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Bicycle demonstration for the cycling activist Andreas Mandalka, who died in an accident, in Pforzheim


Uli Deck / dpa

He died in a traffic accident on his bicycle, of all people: "Natenom", his self-chosen name online, 43, a bicycle activist and blogger in southwest Germany, had campaigned for more safety in road traffic. After his death, around 400 cyclists gathered in Pforzheim this Sunday for a memorial ride.

People drove about 15 kilometers to the scene of the accident and set up a “ghost bike” there. These white-colored bicycles are intended to commemorate cyclists who died in traffic.

The ADFC Pforzheim-Enzkreis cycling club, among others, called for the campaign: "The central demand of the demonstrations is better protection for cyclists and pedestrians in road traffic: through structurally separated cycle paths, increased controls on overtaking distances, consistent punishment of traffic violations and comprehensive speed limits," said the ADFC.

“Natenom”, whose real name was Andreas Mandalka, died of his injuries at the end of January at the scene of the accident near Neuhausen (Enzkreis). The police are investigating a 77-year-old driver on suspicion of negligent homicide. A spokeswoman did not comment on the background to the accident or the current status of the investigation.

“Natenom” had commented on various topics on its own blog and website, including extensive information about his experiences as a cyclist. For example, he wrote that many overtaking maneuvers by drivers made him "damn afraid."

The activist also explained why he usually drives with a safety vest and camera: “There's just so much happening. From intentionally narrow overtaking to physical threats, everything is there." This also happens to other cyclists who travel a lot, not just him.

It was only at the end of January, shortly before his death, that the 43-year-old reported an experience with a driver whom he helped and who - in his impression - was overwhelmed with his own car. It was “not a good feeling” to let someone like that continue driving, wrote “Natenom”.

In addition to Pforzheim, there should also be memorial trips in Ulm and Offenburg in the afternoon to mark his death. According to the latest data from the Federal Statistical Office, 474 people died while cycling in 2022. Of the cyclists killed, 208 were traveling on a Pedelec, also known as an e-bike.

In a long-term comparison, the number of traffic deaths is declining overall. However, the numbers for drivers killed fall much more significantly than for cyclists killed. The share of cyclists in traffic fatalities has almost doubled from nine percent in 2000 to 17 percent in 2022.