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What are the lessons from the pandemic?

Local Authority Cycling Conference paves the way for bicycle infrastructure of the future

Foto: Fahrradweg
Foto: Fahrradweg © BUND Bremen

By invitation oft he Hanseatc City of Bremen and the German Institute of Urban Affairs (Difu) about 665 mobility professionals met on November 10, 2020 for the 14th Local Authority Cycling Conference. The conference took place digitally for the first time - and reached more cycling experts in the public administration than ever. The public livestream from 13:30 was recorded (in German):

Under the title "Cycling between impetus and competition on traffic space. What's left of the hype?" the question was whether the current mood of optimism in transport policy in German cities and municipalities will last. The focus was on the question of what lessons can be learned from the pandemic for the traffic of the future.

While some cities have created pop-up bike lanes overnight, other cities are launching innovative projects using the classic participation process. Host Dr. Maike Schaefer, Senator for Climate Protection, Environment, Mobility, Urban Development and Housing of the Free Hanseatic City of Bremen stated: "The pandemic has once again shown that 'bicycle cities' are simply more crisis-proof," referring to experiences from the petrol price crisis and the debate on diesel driving bans. In addition to finances, she sees another scarce resource for urban transport: road space. "We need a change of direction to give cycling and walking the space they need.“

Enak Ferlemann, Parliamentary State Secretary at the Federal Ministry of Transport and Digital Infrastructure welcomed the conference participants: "Cycling has increased during the corona pandemic and is becoming more and more important. We want to further strengthen cycling. The basis for this is a safe and sustainable cycling infrastructure."

Tilman Bracher, Head of the Mobility Research Department at the German Institute of Urban Affairs said: "The municipalities must now also create sufficient space for cycle lanes as well as safe crossings on main roads. It is important to provide the necessary human and financial resources so that the financial support from the federal government can be used."

The focus of the discussion forums this year was on the topics of municipal capacity to act, the design of cycle lanes and financing options. Keynotes were delivered by Ute Hammer, executive director of the German Road Safety Council with a systemic view of safety, and Benni Leemhuis from Groningen City Council on the transformation of his city from a radical idea to a blueprint for bicycle cities worldwide.

The Local Authority Cycling Conference, funded by the Federal Ministry of Transport and Digital Infrastructure (BMVI), is the most important cycling conference at the municipal level. The German Institute of Urban Affairs (Difu), the Free Hanseatic City of Bremen and the municipal head organizations are the organisers of the conference, which is hosted by the Cycling Academy at Difu and the Bremen Mobility Department. The expert excursions took place virtually this year - on site in Bremen they are to be held on 22 and 23 November 2021 as part of the 15th Local Authority Cycling Conference.

Lectures and documentations at (page and texts in German)