Germany is among the countries that have developed a national strategy for the promotion of cycling. Already since 2002, when it presented the 2002-2012 National Cycling Plan (NCP), the Federal Government has been playing a key role as a facilitator, coordinator and catalyst in the promotion of cycling. The “2020 National Cycling Plan – Joining forces to evolve cycling” which entered into force in January 2013 follows on seamlessly from the first NCP and has further improved its quality.
The NCP is the strategic policy document of the Federal Government for cycling. It sets out the guiding policy principles for the promotion of cycling in the years ahead – focusing on new transport policy challenges such as the promotion of cycling in rural areas as a means of transport on an equal footing with others, capacity problems in towns and cities or increasing electric mobility in the field of cycling.
The objectives of the NCP are to make cycling more attractive and safer and to boost “ecomobility”, which comprises local public transport, walking and cycling. The NCP uses nine action areas (planning and developing a cycling strategy; infrastructure; road safety; communications; cycle tourism; electric mobility; linkage with other means of transport; mobility and road safety education; creating and safeguarding qualities) to identify the major actions required for evolving cycling and describes/recommends the specific steps that have to be taken by the Federal Government, federal states and local authorities, each within their own sphere of responsibility.
Priorities of the National Cycling Plan
The objectives of the NCP are to make cycling more attractive and safer and to boost “ecomobility”, which comprises local public transport, walking and cycling.
The NCP’s main priorities are as follows:
- Cycling is high on the agenda of the Federal Government: The Federal Government attaches great importance to promoting cycling as part of a modern transport system in urban and rural areas and has adopted the National Cycling Plan for this purpose.
- Continuity in the Federal Government’s promotion of cycling: The Federal Government will continue to champion cycling within its fields of responsibility. This includes the creation of infrastructure (e.g. the construction of cycle tracks along federal highways), the evolution of the regulatory framework (e.g. the German Road Traffic Regulations) and the provision of support to non-investment pilot projects and measures (setting an example of good practice).
- Cycling as a component of an integrated transport and mobility policy: The NCP will boost the role played by cycling as part of an integrated transport and mobility policy. This also includes the linkage with important societal objectives, for instance in the fields of climate change mitigation, environmental protection, urban development and health promotion.
- Widening the impact of cycling promotion: The NCP addresses different starting situations in the municipalities to a greater degree than in the past. A more nuanced approach to these situations is to be adopted in the future.
- Focusing on cycling in rural areas: In towns and cities, cycling is currently developing at a very dynamic pace. To boost cycling in rural areas as well, the NCP devotes particular attention to this.
- Emphasizing road safety aspects: Road safety plays a major role in the NCP. Along the lines of the 2011 Road Safety Programme, it lists Federal Government activities (e.g. safety campaign, encouraging the wearing of cycle helmets) and gives recommendations for the federal states and local authorities.
- Including electric mobility/pedelecs: The market for pedelecs exhibits especially great momentum. The NCP will continue to support the development of this economic factor, which is by no means insignificant for German SMEs. The increasing popularity of pedelecs will also have an impact on infrastructure and road safety.
NCP pilot projects
The NCP forms the framework for the use of the federal funds totalling 3.2 million euros which are provided to implement the NCP. These funds are designed to support non-investment projects which are highly innovative and transferable to other towns, cities and regions (see: National Cycling Plan - Financial Assistance Programme).
Origin of the National Cycling Plan
The NCP was developed on the basis of a broad and transparent participatory process. From the beginning, a wide range of stakeholders from the federal states, local authorities and associations as well as from academia were involved. The recommendations presented in September 2011 by the expert body set up for this purpose had a crucial influence on the evolution of the NCP. In addition, suggestions gathered at the 2nd National Cycling Congress (Nuremberg in May 2011), two forums for decision-makers and associations (April and September 2011) and the Local Authority Cycling Conference (November 2011) informed the drawing up of the new NCP. The Cycling Working Party of the Federal Government and the federal states, too, has addressed in great detail the future requirements to be met in the promotion of cycling.
This very broad and comprehensive participatory process created a good basis for an effective implementation of the NCP by all stakeholders together. Because we can only meet the challenges in the promotion of cycling if we work together.
The NCP entered into force on 1 January 2013 and follows on seamlessly from the previous 2002-2012 National Cycling Plan.