|Cycling in Berlin. Look, no helmets, no hi-viz.|
That announcement was the publication by the local government in Berlin of its new Bicycle Strategy.
In Berlin, 13% of all local journeys are already made by bike (1.5million trips daily). The government wants that number to increase to 20% by 2025. In London only 2% of journeys are made by bike and Boris Johnson is aiming for a 5% target by 2020. It is extremely likely that we'll get to 5%, provided his plans for cycle highways with proper segregation and local Quietways.
The city is planning to have a 830km bike network in place by 2020 to include 12 radial routes and eight routes running into and out of the centre. London, by contrast, will have 12 super highways (running into the centre) and it's fairly unclear what we'll end up seeing in terms of radial routes.
|Low tech but highly functional. New Berlin bike tracks|
The support for e-bikes comes all the way from Federal government. The policy is a) to encourage more older and less mobile people to use e-bikes and to encourage more people to travel longer distances by bike so that they become less reliant on cars.
|Smiley TNT Post man delivering 'freight'|
in inner London. You see these bikes all over
central London now, replacing former white vans.
It's also interesting to see the Berlin authorities have a very different view of what their cycling revolution is about. Over 25% of car trips in Berlin are what the authorities call "free time" or "leisure" trips and the majority of those trips are relatively short. The next biggest trip generator is car trips to the shops. Berlin thinks the biggest potential wins for cycling are to get people out of their cars and on to bikes for leisure trips and for trips to the shops. So, it wants to build "bicycle-friendly shopping streets" with easy routes to town centres, good bike parking and bike servicing facilities, as well as bike trailers you can pick up in the shops to take your shopping home. Just compare that with the 1970s thinking displayed by Britain's Mary Portas and Local Government minister Eric Pickles who want to encourage more car trips to town centres - the very thing that will further kill off town centres.
Not everything in Berlin is rosy. The government realises it has a long way to go on cyclist safety on the roads. It also recognises that it hasn't hit its previous spending targets and needs to improve its investment plan. But the dialogue in Berlin is a whole different league to London. It's inclusive, it's about all sorts of people, all sorts of ages doing all sorts of things, just doing more of it on a bike and less in a car. Impressive stuff.
You can download the entire document (in German I'm afraid) or review some of the plans on the Berlin transport website.
Oh, and this is a bit sneaky.
But let's have a quick compare and contrast:
Can you spot the similarities and the glaring difference between these two:
Germany's Environment Minister Altmaier leaving his office on his bike
Picture courtesy zeit.de
Britain's Local Government Minister, Eric Pickles, the man who thinks "Not all of us can pedal up and down in rubber knickers you know". Picture courtesy BBC
Looks to me, Eric Pickles, like Herr Altmaier doesn't wear "rubber knickers". I suggest you change your vocabulary and your prejudices.