The fear of Covid-19 infection changed the way people travel to work all around the world, and Germany is no exception. The general interest in cycling has been continually growing, and the German government wants to push that trend even further by persuading more citizens to start commuting by bike.
A program called National Cycling Plan 3.0 has been revealed in Germany, with many political and economic instruments that should enable people to switch from other means of transport to more environmentally friendly cycling. But why?
According to the Federal Ministry of Transport and Digital Infrastructure, cycling is one of the important tools that could help tackle climate change and protect our living environment. Moreover, cycling has a positive impact on life in cities, as bikes require less space than other vehicles. Getting more people on bikes and public transport will reduce congestion in city centres and main roads, creating less pollution and noise. In many surveys, towns with a high percentage of people cycling are rated as healthy and liveable.
To reach its national and international climate targets, the German government intends to double the number of cyclists by 2030. This would lower CO2 emissions by 3 to 4 million tonnes every year, according to Cycling Plan 3.0. The strategy has been discussed with industry associations, non-government organisations and others. About 2,220 public suggestions, proposals and ideas and more than 26,000 evaluations were considered while creating the plan. To kickstart the trend and reach the targets, the government already announced that it will invest 1.5 billion euros over the next two years.
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With that money, we can expect to see many changes over the next few years in Germany. The federal and land governments will extend the cycle-path infrastructure, promoting cycling as a healthy means of transport, encouraging people to switch to bikes, building new cycling park facilities and supporting the use of company bicycle fleets and cargo bikes. As a result of coordination between the federal government and land authorities, a network of new cycle roads running alongside main highways will be constructed.
The plan should increase the number of bicycle trips in Germany, which now represents 11% of all city commuter trips. For inspiration, the German Ministry of Transport referred to countries like the Netherlands and Denmark, where 18 to 27% of all city trips are made by bicycles. The average number of individual bike trips made annually would increase from 120 to 180, and the overall daily distance covered by bikes should increase from 112 million kilometres in 2017 to 224 million kilometres by 2030. That means the average bike trip will be extended from the current 3.7 to 6 kilometres.
How does the government intend to reach these goals? Employees, for example, will be freed from some taxes when they decide to take and advantage of leasing an e-bike or a pedelec from their employers.
With more safe cycle paths separated from traffic and other traffic regulations, the number of fatal accidents on the roads should drop by 40% over the same period. Transport Minister Andreas Scheuer said that with the new plan, the government will transform Germany into a bicycle country. Let’s see how the plan progresses over the next few years.