The General German Bicycle Club, ADFC for short, has been asking cyclists for years how satisfied they are with the "biking climate" in their home town. In the autumn of last year, more than 100,000 German participants gave their opinion in the current survey. In Düsseldorf, 1571 people were motivated enough to click through the list of questions about perceived safety, comfort and the existing infrastructure. Not that many, but we remember that the ADAC for the "Yellow Angel", after all, the car of the year, 2014 nationwide just 3409 votes were needed. But nobody admitted that voluntarily. So much for the overpowering car lobby.
After the modest performance in 2012, Düsseldorf once again received bad marks in the bicycle climate test when evaluating the survey data. To be honest, this is hardly surprising, since the city has been tinkering with its transport network on a large scale for years. The subway and car tunnel will soon be completed, and only then will cyclists realize whether there is a coherent overall concept for inner-city traffic. But I'm not sure if anyone saw the bicycle as an equal means of transport during the planning phase of this urban renewal. 34th place in the ranking of 39 cities with more than 200,000 inhabitants cannot be a claim for a city that values its quality of life. Let's quote an article from the RP of February 20, 2014: “In a study by the consulting company Mercer, Düsseldorf came fourth in Europe and sixth worldwide, and as in the previous editions of this city study, it ranks at the top. In Germany, only Munich achieves better values.” We assume that no one from the consulting firm Mercer has ever cycled around town. Otherwise the result would certainly have been different.
But we don't just want to nag, after all we live here voluntarily. Sometimes even gladly. It would also be unfair to blame current local politics for the omissions, perhaps even the ignorance, of their predecessors. But it's time to do something. Inner-city traffic needs to be reorganized. We can only increase our quality of life and our feel-good factor by redistributing spaces. No one becomes happier in the long term just because they can drive through the city quickly. And every motorist should be aware that one more cyclist or one fewer motorist is in line ahead of them. Düsseldorf is flat and compact, making it perfect for cycling. You “only” have to provide the infrastructure. But we're not talking about 300 meters of marked cycle paths in an industrial area to embellish the statistics. We're talking about a concept.
Jan Gehl, legendary and visionary urban planner, has just given brand eins an interview worth reading. A clever little quote: “More and wider streets inevitably lead to more car traffic in the city. Fewer streets and fewer parking spaces, on the other hand, create space for cyclists, pedestrians, cafés and squares, in short: life. You should take care of that.”
Carsten Wien, chic cap
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