Cycling in Munich

This article was published in 2006, in Newsletter 65.

In Newsletter 63, Simon Nuttall profiled his experiences in Lyon. This time, Martin Lucas-Smith reports some findings from a visit to Munich.

During the summer, I visited Munich while on tour in Germany with some friends. I took the opportunity to note some of the ways that cycling is facilitated. The Continent offers us Englanders many examples of sane provision as well as much in the way of forward-looking ideas.

Where cycle tracks are provided alongside roads, cyclists are supposed to use these rather than staying on the road.
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Crossings at side roads were pretty direct, and motorists waited while cycles crossed, rather than assuming priority.
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Much provision was off-road, a state of affairs we wouldn’t necessarily advocate. However, where it existed, such provision was done in a sensible fashion that avoided many of the problems which exist with typical Cambridge off-road provision. Routes and crossings were direct, priority was not lost at side roads, and at junctions cyclists could be seen by other drivers.

There were also interesting innovations, such as the Call a Bike scheme.

Crucially, at larger junctions, the height of a cycle track merged to the level of the road, so that cycle track crossings were direct and practically on-road.
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The call a bike scheme’s bikes seemed well maintained and were located around the city.
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Off-road provision

Munich has streets wide enough to ensure that cycle tracks were of suitable width and pedestrians seemed entirely untroubled by the presence of cyclists.

Where cycle tracks are provided alongside roads, cyclists are supposed to use these rather than staying on the road. I saw little evidence, however, that cyclists found this a problem, as off-road facilities were well-constructed.

Call a Bike –

The city has a call a bike scheme, where calling the number unlocks the bike and the cost (5 Cents per minute) is charged to an account you have set up.

Munich has its own trishaw scheme, but I didn’t sense that this is as popular as the London scheme has become in recent years.
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In Munich’s cycling museum.
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Cycle parking

Munich is perhaps not the best location for secure cycle parking, with wheel-bending butterfly-stands everywhere. That said, theft in Munich is generally very low so there is probably not the same demand as there is in Cambridge to increase its quality.

Later in the tour we visited Hildesheim, and I came across an excellent example of how ‘no entry except cyclists’ is done abroad. Simple, cheap, effective. why can’t it be done here?
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Martin Lucas-Smith, Co-ordinator