The most bicycle-friendly cities in Germany revealed

The most bicycle-friendly cities in Germany revealed

German cycling club ADFC has released its annual ranking of the most bicycle-friendly cities and towns in Germany. While Bremen took the top spot, other major German cities received somewhat unsatisfactory marks.  

ADFC Bicycle Climate Test 2018

Now in its 8th edition, the ADFC Bicycle Climate Test is the largest survey of its kind. In 2018, 170.000 participants took part via a questionnaire, assessing 682 cities and municipalities in Germany on their bicycle-friendliness. 74 percent of the respondents said that they cycle to school, work or university on a daily basis.

The questionnaire consisted of 32 questions to assess whether a place was good for cycling. Respondents were asked, for example, how often bike paths are cleared in winter, how often they experience obstructions and whether they feel safe cycling in traffic.

Bremen most cycle-friendly; other cities lagging

Recognising that smaller cities and towns with less traffic are guaranteed to score more highly, the ranking separates cities according to their population size. Within the “large cities” category (those with more than half a million inhabitants), the city-state Bremen came out on top, with an overall score of 3,55 (a lower figure indicates a better score). It also ranked number one for cycling for families.

Several major German cities - many of them popular expat destinations - received unsatisfactory scores. Cologne came bottom of the ranking with an overall score of 4,38. Munich, Hamburg, Düsseldorf and Stuttgart all ranked outside the top 5 and Berlin came in second from bottom. The capital was, however, named “Catch-Up of the Year” in recognition of the special efforts it has made to improve cycling infrastructure.

Major German cities ranked by bike-friendliness

The overall rankings for German cities with more than 500.000 inhabitants were as follows:

  • 1. Bremen
  • 2. Hanover
  • 3. Leipzig
  • 4. Frankfurt am Main
  • 5. Dresden
  • 6. Munich
  • 7. Nuremberg
  • 8. Hamburg
  • 9. Düsseldorf
  • 10. Stuttgart
  • 11. Essen
  • 12. Berlin
  • 13. Dortmund
  • 14. Cologne

“Alarming” trend in cycle-friendliness

ADFC notes that the resulting picture is “alarming”, with cyclists expressing that they feel less secure in traffic than they did a few years ago. The average score for bicycle-friendliness has also fallen, from 3,81 in 2016 to 3,93 in 2018, with cyclists reporting that they are not taken seriously as fellow road-users and that they are hampered by poor cycling infrastructure. In large cities especially, parents worry about letting their children cycle alone.

This is not good enough, the ADFC writes, and prevents many people from making the switch from driving or using public transport to cycling. To improve the picture, authorities need to invest in, among other things, wider cycle paths that are separated from traffic and convenient bike parking facilities. The cycling club argues, “More cycling is good for everyone: people, cities and the climate.”



Abi Carter

Abi studied History & German at the University of Manchester. She has since worked as a writer, editor and content marketeer, but still has a soft spot for museums, castles...

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