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Promotion of cycling

Pedestrian crossing with traffic lights for cyclists
© Deutscher Verkehrssicherheitsrat e. V., Bonn

Division of tasks between the Federal Government, the federal states, the local authorities and further players in the promotion of cycling

As part of the division of tasks in Germany as a federal country, the promotion of cycling is a communal task involving the Federal Government, the federal states and local authorities. In addition, there are numerous other players such as companies, associations, health insurance funds, media and committed citizens who are making an important contribution to boosting cycling in Germany.

The Federal Government’s task is to create the regulatory framework for the evolution of cycling. It thus promotes cycling in its capacity as the lawmaker. With the NCP, the Federal Government has taken over an active role as a facilitator, coordinator and catalyst in order to promote cycling nationwide. It is, for example, providing funding for the implementation of innovative (non-investment) pilot projects in the action areas of the NCP and their causal connections. It is further committed to creating a safe, demand-responsive and convenient cycling infrastructure by constructing cycle tracks along federal highways and is responsible for upgrading tow paths along federal waterways for use by cyclists.

As a result of Germany’s federal system and the principle of subsidiarity, it is the federal states and local authorities who have prime responsibility for individual measures to promote cycling in local communities, in particular for the construction of cycle tracks.

Measures of the Federal Government to fund and promote cycling

In 2016, the Federal Ministry of Transport and Digital Infrastructure is providing more than 100 million euros to promote cycling. The budget of the Federal Ministry of Transport and Digital Infrastructure contains 98 million euros for the construction of cycle tracks along federal highways and 1.3 million euros for the upgrading of towpaths along federal waterways for cycling. There is also an additional 3.2 million euros to fund pilot projects for implementing the NCP as well as 2 million euros to implement the “German Unity Cycle Route” project.

Since 2007, the Federal Government, in accordance with the Unbundling Act, also has been providing the federal states with annual amounts from the Federal Budget which are intended, among other things, to improve transport at the local authority level. These “compensation funds” amount to approximately 1.336 billion euros per annum. As part of the first reform of Germany’s federal system, they serve to fund investment into local public transport and local road construction but may also, in accordance with the law of the federal state concerned, be used for cycling infrastructure.

Beyond the funding of cycling infrastructure and the provision of financial assistance to pilot projects, the Federal Ministry of Transport and Digital Infrastructure performs an important function in evolving the regulatory framework (e.g. German Road Traffic Regulations, Road Traffic Registration Regulations).

Upgrading of towpaths along federal waterways for cycling

The Federal Ministry of Transport and Digital Infrastructure has reorganized the rules on the upgrading of towpaths along federal waterways for cycling use and tasked the Federal Waterways and Shipping Agency with establishing a new application and implementation procedure. The previous decree of 16 October 2006 was repealed. The following budget memo contained in Chapter 1203, Item 780 12 of the 2015 Federal Budget constitutes the basis for the reorganization:

“Provided that the local authorities and local authority associations bear half of the costs and take over the responsibility for ensuring public safety, the funds may also be used to upgrade towpaths along federal waterways for cycling. Upon application, funds provided under this item amounting to 50 % of the costs for the development of cycle tracks (costs in excess of the costs for the upgrading of the towpaths) may be used on a one-time basis for this purpose.”

Towns and cities who would like to apply for funding on the basis of the budget memo above are requested to contact the Federal Waterways and Shipping Agency, Robert-Schuman-Platz 1 in 53175 Bonn. The contact person at the Federal Waterways and Shipping Agency is Mr Gerd Franke (email:  gerd.franke@wsv.bund.de, phone: 0251-2708440).