Temporary pop-up cycle path (in Berlin): Not all major German cities are convinced
Photo: Sabine Brose / Frank Sorge / imago images
A few warning beacons and yellow paint - the pop-up cycle path is ready.
With this unbureaucratic method, the Berlin district of Friedrichshain-Kreuzberg responded to the corona pandemic early on.
Cyclists are better able to keep their distance and are also traveling safely in increasing numbers, according to the calculation.
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The makeshift arrangements have been copied around the world, and other German cities have also set up such extra tracks.
In spring, when people get on their bikes en masse, more are added in some places.
The construction of cycle paths is not something that can be taken for granted, however, and resistance is rising in some cases.
The extra tracks are now also returning in Munich.
The city council decided against the votes of the CSU, AfD and FDP.
On Rosenheimer Straße, Elisenstraße, Theresienstraße and Gabelsbergerstraße there will be pop-up cycle paths again from April, this time with white instead of yellow markings.
At the second attempt, the traces came to remain in the coming winter.
Later they are to be structurally separated from the car lanes.
How exactly will be decided in the course of the year.
Dispute with Bavaria's Ministry of Transport
In total, it is only about 2.4 kilometers of cycle lanes - which, however, caused a dispute.
Bavaria's Transport Minister Kerstin Schreyer (CSU) criticized the state capital's decision as unbalanced and unsustainable.
Different road users should not be played off against each other.
"Especially in a city with a heavy traffic load like Munich, sustainable traffic concepts are needed and not measures based on the Saint Florians principle," said Schreyer through her press office.
more on the subject
Defeat for the Greens: Munich is dismantling pop-up cycle paths
The interference from the state government in view of a few kilometers of bike path met with amazement in the town hall.
"If the Minister of Transport sends a message for every new cycle path in the future, she should consider adding staff to her press office," said Munich's Second Mayoress Katrin Habenschaden (Greens).
The cycling infrastructure in Munich will be greatly expanded over the next few years.
"That is what the people of Munich want, even if that doesn't fit into the CSU's auto-centered worldview," said Habenschaden.
Berlin became a trendsetter
With the beginning of spring and the third wave of the corona pandemic, the pop-up bike paths seem to be coming at the right time.
The number of people who got on their bikes increased significantly in 2020.
A year ago, during the first wave of the corona pandemic, the bicycle temporarily replaced the car as the most important means of transport.In Berlin, the number of cyclists rose by 23 percent in the summer of 2020 compared to the previous year.
The decision of the Munich City Council also reflects the international zeitgeist.
According to the Guardian, Lisbon is planning to expand its cycle path network from 105 to 200 kilometers this year - also with the help of pop-up cycle paths.
Berlin now has around 27 kilometers of temporary cycle lanes.
They were created on tracks that were otherwise used for motor vehicle traffic or as parking space.
The temporary installation is only considered a first step there.
In future, there should be a safe cycling infrastructure on all of Berlin's main roads.
Pop-up cycle paths do not convince all major German cities
In addition to Berlin and Munich, Hamburg also relies on the temporary cycle lanes.
The Hanseatic city has set up two such routes as part of traffic tests, on Max-Brauer-Allee and on Am Schlump street.
A third is to follow shortly in HafenCity.
They are initially limited to one year and are then to be evaluated and consolidated.
There were initially two pop-up cycle paths on Theodor ‐ Heuss ‐ Straße and Holzgartenstraße.
The former has now been dismantled, but is to return as a structurally separate cycle path.
But such temporary arrangements are not always well received.
Dresden spoke out against it, and Frankfurt am Main and Cologne have not set up any temporary cycle lanes either.
Some administrations fear that good planning will fall by the wayside if everything has to go very quickly.
Bremen is planning long-term protected cycle lanes, but has not yet relied on the short-term pop-up variant.
A spokesman for the administration said it will be checked whether this spring there will be any extra traces.
However, Bremen already has a well-developed bicycle infrastructure in a different way - the city was the winner of the ADFC bicycle climate test in the major cities category in 2018 and 2020.
Set up quickly and inexpensively
"So far, pop-up cycle paths have been limited to a few hotspots, especially Berlin and Munich," says Kerstin Stark, mobility researcher at the German Aerospace Center (DLR).
Only there a considerable number of kilometers had been implemented.
The DLR expert explains that they have a great advantage here.
You can bring something new to the road with little effort, identify problems, and finally optimize and stabilize the cycle paths.
"Pop-up cycle paths", predicts Stark, "will therefore continue to play a role after the pandemic."
The paths are also inexpensive to set up.
According to the Berlin district of Friedrichshain-Kreuzberg, planning, implementation and maintenance cost around 20,000 euros per kilometer.
In the case of fixed cycle paths, 40,000 euros should be calculated for the planning and six-figure sums per kilometer for the construction.
Problems at complex intersections
However, pop-up cycle paths are by no means a kind of panacea, says DLR expert Stark.
"Temporary infrastructures may not be suitable for all traffic situations, for example not for complex intersections." In addition, it must always be ensured that there are no dangers or traffic obstructions due to the provisional routes.
The pop-up cycle path in Stuttgart's Theodor-Heuss-Straße was not set up permanently because it had disadvantages for local traffic and the green phases for pedestrians were shortened.
In Berlin, however, the positive effects on cycling outweighed the trend.
The official data on the use of the paths is still insufficient, the researcher complains.
According to data from the tracking provider Strava, "an increase of up to 200 percent can be registered on the routes with pop-up cycle paths".
The pop-up cycle paths are apparently suitable for keeping the numerous pandemic switchers on their bikes.
"People, whether young or old, experienced or occasional cyclists, get on bicycles when there are cycle paths that are completely separate from car traffic," says Stark.
If you want to prevent people dropping out of public transport from switching to their cars, you have to create safe bike paths.
And as quickly as possible.