Germany is still considered to be the ultimate car manufacturing nation, with major automakers ranked among the flagship brands of the German economy. Nevertheless, for several years a change has been taking place behind the scenes: more and more people are hopping onto their bikes again. Meanwhile, studies have shown that the bicycle (at least in large cities) is the vehicle of choice for distances of up to 5 kilometers. Those who are pedal pushing in the open air not only feel freer than those stuck behind a steering wheel, but they also often reach their destination quicker.
People are not only turning more to their bikes to avoid traffic jams and the stress that comes with them, or to say goodbye to parking spot hassles and high costs. The bicycle is currently being exalted as a trendy method of transportation for all income and age groups: the greying banker in a fine suit can be seen biking alongside the snazzy hipster, the sinewy amateur triathlete next to the spry elderly lady with her shopping basket. Cyclists are seen as environmentally friendly, health conscious, sporty, flexible, creative and clever.
The good old bicycle is steadily becoming what was once solely reserved for cars: a status symbol.
No longer simple and modest, bicycles are back and better than ever, taking on forms which are equally as unique and diverse as their riders. Regardless what kind of bike – city, mountain, touring, trekking, hybrid or electronic – high-quality bicycles are now a lifestyle product, and while taking you from point A to point B, they’re also demonstrating what type of person you are.
That the English word ‘bike’ is now imbedded in the German language is another indication of the international dimensions of this phenomenon, which has been growing in popularity for several years in Germany and is already flourishing in other countries. Denmark’s capital city, Copenhagen, is already being touted as the biking capital of the world. Roughly half of the city’s residents cycle to work daily. The infrastructure of downtown Copenhagen is geared for usability by cyclists. The city’s residents travel an average of 1.2 million kilometers by bike per day, compared to just 660,000 kilometers with the metro.
The pedaling masses which are conquering the inner cities are also bringing about political changes as well. In Germany, this is already having an effect on urban planning: the bike-friendly factor weighs heavily on decisions concerning future traffic management. The gentle green revolution isn’t making its point with chants and banners; it’s rolling through the streets on two wheels.