certain topics – climate change, equality, racism, etc. – are stirring up emotions and causing outrage in the media. Nothing, however, makes people snap faster than the bike-car debate. Reason enough for facts.
"One in seven people who died in road traffic in 2019 was on a bicycle", writes the Federal Statistical Office. The many cyclists killed in traffic are a development against the trend. On the one hand, there are fewer and fewer traffic fatalities on Germany’s roads, but more and more of them are on bikes.
People over 65 and children particularly affected. In 2010, there were 381 fatalities; in 2019, there were already 445. As early as 2012, Wolfgang Albers, Cologne’s police chief, noted in an analysis of accident figures: "Increasingly, people are no longer dying in their cars, but in front of them." Until today nothing has changed.
Articles dealing with the safety of cyclists offer the same arguments in the comment columns, which are so tiresome, notorious and simple-minded, that I have decided to go through them and judge them according to the facts.
In advance. I have a driver’s license and a family that is passionate about driving a car. However, I myself prefer to ride my bike. It is faster, more environmentally friendly, more interesting, more elegant, more social, healthier and also much more practical. And, no, I have never needed a car and I don’t miss it either.
Beyond my personal judgment, of course, there are plenty of studies and data that show that many of the arguments made by proponents of automotive mobility are simply not true. I know how difficult it is to admit that you are wrong. Nevertheless: Insight is the best way to get better. The following eleven arguments should help clear up misunderstandings and start the debate where it becomes exciting and good solutions become possible for everyone.
1. Cyclists do not obey the rules
"They should first learn the traffic rules", "They always run red lights", "Cyclists behave inconsiderately" – these are common sayings that you can hear. And in the feuilleton one gets to read: "Many cyclists feel also morally superior. They contribute to the environment, foregoing the luxury of a car in return, they brave rain and snow. And because they do, they believe they are allowed to disobey rules in return."
True that? Are cyclists inconsiderate and do not behave according to the rules?. Cyclists break the rules more often? There are few surveys. They take a closer look at red light violations.
In 2017, the Hamburg police had 148 officers patrolling intersections in the city from six a.m. to 10 p.m. They counted 226 drivers who ran red lights and 22 cyclists who did the same.
In a British study, six out of ten cyclists said they sometimes run red lights. In Germany it is similar. When you are on your bike, you look carefully to the right and left to see if you can cross safely. Cyclists usually only endanger themselves, in contrast to car drivers, who primarily endanger other road users when they run red lights.
In addition, cyclists are much more endangered when they ride on the green light. Sounds paradoxical, but it’s easy to explain. Consequential turning accidents are to blame. Most accidents are caused by car drivers (75 percent) or truck drivers (80 percent).
Yes, cyclists break rules, rules that were mainly made for car drivers. What about the rules for car drivers?? Speeding is considered a trivial offense. Three quarters of all drivers drive faster than the speed limit. You have to "stay in the flow.
The traffic light is dark yellow? Step on the gas! Blinking? The car does not do it on its own? Honk when you’re annoyed? Of course! A parking and stopping ban on sidewalks and bike paths? Oh, very briefly only and warning lights on, then that’s okay, isn’t it?? Smartphone at the wheel? It’s not distracting, it’s standard for a quarter of all drivers. Ignore stop sign, crosswalk? Can happen.
Two wrongs don’t make a right. The fact that drivers disregard rules does not make it okay for cyclists, but it is a fact that traffic rules are the most ignored rules. Car drivers:inside break it day after day with a nonchalance that makes astonishment.
2. Roads are made for cars
Is it true that roads are made for cars?? Roads have been around for thousands of years, used by foot, carts, carriages, horses, buses, bikes and cars. Only in the last seven or eight decades was it decided to give priority to cars. Roads do not control us, we control them. We are the ones who plan and build them. We decide how and in what way we want to use it. We make them safe and comfortable.
"Adolf Hitler all alone/ Built the autobahn. / No one carried him a stone / No one touched mortar." says Kurt Bartsch’s poem Adolf Hitler all alone.
It was the Nazis who put their faith in the car and built autobahns. They set the great example for the U.S., which began building its interstate highway system after World War II. The centering on the car created a design all of its own and encouraged urban sprawl and land grabbing.
The space transformed by the car changed completely. Middle-class families moved out of the city to the suburbs to make their dream of home ownership a reality.
For millennia, roads served different purposes. From then on, there was only the LoS principle – Level of Service, which followed the question: How well does the road work for cars? In Germany, the LoS principle was adopted and became part of the "Handbuch fur die Bemessung von Strabenverkehrsanlagen (HBS)" (Manual for the Design of Road Traffic Facilities). There, the quality levels of roads are defined from quality level A (good traffic quality) to level F (poor traffic quality).
It no longer mattered how safe a street was for pedestrians and cyclists or how well it was suited for public transport; only the car mattered. The unit of measurement that applied from then on was: how many cars can pass through an intersection in a certain period of time?
Anything that stops the flow of cars is bad. Roads are widened, right turns are created at the expense of sidewalks. Everything that inhibits – crossings, traffic lights u.a. – is eliminated as far as possible.
The problem is: the better the car infrastructure, the more comfortable the driving, the more car traffic. In 1955, the car density in North Rhine-Westphalia was 31 cars per thousand inhabitants. In 2019, there were already 563 cars per thousand inhabitants.
In the meantime, many planners are rethinking the way they evaluate roads. Standard, however, is still the manual already cited, according to which roads continue to be expanded.
In addition, our entire perception has been so regressed by the centering on the car that it is difficult for many to even imagine anything other than the brutal actual condition. Most people do not even manage to perceive the disadvantage of pedestrians, cyclists and people who use public transport, let alone imagine otherwise.
3. There is not enough space for bike lanes without causing traffic jams
In Germany, driving a car is relatively cheap and convenient. Diesel still costs much less than regular gasoline. The road system is well developed and designed for speed. No wonder many people are afraid to change this system.
Especially since it seems logical that when a lane is taken away from car traffic, the capacity of the road suffers and congestion occurs. But when it comes to traffic, engineering works in a different way than we think, namely counter-intuitively.
You can take a lane away from cars without a significant reduction in speed for motorists. Scientific studies show that if instead of a car lane, a protected bike lane, a so-called protected bike lane, The traffic flow in the city is improved, the safety for all road users is increased, the stores along the road profit and even the car traffic runs better.
The greater the bike mode share, the greater the travel time gains for other modes, including car traffic.
A well-designed cycling infrastructure improves the overall spatial structure. And there is another positive aspect to consider. A bike lane takes to give. It gives people the opportunity to move differently. A city always offers only very limited space. Bicycles and public transport move people much more space-saving and space-efficient than cars.
If people move in a resource-intensive, environmentally harmful and inefficient way with two to three tons of sheet metal, this is not an option that we can maintain with more roads and parking spaces. space is limited, car traffic is not infinitely scalable.
At the beginning of the Corona pandemic, you got a sense of how good less car traffic and senseless driving around would do us all. It was pleasantly quiet, the air was clean, and it was safe to get around by bike. We have to see that we can manage without a pandemic.
4. Cyclists are dangerous
Cyclists are dangerous? Shouldn’t it rather be said that they live dangerously?? The fact is: In Germany, at least one cyclist dies every day. One in seven traffic fatalities was by bicycle. Cyclists covered around three percent of passenger kilometers across Germany (MiD 2017), but account for fifteen percent of traffic fatalities (destatis 2020).
This means that the risk of being killed in road traffic is five times higher for cyclists than for the average of all road users.
It happens that cyclists and pedestrians collide, injure or even kill them. Can we therefore say that cyclists are reckless and dangerous, because they do not care about their own safety or that of others?? Of course, cyclists are responsible for themselves and others. Points 1 and 2 of the Road Traffic Regulations (StVO) apply to them. It states:
(1) Participation in road traffic requires constant caution and mutual consideration. (2) Who participates in traffic has to behave in such a way that no other person is harmed, endangered or hindered or inconvenienced more than unavoidable under the circumstances.
But the StVO also applies to car drivers. If you are riding a huge, heavy, powerful, fast and potentially deadly machine that can cause a lot of damage, you should always keep in mind that great power comes with great responsibility.
In a global comparison, Germany does not fare badly in terms of road safety. In the 1970s, more than 20 people died in traffic accidents.000 people, the number of fatalities has fallen steadily since then and has hovered between 4 and 10 percent in the last ten years.000 and 3.200 deaths a.
5. Cyclists have only themselves to blame
Accidents rarely happen by chance, but are the result of a series of unfavorable conditions and behaviors. Media and police, however, often report one-sidedly and in favor of motorists:inside. This linguistic framing influences opinion enormously.
Those who are walking and cycling are usually blamed. The so-called victim blaming Reverses the perpetrator-victim relationship. The victim is blamed for the crime. This affects phrases like "suddenly stepped/rode out from between cars", "was in the blind spot", "disregarded the traffic light" etc.
There are also hardly any perpetrators, because drivers rarely appear as people: "An Audi hit the child in the crosswalk", "The Mercedes overlooked the cyclist when turning left", "The truck turned right and ran over the cyclist" etc. The press usually takes over the police reports one-to-one and thus contributes to victim blaming.
Our roads are far more deadly than they need to be. In order to reduce the daily carnage, a consistent reconstruction of the road space would be necessary, which slows down the speed of the cars.
A study by the University of Dusseldorf shows the fatal effect of the impact in a pedestrian-car accident; the results can be applied to cyclists. At 30 mph, the probability of survival is relatively high. Here, every third person dies; at 40 km/h, every second person dies; at 50 km/h, eight out of ten people pay for a collision with their lives. Speed 60 brings death, chance of survival: zero.
The introduction of 30 km/h speed limits in towns and villages would not only massively reduce the number of fatalities and traffic accidents, but would also contribute to an improvement of the environment, as dirt and noise would be reduced at the same time. Certainly, accidents would continue to occur, but they would be fewer overall and, above all, less fatal. There is no reason not to do it.
6. Cyclists:inside want everyone to stop driving cars
The CDU member of the Bundestag, Christoph Plob, complained that people are being discouraged from driving. In Dusseldorf, car drivers are "made to despair in order to force them to cycle". In general the "Radnazis" want, make people dislike driving.
Cyclists:inside supposedly want everyone else to use bikes too. If that were the case, why do more than half of the people in metropolitan areas and more than three quarters in rural areas use their cars to commute?? They leave their house, their apartment and get into the car as a matter of course.
Up to three tons of steel, which on average carry one and a half people, or. Transporting around 100 kilograms of live weight through the area. This is standard! Our society is so car-centric that this form of transportation is not seriously questioned at all.
Cars are perceived as great. They are convenient and they get people where they want to go quickly. But cars are also noisy, polluting, resource-consuming, space-consuming and deadly. Cars are not inclusive. Cars exclude. They leave out children, the poor, the elderly.
In Germany, mobility is equated with the car. The car is the standard. Exactly this dogma is questioned by many cyclists. The fact is that almost half of all trips made by car are less than five kilometers; every tenth car trip is even shorter than one kilometer (cf. infas 2008).
These figures make it clear that noticeable portions of automobile traffic could easily be replaced by bicycle and pedestrian traffic. The more people who cycle and walk, the better for drivers who are really dependent on cars.
Of course, cycle paths must not continue to end in nirvana. It can happen to cyclists that they suddenly end up on an expressway. It is as if motorists were being diverted from the road directly onto the railways, where an ICE train is coming from behind.
Therefore, a good network, preferably of separated and protected bike lanes, as they exist in the Netherlands and also Denmark, is essential, so that one can travel more comfortably and safely by bike. Who knows, maybe one or the other car driver would then even "force" himself see to switch to bicycles.
7. Drivers pay for the road, so they should have priority
Vehicle taxes do not even come close to covering the cost of maintaining roads and highways, let alone building new ones. There is no connection between car taxes and certain public functions – taxes generated by motorists are not necessarily used for road construction or other car-related areas. The so-called total coverage principle applies to tax expenditures.
Everyone, including all non-motorists, pays for roads and highways. It is even a disproportionately large share that is spent on the infrastructure of motorists. Neither rail transport, nor bicycle infrastructure, let alone pedestrians:inside are given nearly as much money.
In a 2012 study, transport economists from the Technical University of Dresden calculated that the "per car unpaid costs at about 2.100 euro per year lie". Say: All others pay for motorists as well.
Where driving creates costs for society as a whole, cycling and walking create social benefits. Unfortunately, there are very few studies on this, but the few that do exist clearly show the benefits. In Norway, for example, a cyclist earns three euros per kilometer.
In cities, road costs are mainly financed by property and purchase taxes. In Germany, the car-oriented city dominates. Everything is built around the car. The needs of motorists must be met.
Wide, fast roads and lots of parking space: Along roads, huge, asphalted parking areas, multi-story, underground and above-ground parking garages, garages, driveways, concreted front yards, concreted courtyards, sidewalks, bicycle paths. The parking space ordinance regulates how much parking space must be built per square meter of living space.
The cost of parking substantially increases the cost of construction and also significantly impacts maintenance. In addition, real estate prices increase and rental costs rise substantially. Everyone has to pay, whether they use the parking space or not.
Drivers are subsidized by the general public. The additional surface consumption for cars does not only reduce the building density, but also the settlement density.
Often, tax revenues from households and businesses no longer cover the cost of maintaining roads and other infrastructure. Municipalities no longer have the funds to maintain what they have built. A classic Ponzi scheme, which represents a massive expenditure of money from all of us in favor of the car drivers.
8. Car drivers are right!
Who pays, means from it the right to the opinion sovereignty to be able to derive. "We are the cash cow of the nation", once scolded FDP man Rainer Bruderle when it came to the introduction of tolls. In general, motorists are supposed to pay for everything. One can also expect to be given priority and, of course, to be able to park for free.
But no, there is no right to a parking space in public space! And no, car drivers do not have more rights, even if Federal Minister of Transport Andreas Scheuer would like us to believe it.
Priority is given to fast traffic. The new StVO clearly cements the primacy of motor traffic. He rejects a measure like speed 30 in built-up areas. Where cyclists still find mention, it says for to pedestrians from the Ministry of Transport completely clearly:
The concerns of pedestrians are secondary and have to wait.
I ask myself, what kind of country do I live in?? Is there no uniform legal system in Germany? Why does someone who surrounds himself with tons of sheet metal, who occupies more space, puts others in mortal danger, threatens, harasses, poisons, have more right than anyone else??
The Basic Law clearly states: "All people are equal before the law". In the StVO this principle does not seem to apply anymore. The traffic right stands, as otherwise only the church right, outside of the fundamental rights.
Car drivers are clearly given an advantage. This legal conception is potentiated by a false self-perception of motorists and their unshakable belief in their own abilities.
97 percent say they have seen cyclists being overtaken too closely. At the same time, 95 percent say that they themselves are always particularly considerate of cyclists. A contradiction that needs to be clarified.
9. Cycling is just a fad
Until the 1950s, the bicycle was the most important means of individual transportation in Europe. Between 43 and 61 percent of the workers in a city with more than 100.000 inhabitants cycled in 1936. In 1938 already existed over 10.000 kilometers of bike paths and you went on vacation by bike.
From the 1950s on, the bicycle was more and more replaced by motorcycles and cars. The cities have been redesigned accordingly to suit the car. The surrounding countryside is sprawling. Today, only between three percent – in Saarland – and fifteen percent – in Hamburg – travel by bicycle.
Older generations are mainly monomodal by car, whereas 70 percent of Millennials, born between 1980 and 2000, are already much more broadly based. They are multimodal, meaning they use different forms of transportation: from walking to biking, scooters, cars, car sharing, and public transportation by bus and train.
Large parts of the population are now aware that sustainable mobility takes place in the environmental network (on foot, by bike and public transport) and not by car.
10. There is a war against the car
I find it hard to believe that a place that depends on cars should be fundamentally livable. Car addiction is unhealthy, it shortens our life span and hinders our social and family life.
This corresponds to the facts. It would be healthier, more social, more livable if we didn’t depend on cars and planned mobility together in a sensible way, but it’s a long way to get there and at first his statement provokes resistance.
In Germany, too, there are complaints everywhere that there is a real war against the car. The debate about particulate matter and nitrogen oxides raises the pulse of many people. There is also a great outcry that the German automotive industry will be destroyed and hundreds of thousands of jobs at the same time.
Every parking space that is eliminated, a sacrilege! Every lane taken for bicycle traffic is a disaster. Car drivers are slowed down, bullied, milked, insulted and treated badly. Nothing less than the freedom of mankind is at stake.
This may sound exaggerated, but it is not, because there is a very perfidious, emotional link between people and their cars.
For many, the car is a valuable possession that gives them freedom. An important property, with which one shows who one is and which is not only compatible with human freedom, but an indispensable part of it.
It is accordingly not only socially committed, but subject to the idea of a just order of freedom of civil society.
The Daily Mirror
Does this war against the car really exist? When I look at the road, I can’t see any of that. I see cars, cars, cars everywhere and the forecasts say that in the future there will be even more cars, cars, cars. Whether they are electrically powered or not, it makes little difference.
The distribution of public space in favor of the car is overwhelming, yet car drivers are immediately in an uproar with even the slightest change in their supposedly comfortable existence.
Rebuilding roads to make them safe is not a "war on cars," it’s just a banal, but only a banal and long overdue measure based on the realization that there are other road users who deserve a safe, pleasant and livable space.
11. People need cars
What if we had no private cars? How would people then shop? How to transport furniture? Like taking grandma to the doctor?
Most things could easily be done by bicycle. There are cargo bikes and trailers, they can easily be used to do shopping and transport furniture. And a rickshaw or cab is a convenient way for grandma to get to her doctor’s appointment.
Most routes are under five kilometers anyway; a radius that can be covered fastest and best by bicycle.
In Germany, the urban population is steadily increasing and now accounts for 77, 4 percent of the total population.
In the city, cars are a massive problem. The oversized roads are cutting up the cities and endangering its inhabitants. In addition, the car sits around pointlessly for 23 of the 24 hours a day, occupying valuable space that could be used much more wisely.
You can’t go to work or shopping without a car? Why then are only about sixteen percent of journeys made by car?? The car is most often used for pure pleasure. Over 28 percent of the roads are used for recreational purposes.
There will continue to be areas where the car plays a weighty role: In sparsely populated, rural areas. In densely populated, well-developed urban areas, however, the car inhibits mobility enormously.
They need more intelligent, effective and sustainable forms of transportation. The bike is one of them, next to buses and trains and of course our feet. One must not be forced to use a car, but must have the freedom to choose how to get around.