This morning I read a post on shareable.net about a new bicycle autobahn for bicycles in Germany (radschnellweg). Is this the future of our transport? As we can read, the idea was sparked six years ago when a cultural project caused the one-day closure of the road between Duisburg and Dortmund and more than three million people flooded the road on bikes, skates, and feet. Last December, Germany’s first stretch of bike highway opened for business between Mülheim an der Ruhr and Essen. Eventualy, the Radschnellweg will link 10 cities and four universities with 62 miles of bike highway.
The bikeways — and parallel pedestrian paths — are completely separated from the vehicle lanes, with a 13-foot width, tunnels, lights, and snow clearing because safety and accessibility issues are two of the biggest obstacles to biking. Coupled with Europe’s blossoming affection for electric bikes and Germany’s limited proximity between cities, the Radschnellweg stand to attract a new wave of pedal-powered commuters.
Why a bike autobahn?
According to the German national cycling club ADFC, Germany already has about 200 long-distance cycle routes tallying up more than 70,000 kilometers, in addition to smaller, regional bike paths within cities and on the countryside. But the RS1 bicycle highway would be different.
Like highways for cars, the bike autobahn is designed to have flat surfaces and straight distances without crossroads, together with illumination and winter-weather maintenance. The bike autobahn would allow fast and safe transport over long distances, also opening the doors to the use of electric bikes as a way to replace cars. In contrast with other bike roads, the RS1 is not planned only as a hobby route, but rather as daily route for workers and students.