Amongst many things, Europe is known for some of the world’s most bicycle-friendly cities, offering safe and convenient travel routes for its two-wheeled commuters. Berlin, however, does not sit high on this list, but in an effort to address this, a new plan for a system of bicycle “superhighways” is undergoing implementation, incentivising cycling as an efficient means of transport.
Studies commissioned by Berlin’s Senate Department for the Environment, Transport, and Climate Protection looked into 30 possible bike paths, covering stretches of at least 5km. Of these, 12 have been selected as future superhighways, intended to be completely separated from other vehicles on the road.
Many of these routes will occupy vacant post-war railway corridors and superfluous areas of the city infrastructure, such as the corridor of the Postdamer Stambahn, which has already been evaluated and approved for future bicycle use. These links provide key connections between Berlin’s outskirts and the city center while offering green space as a result of their abandonment.
Specific criteria for the 13 highways include a minimum lane width of 4 meters (13 feet), and one-way routes of 3 meters. Intersections and traffic lights should also cause no more than 30 seconds of stopping time per kilometer, to prevent congestion and the build-up of commuters on the corridors.
The bike-friendly initiative is one of Berlin’s recent efforts to create a more inclusive and risk-free commuting environment, with a goal of increasing the number of bicycles on the roads to 2.4 million, by 2025.
Construction of two of these planned superhighways is set for the end of 2017, and feasibility studies of other main railway arteries should be completed by the end of March.