While I was in the Netherlands I was based very close to the border with Germany. So it was an easy train ride to hop over one day and visit the German city of Münster, just 60km away. Why Münster? Because it’s considered the bicycle capital of Germany!
Münster is only slightly smaller than Christchurch, at 300,000 inhabitants (50,000 of whom are tertiary students). However, its cycling population is far in excess of ours currently; more than a third of all trips are made by bike, indeed more than by private motor traffic it is claimed.
How is this achieved? Generally using lots of similar techniques to their Dutch neighbours, namely:
- Separated bike facilities along busier streets
- Lower speed (30km/h) quiet streets elsewhere for easy riding
- A largely traffic-free central city
- Controlled crossings of busy roads
- Lots of bike parking (especially around the train station – over 3000 spaces there), although it still never seems to be enough
Another nice feature of Münster is “the Promenade”, which is a green belt that encircles the central city (about 1km diameter) and provides useful connections to places like the train station, universities, and other cycleways radiating into the city. The Promenade corridor generally features separated pedestrian paths on both sides of the main cycleway, all sheltered by many trees (in fact in some locations they needed to keep the pathway lighting on, as it was rather dark).
Münster also have their own version of the Dutch “bicycle street”; in German it’s called a “Fahrradstrasse”. I came across one that seemed relatively low key; just a narrowed street layout with adjacent parking bays and trees. It probably worked OK because it was essentially a long cul de sac that connected to further bikeways.
Here’s a few more miscellaneous pics:
Like most places, Münster certainly isn’t perfect. The road crossings of The Promenade were generally not cycle priority, even when relatively quiet streets. There was a short section of cycle lane at one point that just spat you out into a pinchpoint. And immediately south of the central city is a rather horrible multi-lane roundabout where riders have to take the lane to make their way around (after seeing all the nice facilities, it was actually quite a shock to come across this).
Still, overall Münster is getting the numbers cycling and shows us that its not just Dutch and Danish cities that can come up with the goods.
What do you think of Münster?