Berlin and other cities responded to the increase in bicycle traffic at the beginning of the Covid-19 pandemic by establishing pop-up bike lanes. Researchers at IKEM investigated the drivers and barriers for the establishment and consolidation of pop-up bike lanes as well as their legal basis, using Berlin as a case study. The poster, which has now been published, illustrates the design options in urban mobility available to municipalities, which are, however, limited by federal road traffic law.
‘Inert administrative structures as well as outdated ideas about transport planning have prevented the rapid expansion of bicycle infrastructure up to now, in addition to a lack of human and financial resources. However, the pandemic has created a window of opportunity for bicycle projects. The personal commitment and cooperation of the municipal decision-makers was crucial for the successful implementation of the pop-up bike lanes,’ explained Katharina Csillak, Senior Research Associate at the IKEM Mobility Department.
Since the initial installation of the pop-up bike lanes, a three-stage consolidation process has proven successful in Berlin. It consists of a temporary installation of the bike lanes, an accompanying evaluation, and a permanent structural implementation, for example with bollards. The process is considered a possible standard procedure for future projects and should help other cities to implement (pop-up) bike lanes.
‘Cycling is a key to healthy and climate-friendly mobility in cities. The implementation of pop-up bike lanes in Berlin has proven that more and better bike lanes motivate more people to cycle,’ said Simon Kaser, research associate at IKEM. ‘However, since the relevant legal bases – the Road Traffic Act and the Road Traffic Regulation – are federal law, federal states and municipalities are only allowed to initiate bike lanes where road safety and traffic flow are at risk. The pop-up bike lanes are a good example of how municipalities can still be proactive within the existing legal framework.’
Friederike Pfeifer, Head of the Mobility Department, sees the federal government as having a duty: ‘Although the establishment of the pop-up bike lanes has shown that municipalities can use their room for initiative wisely within the existing legal framework, a clear political positioning from the federal government is needed in the future. The integration of health, climate and environmental protection goals within urban planning, anchored in the Road Traffic Act and Road Traffic Regulation, would be a start. From the coalition agreement, these adjustments must now find their way into implementation. It is the only way to achieve a paradigm shift from a car-oriented to a locally designed, sustainable, and climate-friendly transport planning system in the long run’.