Flashback Friday: Münster – Germany does Cycling too

Earlier this week, I ran another Cycle Planning & Design industry course here in Christchurch. While increasingly it showcases some of the good practice cycling to be seen around NZ, we also include a few  nice examples from overseas where necessary. One such example shown was from the German city of Münster, which I was fortunate enough to visit 8 years ago and first blogged about back in June 2015. As a city of similar size to Christchurch, we can certainly learn  lot from it!

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!

Even Fido can come along too…

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.

On-road and off-road cycleway options

How is this achieved? Generally using lots of similar techniques to their Dutch neighbours, namely:

  • Separated bike facilities along busier streets
A space for everyone
  • Lower speed (30km/h) quiet streets elsewhere for easy riding
Slower environments – a bit bumpy here though…
  • A largely traffic-free central city
Quiet city corridors without the traffic
  • Controlled crossings of busy roads
Signals for crossing, but a free-turn if you’re going around the corner
  • Lots of bike parking (especially around the train station – over 3000 spaces there), although it still never seems to be enough
An on-street bicycle “corral” – can fit more bikes than cars in this space

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).

Riding along the Promenade; sheltered and pedestrian/traffic-free

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.

A “Fahrradstrasse” bicycle street – cars are guests

Here’s a few more miscellaneous pics:

Note the little eye-height bike signals (now in Chch!)
Simple posts create two culs de sac for cars, but a through-route for cycling
Technically this sign requires bikes to also obey the traffic signals at this T-junction but many were bypassing it
Good bike parking has fixing points for the whole frame
More stress-free central city cycling
A zebra crossing for pedestrians, but bikes crossing have to give way?
This is like something you’d expect to see in NZ…

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).

Nice facilities once you exit it, but not much fun riding around this roundabout

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.

Just some of the bikes at the train station – there’s a whole parking building on the other side of the tracks

What do you think of Münster?

1 thought on “Flashback Friday: Münster – Germany does Cycling too”

  1. Thank you for a relevant post on a city similar in size to Christchurch. To have a closer look I checked Google Maps which isn’t usually very good on street view in Germany. It turns out that in Munster most of the street view was taken by a cyclist riding the bike tracks – https://goo.gl/maps/MNzW9B4GXjzR2apB8.

    Anybody got a 360 camera and a lot of energy? Google makes it as easy as they can to publish your own street view – https://www.google.com/streetview/contribute/. The extra visual information online could encourage more cycling. Visual info on Google Maps certainly gets used a lot as I found out after uploading some fairly ordinary photos about 18 months ago which will pass a million views probably this week.

    I notice that the cycling info for Christchurch on Google Maps is now a lot more up to date than it was. Whether that’s anything to do with me contacting them after my last comment and your reply about a year ago or just a coincidence is anybody’s guess.

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