Fast, faster, RadentscheidWürzburg. The demands of the Bavarian cycling activists were clear: The city should rebuild the bicycle infrastructure on site so that all residents between 8 and 88 can ride there without fear. The petition lists for their referendum have already been distributed throughout the city. But they do not have to collect them anymore, because not two weeks later, the city council said in its session: We implement the demands.
"We have counted on a commitment, but the pace has surprised us very much," says the spokeswoman for the activists Marie Büchner. At the moment, more than 20 initiatives from Rostock to Munich call for better conditions for cyclists - and their number is rising steadily. However, with the approval of local politics, the work of the activists is far from over. On the contrary.
"At the beginning, we met every week with representatives from politics and administration," recalls David Grünewald of the wheel decision Darmstadt. The green-black coalition rejected the citizens' vote in the Hessian Unistadt in May 2018 for formal reasons. Nevertheless, they wanted to implement the goals. Within a few months, they negotiated 23 points with the activists for the cycling strategy.
"It took decades in Copenhagen and the Netherlands"
The target is high: By 2030, 30% of all routes in Darmstadt are to be covered by bicycle. At the moment there are 19%. For Grünewald, it is crucial that the necessary surfaces to increase cycling traffic be taken away from traffic. "That's how we set it," says Grünewald, "that's very progressive." So that the plans are set, the policy has increased the annual budget to four million euros, hired a bicycle planner and him to five employees to the side.
That is necessary too. "The urban cycle infrastructure is outdated," says Tobias Klein, traffic expert at the German Institute for Urban Studies. The wheel decisions showed that something urgently needed to happen, and with their actions they provided the necessary attention. However, he points out: "Even if the municipalities want to expand the cycling infrastructure, they need time and staff to implement the process - in Copenhagen and the Netherlands it has been decades."
Grünewald did not want to wait that long. To quickly improve conditions in his city, he negotiated a mix of short and long-term measures with his colleagues and the administration. "We started with initial negotiations without a ready strategy to implement initial ideas," he says. Within a very short time bollards were set up or relocated in Darmstadt. The result was noticeable: False parkers were banished from bicycle and footpaths and motorists from Schleichwegen. In addition, one-way streets were opened, bicycle rack set up and much more.
The tactic was well received: "The civilian goods are very much faster on the way than before," says Grünewald, "and they saw that something really happened." In April, the first named Protected Bike Lane was opened in Darmstadt - a wheel lane separated from the traffic by bollards. The city also publishes a status report with the implemented measures per quarter.