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Mobility in Germany (MiD) 2017

Special Report: Analyses of cycling and walking

Analysen zum Radverkehr und Fußverkehr
Analysen zum Radverkehr und Fußverkehr © Mobilität in Deutschland (

How often and how long do citizens travel? Which means of transport do they use? For what purpose are they on the move? The study "Mobility in Germany (MiD) 2017" is one of the most comprehensive studies on everyday mobility worldwide and cover this and many other facets of mobility. More than 60 regional partners took part in the study conducted by the Federal Ministry of Transport and Digital Infrastructure in order to obtain information on everyday mobility on site as well as nationwide indicators. The 136-page results report was published at the end of December 2018. Chapter 11 has eight pages devoted to cycling.

In May 2019, a very comprehensive report was published which takes a closer look at the subject of cycling (on around 60 pages):

Further analyses on the development of bicycle traffic

Further analyses on the status quo and the development of cycling are the subject of the separate report "Analyses on cycling and walking", published in May 2019. The publication comprises 84 pages - 60 of which deal with all facets of cycling - and offers tables, diagrams and graphs in addition to the text.

The report shows that many Germans have had a mobility behaviour that has been practiced over the past decades and that differs from our neighbours, especially on short distances. While the Dutch choose bicycles, the Swiss like to walk. In Germany, the car is still far too often used for short trips.

Looking at the development of bicycle traffic in Germany, it can nevertheless be stated that the distances and kilometres travelled by bicycle have risen far more than proportionally. While the total traffic volume decreased by 5 percent between 2002 and 2017, the total traffic performance increased by 18 percent. In 2002, cycle traffic accounted for 25 million journeys per day, and by 2017 this figure had risen to 28 million journeys per day (plus 13 percent). In terms of traffic performance, there was even an increase of 37 percent, from 82 million passenger kilometres per day in 2002 to 112 million passenger kilometres per day in 2017.

The average distance travelled by bicycle in Germany rose by 20 percent between 2002 (3.2 km) and 2017 (3.8 km). However, it was found that in 2017 e-bike users covered an average of 6.1 km. The researchers therefore assume that a large proportion of car journeys can potentially be made by bicycle in the coming years. If one looks at the total daily kilometres of all the mobile Germans surveyed, it can be seen that only 1.6 of the 46 kilometres travelled per day were by bicycle. The average daily distance travelled by cyclists on the reporting day was 29 kilometres, of which 9.3 kilometres were by bicycle.

The researchers also determined the proportion of people who had used their bicycles on the reference date: 15 percent (2002 = 12 percent). Here, too, there were differences between urban and rural areas: in agglomerations, the proportion of cyclists was between 12 and 18 percent, in rural regions between 11 and 17 percent. The use of bicycles stagnated in the hilly to mountainous areas of Germany. In general, there was an increase in the modal share of bicycles used on all routes, which is attributable to the increasing number of cyclists. The number of cycling distances also increased. Most of the trips on weekdays are used for everyday traffic (around 70 percent), and a quarter of the trips on weekdays are used for leisure traffic (only a quarter), while on Sundays this figure is reversed as expected.

Germans own 0.93 bicycles per capita, more than ever before and thus more than any other means of transport. People over 65 years old in particular are catching up when it comes to owning bicycles (62 percent of households), and e-bikes naturally play a major role here.

The modal split share of bicycles by age group showed an average homogeneous picture of 10 to 11 percent; only the 10 to 19-year-olds had a higher share of 18 percent. The frequency with which young people use their bicycles shifted from rural to metropolitan areas. After obtaining a driving licence, especially in rural areas, the distance travelled by bicycle falls rapidly and only slowly increases again from the age of 40.

The researchers emphasise that, even if the proportion of bicycle compared to the proportion of car traffic is very low, bicycles make a significant contribution to environmental relief, especially in urban areas, and also have a positive effect on the health of those who cycle.

Cycling is popular with around 60 percent of those surveyed (14 years and older). 95 percent of people who cycle particularly frequently agree with the statement "I like cycling". City dwellers prefer cycling more than people living in rural areas. The school grade in the overall rating is 2.6, whereby the city dwellers are more demanding and naturally somewhat more dissatisfied with the situation. In cities with a very high proportion of bicycle traffic, people are subjectively more satisfied with the cycling infrastructure than in places with less bicycle traffic.

The study shows the potential for a modal shift toward cycling. In Germany, for example, 66 percent of the short trips are carried out by monomodal motorists, who are presumably very difficult convince on cycling. Furthermore, 43 percent of children under the age of 10 were driven to school by car, which means that they are already influenced by a mode of transport at an early stage, which is difficult to change again later.

Sources and many more detailed information can be found in the complete publication (only available in German):

Nobis, Claudia (2019): Mobilität in Deutschland - MiD Analysen zum Radverkehr und Fußverkehr.
Studie von infas, DLR, IVT und infas 360 im Auftrag des BMVI
FE-Nr. 70.905/15). Bonn, Berlin.