The Free Hanseatic city in the Northwest of Germany? The uncrowned Queen of German Cycling Cities? Maybe you remember Bremen from our film “Beauty and the Bike”? Ever heard about Bremen as the secret Cycling Capital of Germany, even one of the best in Europe? Of all German cities with more than 500.000 inhabitants Bremen leads the list of Cycling Cities.
Did you know, that the first German kerb-protected cycleway was built in Bremen in 1897? That here the Cycle Street was first introduced in 1978? That in Bremen the first one-way-roads were opened for contraflow cycling – long before it was legally possible?
Bremen has a network of more than 700 km of cycle paths, the most cleverly designed and comprehensive network of cycling infrastructure in Germany. Moreover in 1979 the biggest cycling advocacy group worldwide – the ADFC – was founded in Bremen, and even the first Velo-City-Conference took place in Bremen in 1980.
For 25 years the modal share of cycling, the number of trips taken on a cycle compared to the other means of transport, has been higher than 20%, 22% at the beginning of the 90s, and in 2013 it reached 24.8%. Even cycling-ambitious cities like Berlin, Hamburg or Munich cannot compete with Bremen.
But there is a sting in this tale: Bremen has not progressed with its bicycle modal share for 25 years.
What is wrong? What is missing? The aims, the strategy or maybe the courage to take the bicycle more seriously than the car? Is the political will missing, the will to change traffic policy more deeply, to achieve a transport turnaround? Do Bremen politicians take their climate change targets seriously? Is the lobby of the Chamber of Commerce and the car industry too powerful? Did the Bremen ADFC make any mistakes? Perhaps local politicians do not appreciate enough the treasure they hold in their hands, and the potential for more cycling this offers? And, by the way, does anybody know why Bremen citizens love to cycle so much?
A lot of questions, few answers. That is why we are launching Bremenize – to better understand the city’s cycling history; to look behind the marketing, the public debates, of local cycling policy-makers; to challenge the targets that Bremen has set itself for the future of its transport policy.
Finally, by posting in both English and German, Bremenize want to connect this local debate about climate change, sustainable transport and cities fit for people with the global one that is so eloquently explored in sites like Copenhagenize, Amsterdamize and Portlandize.