Oldenburg Tour Initial Thoughts

Heiligengeiststra├čeWe have just returned from Oldenburg, after a few days of cycling around. Oldenburg has grown rapidly in the last few decades, and has consistently invested in bicycle infrastructure of various kinds throughout the city. Approximately 42% of people cycle in the city, and only 9% walk. This is a higher proportion of people cycling and a lower proportion of people walking. They have similar car traffic levels, and lower bus usage. There are a number of quick points however that struck everybody on the tour:

  • They have priority over side roads along all main roads. This is done by keeping the level and surface materials for the cycleway and surrounding pavements consistent through the junction, and making the cars cross these just like they would when accessing a private driveway. The cars gave way to the bicycles consistently, and after some time you forgot that you were crossing side roads at all.
  • Large parking areas for bicycles were provided at every school, and in one school we visited over 90% of pupils cycled. The students said that this was because the bus was slow, "mummy-taxis" were unreliable, and bicycles were just considered better.
  • Older bicycle infrastructure was slowly being replaced by high quality provision in a program of continuous investment. This sometimes included replacing old block paving with modern concrete paving blocks (40cm x 40cm x 10cm), widening the cycle and pedestrian areas, and reducing the width of car lanes.
  • Traffic lights had separate bicycle crossing lights, allowing both more time for people to cycle across junctions safely, but also an excellent innovation of giving slightly more time for bicycles when there was a bicycle traffic jam.
  • A bicycle street that had recently been converted from a purely pedestrian street, with cycle parking on both sides of a 4 metre wide two way cycle space, and then wide frontages to shops and cafés. This looked to be a very successful transformation.
  • The main shopping area is completely pedestrianised, but people still wheeled their bicycles into them and parked up. Outside of shopping hours, you could ride through these old and very narrow streets.
  • The university had provided space for a "self-help bicycle repair shop" that provided bicycle mechanics to help show you how to repair your bicycle, and the tools required, but you still did your own repairs.
  • Some traffic lights at crossing work on demand, and have wireless remote controlled buttons that could be pressed by people walking or cycling to stop the traffic safely when needed.

There are plenty of other things to report on, and a full report will be included in the August-September newsletter.