike Parking
There was already extensive bike parking in Odense prior to 1999, but the
National Cycle City program greatly increased the number and quality of bike
parking facilities. The city added 400 sheltered bike parking stands near the main
shopping area, where there is also a state-of-the-art automatic bike parking facility
for 20 bicycles, in the form of a carrousel.
As already noted, the Central Train Station added 400 bike racks in back of
the station as well as 300 bike parking spaces in a special bike parking garage
beneath the station, featuring video camera surveillance and attendants for greater
Pucher and Buehler At the Frontiers of Cycling 38
security, as well as special lighting, music, luggage boxes, and bike repairs and
rentals (Dutch Bicycling Council, 2006; Andersen, 2005).
Bicycling promotion in Odense
However innovative the infrastructure improvements have been in Odense in
recent years, the wide range of cycling marketing programs have certainly attracted
the most attention. Of the six case study cities in this article, Odense has
unquestionably been the most imaginative and enthusiastic in promoting cycling
among all age groups. The most notable efforts include (Dutch Bicycling Council,
2006; Andersen, 2005):
The “Cycling Duckie” program for very young children, which offers gifts,
candy, balloons, and entertainment
A range of cycling competitions for somewhat older schoolchildren
Improved lighting and security of bike parking facilities, especially
important for women concerned about their personal safety
The “Get Rid of the Sack” program targeted at overweight middle-aged men
with pot bellies, with cycling viewed a good form of exercise to lose weight
Extensive bike touring programs for seniors
A fleet of 67 bicycles for 29 companies who let their employees use these
bikes during the day for short business trips
Ten special bike tire air pumping stations all over the city
Free test bike trailers to haul kids behind bikes
Subsidized bike lights and bike helmets to encourage safety
Distribution of free candy and fruit to cyclists
Innovative, interesting-looking cycle trip counters that regularly measure
cycling volumes and publicize rising levels of cycling
Pucher and Buehler At the Frontiers of Cycling 39
Digital display signs along bike routes that measure the speeds of passing
cyclists
Bicycling website with extensive information for cyclists on bicycling routes,
activities, special programs, health benefits of cycling, bike and bikes and
bike accessorires, etc.: http://www.cykelby.dk/eng/index.asp
Over 800 articles on bicycling in local newspapers and magazines; frequent
advertising on radio and TV; and free lectures on cycling
Annual Bike Day in June, featuring bike exhibits, lotteries, cycling
competitions, etc.
Cycling Ambassador program: 86 cycling ambassadors serve as role models
of safe cycling and help with cycling promotion in neighborhoods throughout
the city, distributing newsletters and information about cycling events.
As interesting and innovative as these cycling promotion efforts have been,
cyclists themselves appear to be more impressed by actual improvements in cycling
conditions. As part of the National Cycling City program, cyclists were surveyed in
2002 to determine their preferred strategies for improving cycling. Somewhat
surprisingly, most cyclists did not even mention the many highly creative marketing
programs in Odense.
Instead, the survey respondents praised infrastructure improvements and traffic
priority. Above all, cyclists strongly endorsed priority traffic signals for cyclists at
intersections and synchronized green wave lights adjusted to cyclist speeds;
improved and better maintained surfaces of the existing cycle paths and lanes; and
expanded and improved bike parking facilities. Thus, while marketing is a key part
of an overall cycling policy, it seems clear that improvements in actual cycling
conditions are far more important.
Summary: Cycling in Odense
Pucher and Buehler At the Frontiers of Cycling 40
Although Odense was designated the official National Cycling City of
Denmark from 1999 to 2002, it does not stand out as much from other Danish cities
as does Muenster from other German cities. Danish cycling levels are almost twice
as high as in Germany overall (18% vs. 10%), and Muenster’s bike share of trips is
higher than Odense’s (35% vs. 25%).
Nevertheless, there can be no question that cycling is an important part of
Odense’s character and gives it a special ambience that makes Odense a special
place. Similar to Muenster, Odense has been vigorously and enthusiastically
building on that reputation by implementing the most innovative and diverse
cycling promotion programs of any city examined for this article.
Case Studies of Cycling in Germany
Germany is especially interesting for this examination of cycling policies
precisely because the country does not have a long tradition of cycling, certainly
nothing even approaching the bicycling culture of the Netherlands. Moreover,
Germany has a much higher level of car ownership and use than the Netherlands
and Denmark, indeed one of the highest rates of car ownership in the world.
Germany is home to some of the world’s most important car manufacturers
(Volkswagen, Daimler-Benz, Audi, Porsche, BMW), which together represent a very
strong lobby for highways and cars. And for individual Germans, there is a love
affair with the car that is at least as passionate as that in the USA. Thus, it is
surprising indeed that German cities have undertaken so many policies to promote
cycling.
Pucher and Buehler At the Frontiers of Cycling 41
Of the two German case study cities, Muenster seems almost identical in
many ways to its Dutch neighbors just an hour or two to the west. And its bike
share of trips is roughly the same as well. By comparison, Berlin is probably more
typical of German cities. Although it has vastly expanded its cycling facilities in
recent years and achieved a 10% bike share of trips, Berlin does not come close to
the dominance of cycling in Amsterdam and Copenhagen.
Berlin5
Berlin is the largest of our 6 case study cities and is situated in eastern
Germany, about 70 miles from the Polish border. It has about 3.4 million
inhabitants and is completely surrounded by the rural State of Brandenburg. The
larger Berlin Region contains about 4.5 million inhabitants, including the City of
Berlin and adjacent counties in the State of Brandenburg (City of Berlin, 2003).
From 1961 to 1989 Berlin was divided into two distinct parts, with different
political systems of government that left their imprint on Berlin’s transport systems.
The western part was controlled by the allied forces (the USA, UK, and France).
The eastern part was the capital of the German Democratic Republic (GDR).
Differences in the former transport systems can still be seen today between East and
West Berlin. The eastern part of the city lacks bike paths and lanes. Cycling is also
impaired in the east by many bumpy cobblestone streets and roads bisected by tram
tracks (City of Berlin, 2003 and 2007a).
5 Information on cycling in Berlin was collected directly from German transportation planners and cycling
experts. The main bicycling planner for Berlin, Roland Jannermann, provided extensive information as well
as corrections and improvements to this case study of Berlin. Information was also collected from the
following published sources: City of Berlin (2003; 2004; 2005; 2007a; 2007b); and German Railways
(2007).
Pucher and Buehler At the Frontiers of Cycling 42
In contrast to the other five case study cities presented in this paper, Berlin is
not a typical bicycling city. The city is very spread out. Moreover, the winters are
long and cold. Finally, after World War II West Berlin accommodated the
automobile by demolishing its tramway system and building limited access
highways in the city center. East Berlin accommodated the automobile by building
large arterial boulevards and had the highest rates of car ownership and use in all of
East Germany. Today road supply in Berlin is so abundant that traffic congestion is
rarely a problem. Indeed, the average speed of a car trip in the city is higher than
the average speed of a transit trip.
Upon reunification of the city in 1990, the bike mode share was 6% in West
Berlin and only 3% in the Eastern part. Especially since 2000, the city has tried to
promote bicycling for a wide range of trip purposes. Today’s share of all trips made
by bike is 10%, which can be considered high given the cold winters, the automobile
oriented transport policies implemented in the past, and the population size of the
city (City of Berlin, 2003 and 2007a).
The main driving forces for promoting bicycling in Berlin were
environmental pollution and air quality considerations, but also the city’s worsening
financial crises. Promoting bicycling and expanding cycling infrastructure is
relatively cheap compared to building roads or rail transport infrastructure.
Even though Berlin is spread out, it is flat and has a bike friendly spatial
development structure. City life is organized around many vibrant neighborhoods
(Kieze) with a good mix of land uses, which keeps trip distances short. A recent
travel survey found that 45% of all trips in Berlin are shorter than 3 kilometers, a
Pucher and Buehler At the Frontiers of Cycling 43
distance easily covered by bike. Current efforts are geared toward increasing biking
for everyday utilitarian purposes, such as shopping (City of Berlin, 2003 and 2007a).
Travel trends
Similar to most other Western European cities, bike use in Berlin dropped
after WWII. From 1951 to 1972 kilometers cycled per inhabitant declined by nearly
90%. During that period, the city was rebuilt from war damages in a way to
accommodate the car through highways and wide boulevards. Moreover, disposable
income and automobile ownership skyrocketed. Since 1972 kilometers of bike use
have increased, but in 2004 cycling levels were still less than half of the 1951 level
(City of Berlin, 2003 and 2007a).
Between 1992 and 1998 the share of all trips made by bicycle increased from
7% to 10%. Unfortunately, the travel survey of 1998 was the last comprehensive
city wide survey. A new survey is planned but has been deemed too expensive for
the city to afford. In personal interviews transportation planners reported that
bicycle counts at certain roads and intersections confirm a 10% or even slightly
higher bike share since 1998. The only recent data that exist for the whole city is the
German National Travel Survey (MiD) 2002. That survey reports a bike share of
7% of all trips in Berlin, with a margin of error of 3%. Berlin’s bike planners point
out that the sample for this survey was very small, and that a 10% bike mode share
is still within the margin of error (City of Berlin, 2003 and 2007a).
Overall policy goals
The city of Berlin wants to increase the mode share of bicycling to 15% of all
trips by 2015. The city’s bicycling strategy states that bicycling should become as
Pucher and Buehler At the Frontiers of Cycling 44
convenient and safe as possible. One of the means to realize this goal is to make
every city street bike friendly, either by building bike paths and lanes or by traffic
calming residential areas (City of Berlin, 2003 and 2007b).
Increased funding for bicycling facilities will help accomplish this goal. Until
2000, the city government only funded cycling infrastructure in connection with new
road construction projects. This made it nearly impossible to upgrade existing roads
to accommodate the needs of bicycle traffic. In 2000, the city established a dedicated
annual funding source for bicycling infrastructure by introducing a special
bicycling budget of €1.5 million per year. In 2006 the bike budget increased to €2.5
million per year and is expected to increase even further to €3 million in 2008.
Additionally, the federal government now makes funds available for cycling
infrastructure, such as separate bike paths alongside federal highways. In the years
2008 and 2009, an additional program for upgrading substandard cycling paths will
commence at a budget of €1 million per year. Berlin’s bike planners estimate that
roughly 5-8 million Euros per year will be spent on cycling in 2008 and 2009.
According to the “Cycling Strategy” of 2004 the city intends to increase the
budget for bicycling to more than €15 million annually by 2015. Due to the current
financial crisis of the city, these plans are subject to annual availability of city
government funds, however. The funds would be used to close gaps in the existing
bike network, to integrate cycling with public transport, increase bike parking,
improve signage for cyclists, improve and expand training for children, upgrade
surfaces of roads and bike paths, and to promote bike tourism in Berlin and its
hinterlands. With financial assistance from the federal government, the city
Pucher and Buehler At the Frontiers of Cycling 45
administration intends to invest €80 million in cycling projects between 2004 and
2010. (City of Berlin, 2003 and 2007a).
Safety
Between 1998 and 2004 the number of cyclists killed in traffic declined by
30%. Severe cyclist injuries dropped by 22% and the number of minor cyclist
injuries fell by about 8%. Police reports show that cyclists are only involved in 5%
of all traffic accidents in the city, less than the bike mode share of 10% would lead
to expect (City of Berlin, 2003, 2004, and 2007a).
In Germany, children less than 8 years old have to ride their bike on the
sidewalk or completely separate bike paths. Children of this age are not considered
to be alert enough to cycle on the road, not even in separate bike lanes. In general,
cyclists older than 8 years of age can choose to ride on the road or on bike paths and
lanes. At certain especially dangerous intersections and streets, all cyclists are
required to use the bike path or lane. These sections are marked by a blue round
traffic sign for cyclists. Cyclists have to conform to these signs and all other traffic
signals throughout the city. In fact, Berlin police are planning to enforce current
traffic regulations for cyclists and drivers more strictly (City of Berlin, 2003, 2004
and 2007a). Overall, the city wants to promote responsible driving and bike riding
and to improve the co-existence of cyclists and automobile traffic. The city will
supplement this awareness and enforcement campaign by building improved
facilities for cyclists. These improvements will include more advanced green lights
for cyclists at traffic lights, advanced stop lines for cyclists at intersections, better
Pucher and Buehler At the Frontiers of Cycling 46
marking of bike paths and lanes at intersections, and enhanced signage and
connectivity of the bike network.
As in most German cities, school children have to take part in cycling
training and pass a test with real police between 3rd and 4th grade. During this
training police officers first supervise cycling lessons for children on closed training
grounds with miniature roads and traffic signals. Once the children have mastered
the traffic signs on the training course the police take them for a ride on real city
streets and bike lanes and paths. Unfortunately, this second step is sometimes
omitted due to lack of staff. During the courses, children learn about bicyclists’
responsibilities on the road and some essentials about bike safety, such as wearing a
helmet or cycling with lights when it is dark.
Provision of cycling facilities
In 2004, Berlin had 620km separate bike paths, 60km of on-road bike lanes,
70km of shared bus lanes, 100km of joint pedestrian/cyclist sidewalks, 50km of bike
lanes on sidewalks, and 190km of off-road bikeways through parks and forests. In
addition, there were 3,800km of traffic calmed neighborhoods (City of Berlin, 2003
and 2007a). These mostly residential areas do not have any special bike facilities.
Instead, bikes and cars share these roads, which have a maximum speed of 30km/h
or even less on special “Spielstrassen” (home zones), where speed limits can be as
low as 7 km/h. Overall 72% of all city streets are traffic calmed. Unfortunately,
some of these traffic calmed areas, especially in the eastern part of the city, have
cobble stone road surfaces and still have to be made more bike friendly.
Pucher and Buehler At the Frontiers of Cycling 47
Separate facilities for bikes are only deemed necessary at roads with a speed limit of
50km/h or more and with automobile traffic volume of at least 10,000 cars per day.
Overall, more than half of all heavily trafficked roads in Berlin have bike facilities
(750km out of 1450km). Together with the off-road paths and bike friendly traffic
calmed areas the city is easily and safely accessible by bicycle. For the future the city
is planning on building and sign posting 12 radial bicycling routes that connect the
city’s neighborhoods to its center. Additionally, 8 tangential bike routes are
planned to link the 12 radial bike routes and to connect the neighborhoods to each
other (City of Berlin, 2007b).
Restrictions on cars
In contrast to many other German cities Berlin does not have a car-free
downtown area. Some smaller car-free areas exist in certain neighborhoods (e.g.
downtown Spandau or the Nikolaiviertel), but they are by far less extensive than in
other German cities, such as Muenster.
While the city does not have extensive car-free zones, it has implemented
restricted parking areas in many parts of the city through so-called parking
management systems (Parkraumbewirtschaftung). In these areas long term parking
is provided for residents only. In contrast, shoppers or visitors have to pay and can
only park for a limited amount of time. Overall, however, Berlin’s effort to limit car
use are very modest compared to our other case study cities.
The latest city wide travel survey found that the mode share of car use was
only 38% in 1998. This is well below other German cities. Car ownership rates are
also low in Berlin. After an initial increase in car ownership rates after
Pucher and Buehler At the Frontiers of Cycling 48
reunification, the level of car ownership has been roughly stable since 1994 at only
about 330 cars per capita (compared to about 560 for Germany as a whole).
Clearly, low levels of car ownership and less access to cars increase the potential for
cycling, walking and transit use (City of Berlin, 2003).
Bike Parking and Coordination with public transport
In 2004, there were 22,600 bike & ride parking spots at regional and
commuter rail (S-Bahn) as well as at subway stations (U-Bahn). The S-Bahn and
regional transit providers plan to increase bike parking at transit stops. From 2004
to 2005 the S-Bahn already built 2,000 additional bike parking spots. The regional
transit provider BVG plans to increase bike parking by 7,000 places by the year
2010 (City of Berlin, 2007a and 2007b). Unlike Muenster, Groningen or
Amsterdam, however, Berlin does not have special bike parking garages at its large
train stations. Bike parking, of course exists at train stations, but is mainly limited
to bike racks, some of which are sheltered from the rain. Bicycles are allowed 24
hours a day on trams (streetcars) as well as on regional and commuter trains in
Berlin. There is a modest additional charge for season ticket holders who want to
transport their bike frequently on public transport (€ 8 per month). All other
passengers pay € 1.50 per trip and per bike within Berlin and up to € 2.70 in the
suburbs per trip and bike. Many train stations are equipped with elevators and
ramps, which facilitate taking a bike from the street level to the platform and onto
the trains (City of Berlin, 2007a).
Since 2002, German Railways (DB) has offered its “Call-A-Bike” program in
Berlin. In 2006, there were 3,000 rental bikes at train stations and distributed all
Pucher and Buehler At the Frontiers of Cycling 49
throughout the city. These bikes are clearly marked as DB bikes and have a phone
number displayed on them. Everyone who finds a parked bike can call the number,
give their credit card information and obtain a pass-code for the bike lock. Once
the bike lock is opened DB charges € 0.08 per minute, up to a maximum of € 15 for
24 hours. Owners of railway or S-Bahn season tickets pay only € 0.06 per minute.
The bikes can then be used for as long as necessary and can be left at any
intersection in the city. German Railways ceases charging as soon as the lock of the
bike is closed. In 2005, there were an average of 535 bike rentals a day, with an
average use of 50 minutes per rental. Since 2002, the annual number of users of the
service has increased fivefold, from 5,000 to over 23,000 in 2006 (German Railways,
2007).
Since 2006, Berlin has joined other European cities and participates in the
EU funded program Sustainable Planning and Innovations for Bicycles (SPI-Cycles)
(City of Berlin, 2007a and 2007b). The goal of the program is to improve bicycling
for everyday use. For example it will enhance bike parking for shopping.
Additionally, the city building code for Berlin requires new buildings and existing
buildings undergoing major renovations to accommodate bicycling parking (City of
Berlin, 2005).
Bicycling promotion
Once a year in May or June, the Berlin branch of the German bicycling
federation (ADFC) holds a major bike rally (Sternfahrt), supported by the city
government. Major roads in the city are closed for this event, and cyclists converge
from all parts of the city towards a large roundabout (Grosser Stern) at the center
Pucher and Buehler At the Frontiers of Cycling 50
of the city. The same event is repeated on a smaller scale in September. In 2005,
more than 100,000 cyclists participated—in pouring rain. Cyclists started from 81
origins all over the city and converged on 17 different routes towards the central
meeting area (City of Berlin, 2007a).
Furthermore, the city government publishes a comprehensive bike map, as
well as many leaflets and brochures containing information for cyclists, such as
suggested cycle routes, updates on bike infrastructure construction and new policies
to encourage cycling.
In 2003, the city administration of Berlin founded Berlin’s first bicycle
council (FahrRat). This group consists of bicycle experts from different departments
of the city of Berlin, bicycle experts from research centers, representatives from the
bicycle industry, bike advocacy groups, and transit providers. This group meets
regularly to discuss relevant bicycling issues in the city and participated actively in
formulating Berlin’s bicycling strategy. Due to the different backgrounds of the
council members many different perspectives on cycling are represented in the
discussion process.
One particularly innovative tool is Berlin’s online bike planning website. On
this internet site, cyclists can enter the addresses of origin and destination of their
bike trip and the computer calculates the best route to take. Cyclists can select
different options for their trips. The program asks about the desired kind of
bicycling facility for the trip. Choices include: the type of right of way: on-street
routes, separate bike paths and lanes or off-road trails. Furthermore, cyclists can
choose to avoid signalized intersections. The program then maps and describes the
Pucher and Buehler At the Frontiers of Cycling 51
suggested route, complete with location of nearest transit stops, traffic signals, and
steepness. The program also calculates trip times based on different cycling speeds.
The information can be accessed both by computer and with mobile phones so that
cyclists can follow the suggested directions while en route (City of Berlin, 2007a and
2007b).
Cycling in Berlin: Some Conclusions
Although Berlin does not come close to the bicycle orientation of the five
other case study cities in this article, it has a bike share of trips that is higher than
any other European city of comparable size. Moreover, it has roughly doubled
cycling levels in the past two decades by a concerted effort to improve cycling
conditions in the city, both through the provisions of a growing network of bike
paths and lanes and by traffic calming almost all its residential neighborhoods.
Berlin might not be a bicyclist’s paradise, but it offers some valuable lessons for
cities of comparable size on how best to promote cycling in such a large city.
Muenster6
Muenster has a long history of cycling, much like its neighboring cities in the
Netherlands. For many decades, it has had the highest bike share of trips of any
German city, thus leading to Muenster’s reputation as the most bicycling friendly
city in the country.
Muenster is the regional capital of Westphalia in northwestern Germany.
Located only 70km from the Dutch border, it has 278,000 inhabitants, including
6 Information on cycling in Muenster was collected directly from German transportation planners and
cycling experts. The main bicycling planners for Muenster, Martina Guettler and Stephan Boehme,
provided extensive information as well as corrections and improvements to this case study of Muenster.
Information was also collected from the following published sources: City of Muenster (2004 and 2007);
Boehme (2005); and Dutch Bicycling Council (2006).
Pucher and Buehler At the Frontiers of Cycling 52
about 55,000 university students, who provide an ideal source of potential cyclists
(City of Muenster, 2007). Similar to many Dutch and Danish cities, cycling in
Muenster benefits from a mostly flat topography. Although the city has a
reputation for being cloudy or rainy most days, its moderate temperatures facilitate
cycling by avoiding extreme heat and cold.
Another factor promoting cycling in Muenster is its compact urban form,
with 71% of the metropolitan region’s population living within a 7km radius of the
city center. In spite of continuing suburbanization, the city’s historic center remains
strong and vibrant, containing most of the shopping, educational, and employment
opportunities in the region. Reinforcing local efforts, the state of North Rhine-
Westphalia recently implemented regulations to prohibit large shopping centers and
outlet malls outside of established cities. That will strengthen the competitive
position of Muenster’s center relative to its suburbs (City of Muenster, 2004 and
2007).
Planning codes ensure considerable mixed land uses (especially commercial,
shopping, and residential), which promote short trips that can be covered by bike.
Most new residential developments in the suburbs are subject to strict planning
guidelines that require bicycling and pedestrian facilities as part of their basic
transport infrastructure. Moreover, many residential streets are deliberately
circuitous in order to discourage car traffic and to make walking and cycling safer.
Unlike many German cities destroyed in the Second World War, local
government officials decided to rebuild Muenster in virtually the same compact,
medieval form it had before the war. Thus, there are many winding, narrow streets
Pucher and Buehler At the Frontiers of Cycling 53
and no motorways or major arterials passing through the city center. As a matter
of deliberate traffic policy, through-traffic is diverted around the center by two
circumferential bypasses (City of Muenster, 2004 and 2007; Dutch Cycling
Federation, 2006).
Travel trends
The bicycling share of total trips in Muenster increased from 29.2% in 1982
to 35.2% in 2001, the year of the most recent comprehensive travel survey. By
comparison, walking trips fell sharply, from 25% of all local trips in 1982 to only
13% in 2001 (City of Muenster, 2004 and 2007; Boehme, 2005). Over the same
period, public transport’s share rose from 7% to 11% of all trips, mostly due to
improvements in overall route structure and service quality as well as special
discount semester tickets for the many university students.
Especially on rainy days, many students now take a bus instead of cycling.
Thus, it is all the more impressive that cycling’s share actually increased slightly
instead of falling. Overall, the environmental modes (bike+walk+public transport)
lost only 2% of their market share to the private car, whose proportion of local trips
rose from 39% in 1982 to 41% in 2001 (City of Muenster, 2004 and 2007; Boehme,
2005; Dutch Bicycling Council, 2006).
Overall policy goals
In spite of its already high bike share of local travel, the City of Muenster has
continually endeavored to improve cycling conditions in as many ways as possible.
The overall goals of the city are to preserve its position as Germany’s premier
cycling city, to increase cycling safety, to reduce bike theft, and to implement state-
Pucher and Buehler At the Frontiers of Cycling 54
of-the-art measures to enhance the convenience, feasibility, and overall
attractiveness of cycling for all age groups. Cycling plays a crucial role in the
nationwide image of Muenster, providing yet further motivation to reinforce its
position as Germany’s No. 1 Cycling City (City of Muenster, 2007).
Safety
Cycling in Muenster is safe. In their official report on the status of cycling,
the City emphasizes the low risk of being injured while cycling. In 2001, for
example, there were 606 bike crashes. In the same year, the residents of Muenster
made over 135 million bike trips, averaging only one cycling injury for every
223,000 trips. Unfortunately, the number of cycling injuries rose from 606 to 843
between 2001 and 2006 (City of Muenster, 2007). City cycling planners attribute the
additional cyclist crashes to an increase in motor vehicle traffic. They are now
intensifying their efforts to protect cyclists from motorists by implementing yet
more pro-bike policies and program than previously.
Nevertheless, cycling is still viewed by most of Muenster’s residents as very
safe. Perhaps for this reason, only about 2% of adult Muenster cyclists wear safety
helmets, and even among children, only about half wear helmets. The bikes of some
young children are equipped with special warning flags on tall poles attached to the
back of the bike to alert motorists to avoid endangering these young cyclists, who
are less visible than older, bigger cyclists. City officials have been trying to increase
the rate of helmet use and have achieved some success among young children. With
such low crash rates, however, most cyclists feel so safe that they quite simply do not
feel the need for helmets.
Pucher and Buehler At the Frontiers of Cycling 55
Traffic police strictly enforce cycling regulations and regularly give tickets to
cyclists riding in the wrong direction, running red lights and stop signs, and not
using lights at night. Perhaps even more important, police ticket motorists who
endanger bicyclists or otherwise disobey traffic laws intended to promote pedestrian
and cyclist safety. That dual strategy encourages safer cycling as well as safer
driving behavior (Boehme, 2005). Most traffic police in Muenster are trained to
patrol on bike as well. That ensures more effective policing of bicyclist behavior on
Muenster’s extensive pathway system. The widespread presence of police on bikes
also tends to further legitimize the rights of cyclists.
One of the most serious problems in Muenster is bike theft. Roughly 8,000
bikes are stolen every year (Dutch Bicycling Federation, 2006). To discourage bike
theft, police often set up surprise checkpoints around the city, forcing cyclists to
dismount to have the bikes’ registration number checked to determine if it is stolen.
At the same time, the police check bikes to be sure they are in safe working
condition and have the required safety features in order (reflectors, lights, etc.).
The other approach to reducing bike theft is the provision of secure, guarded bike
parking, as noted below.
Provision of cycling facilities
Muenster and its surrounding suburbs offer an extremely extensive, well-
integrated, and high-quality network of bicycling facilities, including bike paths,
bike lanes, bicycling streets, traffic calmed neighborhood streets, rural and
agricultural paths (Paettkes), and many lightly traveled roads ideal for cycling. The
City of Muenster itself (302 sq.km.) roughly doubled the extent of separate paths,
Pucher and Buehler At the Frontiers of Cycling 56
lanes, and combination bus-bike lanes from 145km in 1975 to 320km in 2005. In
addition, the city has designated over 300km of lightly traveled roads in its outlying
areas as on-street bicycling routes, with motor vehicle use restricted to residents
living along the roads and thus excluding through traffic. Within the more densely
developed area of the city, 12 streets are officially designated as bicycling streets
(Fahrradstrassen), where the entire width of the street is intended for cycling, but
where motor vehicles are usually permitted provide they travel at cyclist speeds and
do not endanger cyclists, who have priority over cars on these streets. The city has
plans to designate 10 more streets as bicycling streets, bringing the total number of
such streets to 22 (City of Muenster, 2007).
Of particular note is the famous bike/walk Promenade, a 4.5-km car-free
beltway that encircles the old town of the city and serves as connector and
distributor for 16 bike paths radiating outward toward the suburbs and 26 routes
leading to the city center and Cathedral Square. The bike path in the center of the
Promenade is very wide (about 7m) and is flanked by a completely separate
pedestrian path on each side, with rows of trees between the bike and pedestrian
portions of the beltway. Over 12,000 bike trips per day are made along this facility
(1,300 cyclists per hour during the daytime).
Muenster successfully developed a fully integrated, comprehensive system of
directional signs for cyclists, separate from those for motorists. They indicate
directions and distances to various destinations, and are color-coded to correspond
to the different types of bike route networks in the city and the surrounding
Muensterland region. The system is now being adopted in the rest of the state of
Pucher and Buehler At the Frontiers of Cycling 57
North Rhine-Westphalia, the most populous in Germany. There is also an Internet
bike trip planner for the entire state that permits the user to input the origin and
destination of a trip as well as preferences about the type of route, cycling speed, flat
vs. hilly gradients, separation from traffic (http://www.radroutenplaner.nrw.de).
The Internet planner then shows the suggested route on a map, along with various
details about the projected time and average speed of the trip.
The traffic calming of almost all residential neighborhoods in Muenster is
crucial to facilitating cycling on residential streets without the need to provide any
special bike lanes or paths at all. Thus, the speed limit on most residential streets is
30 km/hr or less. Many non-arterial residential streets—especially in new
residential areas—are yet further traffic calmed, with speed limits of 7 km/hr. They
are designated as “Spielstrassen” (play streets), which are equivalent to the Dutch
“Woonerf” and the British “Home Zone.” Traffic signs clearly notify motorists that
they must share the street with pedestrians, cyclists, and playing children, who have
traffic priority over cars on such streets (Boehme, 2005; City of Muenster, 2004 and
2007).
In addition, there are many car-free zones throughout the city—including
the main street (Prinzipalmarkt)—which are off-limits to cars but permit bike use.
Some pedestrian streets only allow cycling at off-peak hours when they are not so
crowded as to cause serious conflicts between pedestrians and cyclists.
Intersection treatments and traffic priority for cyclists
Most major intersections in Muenster have special arrangements for cyclists,
including special traffic signals for cyclists, usually giving them advance green lights
Pucher and Buehler At the Frontiers of Cycling 58
well before motorists. Many intersections also have advance stop positions for
cyclists, in front of waiting cars, thus giving them a head start in crossing the
intersection, increasing both the speed and safety of cycling. In addition, such
intersections offer special bike access lanes bringing the cyclists right up to the
intersection so that cyclists do not have to wait behind cars.
Throughout the city, cyclists are generally permitted to cycle in both
directions on one-way streets that are restricted to only one direction of travel for
cars. Moreover, cyclists are often permitted to make left or right turns where they
are prohibited by car. Finally, there are numerous short-cuts for cyclists
throughout the city, providing cyclists direct, off-street connections between streets
and paths that ensure them quick and convenient access to every part of the city.
By comparison, car travel is often detoured by artificial dead-ends and deliberate
street blockages of various sorts, reducing the speed and convenience of car travel.
Restrictions on cars
Just as in Odense and Groningen, much of the city center is off limits to cars.
It is not possible for cars to pass from one end of the city to the other through the
town center. That forces car traffic to take circumferential routes and helps
mitigate the congestion, environmental, and safety problems that the additional
through-traffic would cause in the city center. As already noted, speeds are
restricted to 30km/hr on virtually all residential streets, and a wide range of traffic
calming measures restrict both the speed, the direction, and routing of car travel.
The reduction of car parking spaces in the city center has also discouraged
car use there. New car parks have been built near the edge of the city center, with
Pucher and Buehler At the Frontiers of Cycling 59
motorists encouraged to park their cars there and then to walk, bike, or take a bus
to the center. Parking in many residential areas is restricted to neighborhood
residents. On-street parking is usually restricted in duration and its price rises
sharply with proximity to the city center. The restricted supply and high price of
parking obviously discourage car use and increase the relative convenience of
cycling (Boehme, 2005; Dutch Bicycling Council, 2006).
Coordination with public transport
Muenster greatly facilitates bike and ride by providing ample bike parking
at all train stations and many bus stops as well. For example, there are 3,300 bike
parking places in the modern, attractive, state-of-the-art bike parking station
immediately in front of the main train station. The Radstation (bike station) offers
short-term, medium-term, and long-term bike parking as well as bike repairs, bike
rentals, luggage storage, and direct access to the train platforms. Immediately next
to the bike parking station is the city’s main bus terminal serving dozens of bus lines
that serve the entire region. The careful co-location of bike parking with the main
train station and bus terminal obviously facilitates bike and ride with both transit
modes. Bikes can be taken on almost all trains in the Muenster region, but with
various fees charged, depending on trip distance and type of service. In contrast,
bikes are not allowed on most buses, and almost no buses are equipped with bike
racks (Boehme, 2005).
The modern bike station was built to help alleviate the so-called “parking
chaos” caused by more than 6,000 bikes parked every day on all sides of the main
train station. Since that did not succeed, the city has now vastly improved bike
Pucher and Buehler At the Frontiers of Cycling 60
parking at the rear of the station as well, with about 800 new bike racks installed.
Incredibly the new parking facilities only seem to attract more bikes and more bike
trips, since the train station continues to be surrounded on all sides by the same
6,000 bikes. At least the provision of more parking has given cyclists more options
for secure, sheltered parking.
Bike Parking
In addition to the impressive bike parking facilities at train stations and bus
stops, Muenster has extensive bike parking facilities of various sorts in all parts of
the city. The many thousands of parked bikes throughout Muenster have
practically become a trademark of the city, reinforcing its identity as Germany’s
No. 1 Bicycling City. There is hardly a building or private house without some sort
of bike parking. Churches, theatres, schools, university buildings, stores, pubs,
cafes, and restaurants are usually surrounded by parked bikes crowded onto nearby
sidewalks and public spaces. Since there are never enough bike racks, bikes are
often chained to posts of any sort, leaned up against a wall, or parked without
securing them to anything at all, resting on their own stands.
Surely, the most impressive bike parking facilities are at Muenster’s main
train station. The city has been trying to improve bike parking in other areas of the
city as well. The most recent expansion of bike parking was in February 2007, when
the city opened a secured, sheltered facility for 286 bikes in the new City Mall
downtown shopping area. That also features bike rentals, bike repairs, luggage
storage, and bike tour planning advice. Similar to the situation at the main train
station, however, this additional bike parking in the city’s main shopping district
Pucher and Buehler At the Frontiers of Cycling 61
hardly makes dent in the overall bike parking needs of the city. Most bikes are
simply parked on sidewalks, in plazas, or anywhere there is space to put a bike.
Bicycling promotion in Muenster
Muenster has a long tradition of promoting bicycling among all age groups,
starting with school children, who take lessons in bicycling safety in the 3rd or 4th
grades. The courses include practice runs on special cycling training courses as well
as on-the-road bike rides supervised by traffic police, who administer a cycling test
at the end of the safety course. Thus, children are taught safe cycling skills at a very
young age, enabling them to bike to school. Cycling training in the schools is only
the first step in Muenster’s cycling promotion programs. Others include (Boehme,
2005; Dutch Bicycling Council, 2006):
Annual bicycling festivals that promote the environmental advantages of
bicycling, display the latest bike models and accessories, and disseminate various
other relevant information for bike enthusiasts
Annual awards to firms that do the most to increase bicycling among their
employees by providing showers, lockers, bike parking, bikes to borrow, and a
flexible dress code
Reflecting its key role, the bicycle was chosen as the official symbol of the city
during the celebrations marking 1200 year anniversary of the founding of Muenster
in 793
Extensive bike tour planning offered by city tourism office, including wide
range of bike tours with different lengths, durations, themes, and locations
Pucher and Buehler At the Frontiers of Cycling 62
Superb series of bike maps for every part of the city and the surrounding
region, called the Muensterland
Well signed and maintained bike routes both in the city and the surrounding
countryside, with superb connections between different routes, color-coded,
systematic numbering of paths for improved guidance
Arrangements for cheap, bike-friendly accommodations for cycling tourists
on their bike tours through the region
Internet website for bicycling information in Muenster
Wide range of informational brochures available from City of Muenster on
every aspect of cycling, both in hard copy and downloadable from internet site
Range of bicycling competitions for different ages of children
Summary: Cycling in Muenster
Bicycling is an intrinsic part of life in Muenster. It is not just a normal,
accepted way to get around. For most residents, cycling is the primary means of
travel within the city. Bicycling is the dominant transport mode for women as well
as men and among all age groups, professions, and income classes. Truly, more
than any other German city, bicycling is key to the very identity of Muenster.
The high bike mode share in Muenster is an impressive accomplishment
given the high incomes and car ownership levels in Germany, as well as a host of
worldwide technological, economic, and social trends encouraging lower density
suburban sprawl and increasing trip distances. It seems likely that Muenster itself
will remain the vibrant, livable, attractive center of its region for many years to
come.
Pucher and Buehler At the Frontiers of Cycling 63
Although some degree of decentralization of both residences and workplaces
is inevitable, new suburban developments tend to be quite compact and bikeable.
Thanks to a wide range of pro-bike transport and land use policies, Muenster will
surely remain the bicycling capital of Germany.
Conclusions and Policy Implications
With the exception of Berlin, the cities examined in the preceding case
studies are truly models of what bicycling friendly cities should be. Cycling in
Amsterdam, Groningen, Copenhagen, Odense, and Muenster is so safe and
convenient that virtually everyone cycles: women as well as men, all age groups,
and all income classes. Moreover, they cycle for daily travel and for a wide range of
trip purposes.
For decades our five model cities have boasted bike shares of travel that have
been among the very highest in the Western World. But they have not rested on
their laurels. Although they already provide excellent overall conditions for cycling,
Europe’s best bicycling cities strive constantly to make things even better for cyclists
and thus to raise yet further their already very impressive cycling levels.
Berlin is an anomaly. It is much larger than Amsterdam and Copenhagen,
more spread out, and has both colder winters and hotter summers. Thus, it is
perhaps all the more impressive that Berlin has been making such a concerted effort
to encourage more cycling. City politicians, administrators and planners view
cycling as the only mode they can afford to invest in, since the city is bankrupt and
cannot afford large expenditures on new rail systems or highways. Berlin even
markets itself as the “sexy bankrupt city.” At least one advantage of its financial
Pucher and Buehler At the Frontiers of Cycling 64
distress is the stark realization that cycling is the most economical mode of
transport, in addition to being environmentally and socially sustainable.
To some extent, the cycling successes of the six cities rely on more and better
implementation of the same sorts of traditional policies that many other European
cities use. We briefly summarize those traditional pro-bike measures in Table 1.
Clearly, there is nothing revolutionary in these sorts of measures, but most of the
case study cities have done an especially good job implementing them. In addition,
the case study cities examined here have been particularly innovative, introducing
new approaches to encouraging cycling and making it safer. Table 2 summarizes
some key examples of such measures, all of which are described in detail in the six
case studies.
In our sample of six Dutch, Danish, and German cities, the most important
approach to making cycling safe, convenient, and attractive has been the provision
of separate cycling facilities along heavily traveled roads and at intersections,
combined with extensive traffic calming of residential neighborhoods. Safe and
relatively stress-free cycling routes are especially important for children, the elderly,
women, and for anyone with special needs due to any sort of disability. Providing
such separate facilities to connect practical, utilitarian origins and destinations also
promotes cycling for work, school, and shopping trips.
As noted in this article, separate facilities are only part of the solution.
Dutch, Danish, and German cities reinforce the safety, convenience, and
attractiveness of excellent cycling rights of way with extensive bike parking,
integration with public transport, comprehensive traffic education and training of
Pucher and Buehler At the Frontiers of Cycling 65
both cyclists and motorists, and a wide range of promotional events intended to
generate enthusiasm and wide public support for cycling.
At the same time, car use is made expensive, less convenient, and less
necessary through a host of taxes and restrictions on car ownership, use, and
parking. And land use policies foster relatively compact, mixed-use developments
that generate more bikeable, shorter trips.
The key to the success of cycling policies in the Netherlands, Denmark, and
Germany is the coordinated implementation of this multi-faceted, self-reinforcing
set of policies. Precisely because the policies are sensitive to the very different needs
of different social groups, they also succeed in making cycling possible for virtually
everyone. The Netherlands, Denmark, and Germany, as countries, have led the
world with their wide range of cycling policies and programs. Similarly,
Amsterdam, Groningen, Copenhagen, Odense, and Muenster have been at the
leading edge of cycling in their respective countries, and surely at the frontiers of
cycling in the world.
Acknowledgements
The authors are deeply indebted to a host of colleagues around the world for their
assistance and advice in writing this paper. They include national and local cycling
coordinators, city planners, transport researchers, national statistical experts,
department of transport officials, and public health experts, listed here
alphabetically: Peter Berkeley, Stefan Boehme, Frank Borgman, Linda
Christensen, Lewis Dijkstra, Bernhard Ensink, Bent Flyvbjerg, Per Garder,
Pucher and Buehler At the Frontiers of Cycling 66
Martina Guettler, Peter Herwig, Ria Hilshorst, Roland Jannermann, Niels Jensen,
Cor van der Klaauw, Jutta Kloas, Thomas Krag, Wolfgang Richter, Piet Rietveld,
Birgit Schmidt, Horst Wohlfarth von Alm, and Bert Zinn.
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1% 1% 1% 2% 2% 3% 3% 4% 5% 6%
8%
10% 10% 11%
18%
27%
0%
5%
10%
15%
20%
25%
30%
Percent of trips by bicycle
Figure 1. Bicycle share of trips in Europe, North America, and Australia (Percent of
total trips by bicycle)
Source: European Conference of the Ministers of Transport (2004); European Union
(2003); U.S. Department of Transportation (2003); Netherlands Ministry of Transport
(2006), German Federal Ministry of Transport (2003); Department for Transport (2005)
Pucher and Buehler At the Frontiers of Cycling 71
18%
7% 8% 8% 10% 12%
20%
17%
13% 13% 12% 10% 12%
35% 36%
22% 23% 24%
0.0%
5.0%
10.0%
15.0%
20.0%
25.0%
30.0%
35.0%
14-18
18-25
26-45
46-60
60-65
65 +
16-19
20-29
30-39
40-49
50-59
60-69
70-74
0-15
16-25
26-45
46-64
65 +
Germany Denmark Netherlands
Percent of trips by bike
Figure 2. Bicycling share of trips by age group in the Netherlands, Denmark, and
Germany (2000-2002)
Sources: German Federal Ministry of Transport (2003); Danish Ministry of Transport
(2007); Statistics Netherlands (2005)
Pucher and Buehler At the Frontiers of Cycling 72
1.1
1.5 1.5 1.7 2.0 2.4
3.0
3.5
5.8
0.0
1.0
2.0
3.0
4.0
5.0
6.0
7.0
Netherlands Denmark Sweden Germany France Canada UK Italy US
Figure 3. Bicycling fatality rates in European countries, Canada, and the US (2002)
Source: Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (2005); European
Union (2003); and U.S. Department of Transportation (2003 and 2007)
Pucher and Buehler At the Frontiers of Cycling 73
• Extensive bike parking at metro, suburban, and regional train stations
• Strict enforcement of cyclist rights by police and courts
Source: Information provided directly to authors by bicycling coordinators in the Netherlands, Denmark, and
Germany.
Traffic education and training
• Comprehensive cycling training courses for school children
• Special cycling training test tracks for children
• Stringent training of motorists to respect pedestrians and cyclists
Traffic laws
Coordination with public transport
• Bike rentals at train stations
• Special legal protection for children and elderly cyclists
• Traffic calming of residential neighborhoods via speed limit (30km/h) and physical infrastructure
deterrents for cars
• "Home Zones" with 5 km/h speed limit, where cars must yield to pedestrians and cyclists using the road
Bike parking
• Large supply of good bike parking throughout the city
Intersection modifications and priority traffic signals
• Advance green lights for cyclists
• Advanced cyclist waiting positions (ahead of cars) fed by special bike lanes facilitate safer and quicker
crossings and turns
Traffic calming
Table 1. Traditional measures used in virutally all Dutch, Danish, and German cities
to promote cycling
Extensive systems of separate cycling facilities
• Well maintained, fully integrated paths and lanes
• Connected off-street short-cuts, such as mid-block connections, and passages through dead ends for cars
%
Bike
Mode
Share
420 km
500 km
Innovations
• Free city bikes for cycling within the city
• Bike network built to avoid traffic lights and speed up bike travel
• Eleven bicycle streets, where bikes have priority over cars
40%
km of
separated
bike paths
and lanes
• "Park and Bike" : discount bike rentals for motorists parking cars
City
(population in
1,000)
Muenster (278)
Groningen
(181)
Country
Amsterdam
(735)
• Strict land use policy keeps settlement dense (78% of residents and 90% of jobs within 3km
• Special cycling courses for immigrant women and children
• Large guarded bike parking garages at all train stations
• Short cuts for bikes at intersections, mid-block connections, and through dead ends for cars
• 20,500 on-road bike parking spaces in the city
• Separated bike paths turn into brightly colored bike lanes at intersections
• Annual bicycle account survey that tracks cyclists' satisfaction with bike infrastructure
• Special program to prevent bike theft, by engraving owner postal code into the frame of the bike to discourage theft
• 3,800km of traffic calmed streets (72% of all roads in the city)
• 22,600 bike parking spots at metro and suburban rail stations
• City provided modern magnetic-electric bike lights to 4,000 cyclists for free
• Firms provide free bikes for employees to make trips during work hours
GermanyThe Netherlands Denmark
• Europe's first guarded parking facility opened here in 1982; expanded to 30 guarded facilities by 2007
• Extensive bike parking at all transit stops
Berlin (3,400) 10% 900 km
25%
320 km
Odense (185)
Copenhagen
(500)
35%
375 km
• The "FahrRat" bike council provides a platform for opinion exchange among stakeholders from businesses, the bike industry, the city
administration, research institutes, universities, bike experts, and citizen advocacy groups
• Deluxe full-service parking garages for 3,300 bikes at the main train station and for 300 bikes in the main shopping district
20%
• Extensive bicycling network connecting the city to the suburbs via 26 radial bike routes linked by circumferential bikeway
• Hundreds of short cuts for cyclists at intersections, mid-block connections, and dead ends
• Bike path connecting Copenhagen to Berlin encourages bike tourism in both cities
35% 400 km
• Traffic signals are synchronized at cyclist speeds assuring consecutive green lights for
• 4.5 km circumferential car-free "bike beltway" around old city
• Bicyclist priority signals at most intersections
• Fully integrated, separate, and color coded set of signs for bikes
• Deluxe bike parking garages at the main train station, with video surveillance, special lighting, and music
• Free-lance trouble shooting cyclists survey bike infrastructure and are paid for each reported necessary repair
• Many intersections are equipped with advanced bicycling waiting positions (ahead of cars) as well as priority traffic signals
• Cyclist short cuts to make right-hand turns at normal intersections and exemption from red traffic signals at T-intersections, thus increasing
cyclist speed and safety
Table 2. Innovative measures recently implemented in Dutch, Danish, and German cities to promote safe and convenient cycling
• Statewide integrated, felxible internet bicycling planning tool allows finding the most comfortable route by bike in Muenster and all of the surrounding
• Bike path connecting Copenhagen to Berlin encourages bike tourism in both cities
• City policies favor cycling as most cost effective transport in a bankrupt city
• Bollards with flashing lights along bike routes signal cyclists the right speed to reach the next intersection at a green light
• A special vehicle with laser x-ray technology regularly inspects all bike paths and lanes for potential surface repair needs
• German railways' "Call-a-Bike" program: 3,000 bikes can be rented by cell phone, paid for by the minute and left at any busy intersection in the
• Flexible internet bike trip planning tool allows finding the most comfortable or quickest route by bike
• 70 km of shared bike-bus lanes and 100km of shared bike-pedestrian facilities
• Land use planning enforces good mix of uses and keeps trips short and bikeable: 45% of all trips are shorter than 3km
Source: Information provided directly to authors by bicycling coordinators in the Netherlands, Denmark, and
Germany.
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Cycling is a particularly favoured for short urban trips because it is a healthy and environmentally benign activity. As a result, urban mobility, quality of life, and public health are enhanced, while traffic congestion and pollution are decreased. In looking beyond the street network in terms of how it affects cyclists’ behavior choices, Bill Hillier’s (1984) outstanding legacy research on spatial space syntax is investigated in this study. The goal of this study is to determine if an urban area’s street network morphology influences commuters’ inclination to ride their bicycles to work. To further understand the nonlinear consequences of street network geometry on the estimation of cycling to work, a logarithmic-transformed regression model that includes base socioeconomic components, urban form, and street network variables represented by space syntax measure factors is developed. In conclusion, this model determined that bike commuting choice is significantly associated with the centrality index of Connectivity, although this is in combination with socioeconomic factors (age, gender, affluence, housing type, and housing price) and built environment factors (share of commercial, educational activities and distance to the CBD) factors. The findings of this study would be of value to planners and policy makers in support of evidence-based policy formulation to improve the design of bicycle networks in suburban regions.
... While the rules were different, the two countries shared a range of other characteristics that are relevant when comparing phone use among cyclists. Both countries are known for their high cycling levels, flat topography, pro-cycling policies and infrastructure (Haustein, Kroesen, & Mulalic, 2020;Pucher & Buehler, 2007, 2008, which applies particularly to larger cities in Denmark, while being more common all over the Netherlands (Koglin, te Brömmelstroet, & van Wee, 2021). Further, the countries have high digital adoption rates, and the number of mobile phone service subscriptions, for example, exceeds the number of inhabitants (ITU, 2021). ...
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Phone use is likely to distract cyclists and possibly increase crash risk. Therefore, handheld phone use among cyclists is forbidden by law in some countries, even though cyclists use compensatory strategies to attempt to mitigate distractions and related effects. Both demographic, environmental, and psychological factors have been associated with cyclists’ phone use. This study extends the existing literature by including traffic rule beliefs as an explanatory measure in predicting cyclists’ handheld phone use and additionally explores how well cyclists know these rules in different legislative contexts. Online questionnaire responses were collected in 2019 among 1055 cyclists living in Denmark (N = 568), where handheld phone use for cyclists was forbidden, and in the Netherlands (N = 487), where it was legal. Responses on phone use, traffic rule knowledge, cycling behaviour, demographic, and psychological measures were used to identify factors contributing to the likelihood of handheld phone use in three regression models; one for all respondents and one for each country. In the combined model, believing there are no rules on handheld phone use increased the likelihood of handheld phone use while cycling. Other significant factors were subjective norm, perceived behavioural difficulty, self-identity as a safe cyclist as well as demographic factors. The country-specific models found that male gender was only associated with more handheld phone use in the Netherlands, while believing there was no ban was only connected to an increase in the likelihood of using handheld phone in Denmark. Correct traffic rule knowledge was almost three times higher in Denmark, where handheld phone use was forbidden. The results identify subjective norms, potential overconfidence, and traffic rule awareness (when there is a ban) as relevant factors in reducing the likelihood of cyclists’ handheld phone use. Findings from country-specific models possibly point to a connection between culture and traffic rules. Future research should focus on underlying mechanisms and awareness of traffic rules.
... Where possible, cycling-only streets (or cycling highways) can be created. Cycling networks must be fully integrated and interconnected within cities (Pucher and Buehler 2007). As the crucial (and most accident-prone) links of the cycling network, intersections must also be carefully designed to reduce the risks of collisions and achieve seamlessness (Monsere et al. 2020). ...
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Resumo A Política Nacional de Mobilidade Urbana motiva os municípios brasileiros a desenvolver uma série de ações a favor dos transportes públicos coletivos e não motorizados, mas ainda são escassos os casos bem-sucedidos de promoção de transporte urbano sustentável no Brasil. Este artigo analisa a experiência de Campinas na promoção do transporte cicloviário, que é comparada com um caso de sucesso no mundo, Groningen (Holanda). As análises baseiam-se em entrevistas realizadas com gestores públicos e especialistas nas duas cidades em estudo. Os resultados mostram fatores institucionais essenciais para o sucesso ou fracasso da política de mobilidade cicloviária. Destaca-se, particularmente, que ações de desestímulo ao uso do veículo privado são tão importantes quanto as de promoção do uso de bicicletas.
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In the Netherlands, municipalities are increasingly installing a new type of bikeway - fietsstraat, which is shared by bicycles and cars, with priority given to the former. The aim of this study is to examine design guidelines and practices of fietsstraten in terms of places where they are applied and street design to reveal similarities and differences between those guidelines and practices. It turns out that design guidelines on the places are consistent, and practices generally follow the guidelines. Regarding street design, design guidelines advocate various profiles while practices use various profiles according to unique criteria. In addition, it was found that both cyclists and motorists understand their correct position on the streets as the number of the streets increases.
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In Japan, accidents between pedestrians and cyclists are rapidly increasing. It is urgent to provide space for cyclists to ride separately not only from cars but also from pedestrians. Denmark and the Netherlands boast the highest bike share in the world. This paper examines design manuals and plans for bicycle infrastructure from both countries focusing on how to design bikeways. It turns out that the Dutch design manual is more comprehensive and concrete than the Danish counterpart, paying more attention to the network of bikeways. On the other hand, both countries try to allow cyclists to ride side by side on bikeways, are cautious about cyclists' riding on sidewalks, and advocate admitting cyclists into pedestrian zones.
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A naturalistic experiment used an instrumented bicycle to gather proximity data from overtaking motorists. The relationship between rider position and overtaking proximity was the opposite to that generally believed, such that the further the rider was from the edge of the road, the closer vehicles passed. Additionally, wearing a bicycle helmet led to traffic getting significantly closer when overtaking. Professional drivers of large vehicles were particularly likely to leave narrow safety margins. Finally, when the (male) experimenter wore a long wig, so that he appeared female from behind, drivers left more space when passing. Overall, the results demonstrate that motorists exhibit behavioural sensitivity to aspects of a bicyclist's appearance during an encounter. In the light of previous research on drivers' attitudes to bicyclists, we suggest drivers approaching a bicyclist use physical appearance to judge the specific likelihood of the rider behaving predictably and alter their overtaking accordingly. However, the extent to which a bicyclist's moment-to-moment behaviour can be inferred from their appearance is questionable, and so the tendency for drivers to alter their passing proximity based on this appearance probably has implications for accident probability.
Article
Females are substantially less likely than males to cycle for transport in countries with low bicycle transport mode share. We investigated whether female commuter cyclists were more likely to use bicycle routes that provide separation from motor vehicle traffic. Census of cyclists observed at 15 locations (including off-road bicycle paths, on-road lanes and roads with no bicycle facilities) within a 7.4 km radius of the central business district (CBD) of Melbourne, Australia, during peak commuting times in February 2004. 6589 cyclists were observed, comprising 5229 males (79.4%) and 1360 females (20.6%). After adjustment for distance of the bicycle facility from the CBD, females showed a preference for using off-road paths rather than roads with no bicycle facilities (odds ratio [OR]=1.43, 95% confidence interval [CI]: 1.12, 1.83), or roads with on-road bicycle lanes (OR=1.34, 95% CI: 1.03, 1.75). Consistent with gender differences in risk aversion, female commuter cyclists preferred to use routes with maximum separation from motorized traffic. Improved cycling infrastructure in the form of bicycle paths and lanes that provide a high degree of separation from motor traffic is likely to be important for increasing transportation cycling amongst under-represented population groups such as women.
Odense: The National Cycle City of Denmark. Powerpoint presentation made in October
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Andersen, T. (2005). Odense: The National Cycle City of Denmark. Powerpoint presentation made in October, 6, 2005, at the annual conference of the Bicycling Federation of Australia, Brisbane, Australia
Fahrradfahren in Muenster. Powerpoint presentation provided directly by City of Muenster's Department of Transport Planning
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Boehme, S. (2005). Fahrradfahren in Muenster. Powerpoint presentation provided directly by City of Muenster's Department of Transport Planning. Muenster, Germany: City of Muenster, 2005, pp. 86.
Continuous and integral: The cycling policies of Groningen and other European cycling cities. Fietsberaad Publication 7 Available in pdf format from Fietsberaad website
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Dutch Bicycling Council (2006).Continuous and integral: The cycling policies of Groningen and other European cycling cities. Fietsberaad Publication 7. Amsterdam, NL: Fietsberaad, April, 2006, pp. 65-70. Available in pdf format from Fietsberaad website: http://www.fietsberaad.nl/
Cycling in the Netherlands
Netherlands Ministry of Transport (2006). Cycling in the Netherlands. Rotterdam: Ministry of Transport, Public Works, and Water Management.
German Transportation in Figures
German Federal Ministry of Transport (2007). German Transportation in Figures.
Call a Bike Deutsche Bahn Accessible online at
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German Railways (2007). Call a Bike. Berlin, Germany: Deutsche Bahn. Accessible online at: http://www.db.de/site/bahn/de/reisen/mobilitaetskette/callabike/callabike.html
Choosing for the cyclist; Bicycle program
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City of Amsterdam (2007). Choosing for the cyclist; Bicycle program 2007 – 2010.
Danish National Travel Surveys
Danish Ministry of Transport (2007). Danish National Travel Surveys. Copenhagen, DK: Danish Institute of Transport Research.