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Bicycle demonstration on Sunday in Berlin

Photo: Jochen Eckel / IMAGO

The German government is planning significantly lower expenditure in several transport areas – which is causing a great deal of criticism. The General German Bicycle Club (ADFC) was outraged, seeing the implementation of the National Cycling Plan in danger. The Federal Cabinet adopted a draft budget for 2024 on Wednesday.

The ADFC criticises the fact that only 400 million euros are available for the expansion of cycle paths – although the Conference of Transport Ministers of the Länder considers one billion euros a year in federal funds to be necessary. This means that the budget continues to fall: in 2022 it had been 750 million, but it was already cut to 2023 million for 560. In particular, the funds with which the federal government supports cycling in the states and municipalities have been almost halved within two years, according to the association.

"It is shameful that the federal government is shirking its responsibility," said ADFC national chairwoman Rebecca Peters. "There can be no talk of an expansion offensive for cycling, as decided by the traffic light coalition in March with its modernization package." Although Transport Minister Volker Wissing (FDP) calls for a "bicycle country" with continuous, safe cycle paths as a goal, the traffic light is "worse than the Grand Coalition" in the financing of cycling.

Federal Finance Minister Christian Lindner's proposal for the 2024 budget and the medium-term financial planning up to 2027 envisages some tough savings over the coming years. Only the defence budget is exempt from this. The consequences for family policy are controversial within the coalition.

Savings are also being made on the railways

For the rehabilitation of the ailing rail network, the funds are to increase, but not as much as the railway considers necessary. Deutsche Bahn has registered 45 billion euros as a requirement for this by 2027 – but despite additional revenue from the planned increase in truck tolls and a discussed withdrawal of money from the federal government's Climate and Transformation Fund, there would still be a financial gap of 18 billion euros.

Criticism of the plans also comes from the ADAC: "The transport budget in the infrastructure sector falls well short of what is necessary," says Transport President Gerhard Hillebrand. From the point of view of the ADAC, it is incomprehensible that investments in highways should stagnate and thus not even the construction price increases would be compensated, despite high additional revenues from the truck toll. In the case of rail, the increasing investments did not meet the identified demand. Hillebrand went on to say: "When it comes to cycling and walking as well as funds for aviation, the red pencil leaves its mark."