First German “Velobahn” Opens in Ruhr Region.
An idea that’s already taken root in the Netherlands and Denmark has spread to Germany’s industrial heartland.
According to an AFP report, officials in Germany’s Ruhr Valley opened at the end of 2015 the first 5 km (3.1 miles) of a planned 100-km (62-mile) bicycle superhighway connecting 10 cities and four universities in the struggling industrial region.
The new bike highway, which utilizes abandoned railroad rights-of-way, differs from existing bike paths in that it is wide enough to allow bikes to travel at faster speeds in both directions. The new bike highway also features overtaking lanes and grade-separated crossings of most other roads. It is also lit and plowed of snow in the winter.
Unlike highways, railroads and water transport facilities, however, the German federal government is not picking up any part of the tab for this bikeway. Instead, the European Union picked up half of its cost, the North Rhine-Westphalia state government 30 percent and the Ruhr regional transportation authority the remaining 20 percent.
The price tag for the full 100 km will be €180 million ($196 million U.S.) The North Rhine-Westphalia state government is searching for sources of funding and drafting legislation that would relieve its cities of any responsibility for its cost. The German Bicycle Club (AFDC) argues that the federal government should cover 10 percent of the cost of projects like this one since trips by bicycle now account for 10 percent of all travel in Germany.