On the bike highway through Berlin
Cycling is becoming increasingly popular in urban areas. It offers you all the advantages of individual transport because you move around the city independently of buses, trams and trains.
Cycling is healthy, environmentally friendly and flexible. However, the fact that the city can be a tough place for cyclists is challenging. Bike Highways could change this drastically. On them, cyclists would have the right of way, they ride in their own area in the traffic and would have a safer distance to other road users. How far have the plans progressed?
More cyclists since 2020
The year 2020, in particular, showed that this form of individual transport has a high growth trend. Due to the Corona pandemic, people avoided public transport because the risk of infection is simply more likely. City planners are reacting to this and making their road traffic more cyclist-friendly. This is also the case in Berlin, where a number of fast bike lanes are being planned. The special feature here is that already existing pathways are to be used for the extension of some routes.
Bike highways in Berlin as a concept for the future
In some European countries, high-speed cycle paths are already much more widespread than in Germany. The Netherlands and Denmark could serve as models here. Amsterdam or Copenhagen are now known for having been designed to be particularly cyclist-friendly. In the Dutch capital, about 25% of working people use their bikes to get to work. By comparison, this is only true of 11% in Germany.
Cycling in Denmark – an example
A really well-developed cycle path ensures that you reach your destination quickly. Copenhagen opened a high-speed cycle path in 2012. It leads from the suburb of Albertslund to the centre of the Danish capital. The distance is 15 kilometres and if you travel at 20 kilometres per hour, it will only take you 45 minutes.
Considering that it would take you a similar amount of time by car and that you would have to endure stressful stop-and-go, cycling proves to be a clear alternative here. Maybe that’s why half of all Copenhagen residents prefer to cycle to work. A figure we would also like to see in Berlin.
Climate-neutral thanks to cycling
Bike highways should become an alternative in the future. The German government has set itself the goal of becoming as climate-neutral as possible by 2050. So the big goal stays to save carbon dioxide. It can only achieve this by making environmentally friendly methods of transport more attractive. It doesn’t get much more climate-neutral than travelling by bike.
You move around with your own muscle power and the only thing you emit are calories.
With an e-bike, you can reach higher speeds with less effort and definitely get an alternative to the car.
What are the advantages of fast bike lanes for Berlin?
A bike highway ensures that you get from A to B quickly with your bike, as the name suggests. They, therefore, serve less of a tourist purpose but are mainly aimed at the inhabitants of a city. Thanks to the express cycle path, you can commute from your home to your workplace without any problems.
From an ecological point of view, this serves the long-term purpose of giving you an obvious advantage over the car. No traffic jams, no annoying search for a parking space, and with an e-bike, you can even get there without exerting too much effort.
Advantages of fast bike lanes
For commuters who prefer to cycle to work, the fast cycle route offers several other advantages:
- enables medium-length distances to be covered
- Safe driving, parallel to busy roads becomes possible
- makes cycling an alternative to public transport and the car
Public advantages of fast cycle paths
But it is not only for yourself that the fast bike lanes bring great benefits. The general public benefits from a number of aspects:
- less pollution from combustion engines
- reduced energy consumption
- less congestion and thus improved local mobility.
So you see, the advantages of a fast cycle path cannot be denied. Accordingly, it’s time for them to become a reality in Berlin soon.
What distinguishes fast cycle paths for Berlin
Not every cycle path is a bike highway. In order to be designated as such, the route must meet certain conditions set by the Allgemeine Deutsche Fahrrad-Club (ADFC). These include the following points:
- must allow for constant speed
- instead of crossings, overpasses and subways
- if possible, no steep inclines or declines
- a surface that is easy to ride on
- straight course and wide enough for overtaking manoeuvres
The aim of these lanes is to encourage commuters to use bicycles even for medium-length journeys of between 10 and 20 kilometres.
To facilitate the construction of the express cycle lanes, they usually run alongside roads. This means that they run parallel to a road. This offers some advantages in planning, as the path is already predetermined. They must remain separated from the road by structural measures. A green strip, for example, serves this purpose.
They run either as bi-directional cycle paths or as one-way cycle paths on the respective side of the road. Depending on their course, the cycle paths lead through cycle lanes or zones with a speed limit. However, these areas may not bear the designation »express cycle path«.
Fast cycle lanes in Germany – how does it work?
In Germany, the list of express cycle paths is unfortunately still short and in Berlin, they are only in the planning stage. Should they become reality, things will look good for Berlin cyclists in the future.
The federal government is clearly lagging behind here in comparison to the neighbouring countries of the Netherlands and Denmark. This is because it has still not been clearly clarified who is responsible for financing. Indeed, the responsibility for expanding the cycling infrastructure falls to the federal states and municipalities. However, they often cannot afford the investments.
In the meantime, the government has declared the expansion of the high-speed cycle paths to be the responsibility of the federal government and is assuming the costs. Since then, some of the paths have been in the planning stage and we are waiting for them to be completed.
In Berlin, there is not yet a high-speed cycle path that we can use. Other German regions are already further along. The route between Darmstadt and Frankfurt (FRM 1), for example, is already fully usable with its length of 30 kilometres. Shorter routes exist in the city of Göttingen and around Osnabrück and Wuppertal.
The bike highway Ruhr (RS 1), with a length of 101 kilometres, is currently the longest that you can cover quickly on your bike. More sections are under construction or in planning. But there is definitely still a lot of potential to make commuting easier and to get more people to leave their cars behind.
Finally fast bike lanes for Berlin?
But what about Germany’s capital Berlin? The conditions would be good for fast bike lanes, as there are no or only minimal uphill or downhill slopes within the city. A look at various websites reveals that some paths are in the planning stage. At least 100 kilometres are to be created on high-speed cycle routes.
This would be a great enrichment for the city itself, as it would loosen up road traffic, reduce exhaust fumes and get more Berliners on the move.
Although there is a well-developed public transport network here, it is often overloaded and struggles with delays. Depending on where you want to go, you often have to change trams. In short, for many Berliners and tourists, a well-developed network of fast bike paths would be a significant enrichment for their daily commute.
Feasibility studies have already been able to verify seven of the ten planned routes for high-speed cycle connections. From these, experts calculated the respective costs, how wide the routes could be extended and whether they would be considered. Things are moving forward in Berlin and you may soon be able to cycle quickly through the capital.
Current situation vs. future
Currently, as already mentioned, there are no fast bike lanes in Berlin. As a result, commuters with their bikes usually use the same routes as car drivers. As a result, dangerous situations often occur. Especially when there are not enough cycle lanes.
The speed limit in Berlin and London is higher than in other cities. In conclusion, it can be said that the German capital is still a tough place for cyclists.
What does the future hold for the fast bike lanes in Berlin?
With the construction of the bike highway, Berlin wants to make cycling in the capital faster and safer. This will be ensured in the future by an extensive network of fast cycle paths. These offer a comfortable way of getting around, in that they are safe, well-lit and well-surfaced. Above all, there is no danger of colliding with a car.
The goal here is also to make cycling a faster mode of transport. To this end, the paths will have a width of three metres for one-way traffic and four metres for two-way traffic. The length is to be at least five kilometres within the S-Bahn ring of three kilometres.
According to the plans, an extensive network of cycle paths will offer safe cycling in Berlin through all parts of the city. To achieve this, the planners are partly using existing routes that connect important points within the city traffic.
Berlin is planning these cycle paths
If you take a look at the planned express cycle paths in Berlin, you will see that the city is partly trying to work with existing architectural features. The paths are to run parallel to roads or railway lines. Completed feasibility studies exist for the following routes:
- Y-Trasse (RSV 1)
- Königsweg – Kronprinzessinnenweg (RSV 3)
- Panke-Trail (RSV 4)
- West-Route (RSV 5)
- Teltowkanalroute (RSV 6)
- Spandauer Damm – Freiheit (RSV 7)
- Nonnendammallee – Falkenseer Chaussee (RSV 8)
As a result of these feasibility studies, initial route variants, recommendations for action and cost calculations are already available. These calculations are missing for three further routes, but with the studies, the preliminary stages of planning have been completed. The construction of a bicycle highway is accompanied by a number of official processes. This means that it may well take more approval procedures before the expansion can finally start and Berliners can use their new express cycle lanes.
An idea for a practical express cycle route directly through Berlin
Not yet included in the list of express cycle paths, but nevertheless also in the planning stage, is a very special and practical idea. Between Zentrum West/Zoo, Kreuzberg and Friedrichshain, a cycle fast track is to be built directly under the U1. This proposal has already been awarded the Federal Ecodesign Prize 2015.
Many cyclists decide against their bikes, especially on rainy days, and switch to cars or public transport. As a result, roads and public transport are particularly congested on such days.
Within the route, the U1 runs above ground. The area under the line is protected as a historic monument and completely unused. However, it would offer enough space for a comfortable fast track, which would also be covered.
Careful use of resources
What is new about this planning is that it is particularly sparing with resources and uses existing architecture to shape the city. The space below the elevated railway viaduct is unused space. This space is becoming increasingly scarce in Berlin and must therefore be used more economically. This is a problem that can be found in many urban spaces. Clever, new and innovative urban planning is essential here.
Another advantage is that the U1 and with it the planned cycle path run right through the middle of Berlin. The route between Bahnhof Zoo, Kreuzberg and Friedrichshain is regularly used by residents as well as tourists. A cycle path right in the centre of Berlin would give many people the opportunity to move around the city centre without any problems. It leads through built-up squares and green spaces and thus also offers tourists an optimal overview of what the city is all about.
Making the most of fast bike paths in Berlin with an e-bike
Of course, a fast bike path makes sense especially if you can make the most of it. The paths are designed to allow a continuous speed of about 20 kilometres per hour. But you can get to your destination even more effectively and quickly on an e-bike. The cycle paths are ideally suited for these means of transport.
There are often fears that e-bikes might be too heavy and bulky, especially for life in Berlin. There are a few things owners need to be aware of here. Not everyone wants to leave their bike outside, so it either goes into the bike cellar or their own flat. That means you have to carry it up and down the stairs. If it starts to rain or you use public transport for other reasons while you are out with your bike, you have to take it with you on the train. In short, the bike should be light enough and fit the spontaneous lifestyle of city dwellers.
Lightweight E-bikes from Ampler Bikes
When choosing your e-bike, you should think about every daily step to see if it is practical for you. If the bike suits you and your life you will use it regularly. Thus do something good for yourself, your environment and the traffic in the city.
That’s why Ampler Bikes offers practical, lightweight e-bikes for the city. Above all, they offer a low weight and simple design as well as a long range. They are thus aimed at people who commute within their city. The e-bikes have all the features you need to use it really every day and to take the bike to work and to the daily errands. In the showroom in Berlin and of cause here you will find our three city e-bikes: Curt, Stout and Stellar.