Bicycle City of Germany - Muenster

Muenster, the bicycle-city of Germany – an excellent example for the promotion of non-motorised urban transport
- Manfred Breithaupt

During the past years Münster became Germany’s bicycle capital. With a proportion of 37.6% the bicycle is the prevailing transport mode there. Nearly half a million bicycles in comparison to 280,000 inhabitants requires a specific focus on the demands of cyclists. Today the city of Münster provides a high standard of infrastructure and safety for cycling. In contrast, 10 years ago Münster’s road safety was very poor. 50% of all traffic-injured were cyclists. Therefore local politicians decided to elaborate a new policy “Vision Zero” meeting the particular needs of the vulnerable bicyclists and equally considering the failures and limited capacity of humans. With the introduction of “Vision Zero” an elimination of road causalities was targeted. Further, a high standard in road safety, mutual consideration and compliance with traffic laws became the basics of Münster’s new policies in mobility.

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To combat non-compliance with right-of-ways and red traffic lights, the main reasons for accidents, Münster implemented new transport infrastructure and intensified traffic regulation and monitoring. In the scope of these measures cycle-paths along main roads, extended cycle high ways with a minimum width of 5meters and cycle-bridges and -tunnels at intersections were constructed. Further, the area of the former city wall was changed to a cycle-promenade, traffic speed was limited to 30km/h in residential areas and segregated parking spaces were provided to avoid parking at cycle-paths. To increase the flexibility and attractiveness one-ways were opened for free cycling. As an essential measure to reduce accidents where cyclists are involved the overall visibility of cycle-routing was improved, too. Today Münster supplies a high-performance cycle-network with a total length of 457 kilometres. For maintenance, parking as well as rental and purchase adequate options are available. The penalisation with non-compliance of traffic laws is regulated in a specific cycle code. To strengthen the safety of cyclists for instance cycling with blood alcohol or without the required lighting is punished by fines.

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Funded by local and national institutions the feasibility of these measures has been ensured by a shift of political and administrative engagement towards safety and capacity of cycle-paths.

All these measures led to several improvements in Münster’s city environment. Due to partial modal shift towards cycling the overall traffic volume of vehicles was reduced. Hence noise and emission decreased, too. Enhanced road safety supports especially the most vulnerable traffic participants. Nowadays elderly people and children are able to cycle secure at a higher level of convenience. Another benefit is the grown flexibility and the enhanced state of health. For example when cycling on their daily travel to school children do not need a lift by their parents anymore. Thus families can save time and costs. Additionally children are able to concentrate at school which increases their learning ability there.

munster-article-03.jpgDuring the past years Münster developed to a city with increased quality of life and road safety. Although many improvements took place, there are still challenges to optimise the current state of transport.

Nevertheless Münster, its engagements towards cycling as well as its improvements in road safety serve as a standard for sustainable urban transportation.

References:
-    Vision Zero - Ordnungspartnerschaft Verkehrsunfallprävention, OB der Stadt Münster Copyright Köln, Juni 1020
-    http://www.nationaler-radverkehrsplan.de/neuigkeiten/news.php?id=3057
-    http://www.muenster.de/en/bicycles.php

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