North Rhine-Westphalia (NRW) is looking to the future with a network of Cycle Superhighways that connect inner-city destinations, the city to its outskirts, city-centers to city-centers, homes to workplaces, and much more. The benefits of bicycle travel are compelling. It eases burdens on roads and the environment, it’s inexpensive, promotes health, and is fun! Pedelecs are also making bicycles a genuine alternative to cars over longer distances.
That's why we in North Rhine-Westphalia need an extensive, safe and high-quality network for bicycle travel. The premium product in bicycle travel is the Cycle Superhighway – wide, convenient connections that significantly shorten traveling times within and between cities. We are making progress in NRW by constructing seven major Cycle Superhighways with the first stretches already in operation!
"Cycle Superhighways need to be of a high quality to meet the changing function and expectations in bicycle travel – which is constantly growing and, in some respects, getting faster. Important criteria determining quality concern dimensions, potential speeds, traffic safety, development of intersection points, minimal gradients, and last but not least, service elements to make cycling over longer distances easier and more appealing." (Transport Minister Michael Groschek on 8 June 2016 before the state parliament).
Cycle Superhighways are also ideal as network and infrastructure elements in the long overdue quantum leap of fully exploiting the potential of bicycle travel. The state of North Rhine-Westphalia is setting down standards to ensure quality. It is also taking responsibility by providing public easement for Cycle Superhighways.
The seven Cycle Superhighways being planned denote the beginning of a new era and signal the way forward into the future.
Regional and municipal Cycle Superhighways are indispensable network elements for future mobility. Cycle Superhighways are a core building block in the state government's action plan to promote short-distance mobility. They specifically meet the needs of modern bicycle travel – direct, fast, compatible with mass utilization, safe, and suitable for e-bike usage.
Both types of Cycle Superhighway (regional and municipal) will enable longer distances to be cycled, will open up new spaces and attract new target groups and potential. They are not only a welcome enhancement for tourist, leisure-time and amateur-sports cyclists, but will also entice commuters to switch from cars to bicycles. This switch will be supported and quickened with new products from the sector, and a rising demand for e-bicycles as a fast, inexpensive and individual mode of transport ideal also over mid-range distances.
To ensure good traffic flow – not only between but also within municipalities – requires appropriate regional Cycle Superhighways to be developed. Municipal bicycle ways are important, too, not only to provide routing continuity across regions; they also have their own function as a mainstay of bicycle travel within the municipalities. This applies chiefly to medium and large cities. In high-density, urban environments, municipal cycle ways take on important tasks associated with the management and consolidation of bicycle travel, making it quicker and increasing its appeal. The minimum length of a municipal Cycle Superhighway is primarily determined by local function and network structure.
Of all network and infrastructure elements, Cycle Superhighways bring the biggest added value, both for specific bicycle travel planning as well as for overall mobility. The Superhighways are multifunctional, usable for commuting, shopping, schools, leisure time, and tourist traffic. They can significantly extend multi-modal mobility in cities and city-outskirts, e.g. by serving as feeders for local public transport. Transporting cargo by bicycle – mainly within municipalities – is a further area of that could be exploited by Cycle Superhighways. The linking of regional and municipal Cycle Superhighways is sure to be an effective aspect of future mobility in cities and across regions. Such linking would clearly increase and promote a shift to bicycle travel, even for the current non-cycling populations.
Municipal traffic planning departments are facing new challenges concerning the routing, dimensions, design, prioritizing traffic, and especially the implementation of Cycle Superhighways in existing road systems. It involves not only fulfilling the specific planning parameters and quality criteria for Cycle Superhighways but also achieving a balance with the needs of other modes of transport. The design of intersection points also present new challenges as well as traffic regulations giving priority to bicycles.
Cycle Superhighways will fulfil a strategically important function for the future of short-distance mobility by consolidating and speeding up core bicycle traffic across regions and cities.
In the state government's action plan for promoting short-distance mobility, Cycle Superhighways are a "premium product" and one of 10 main elements to promote short-distance mobility. Such Superhighways must be based on clearly defined quality criteria.
This criteria especially concerns the quality of traffic flow, dimensions, speeds, traffic safety, the development of intersection points, routing, and last but least the service elements that make cycling over longer distances easier and more appealing. The rapid development in e-mobility, e.g. pedelecs, requires future networks and infrastructure to meet the changing needs of the ever increasing amount and speed of bicycle traffic whereby modifications will clearly need to be made to structures, dimensions and design features.
This means that bicycle travel on central, continuous and effective Cycle Superhighways will in future be safe and efficient, and offer a high level of riding comfort.
Cycle Superhighways are to be given priority in traffic control systems. This requires the integration of non-controlled crossings, signal controlled intersections and traffic priority regulations. Priority regulations are to be determined according to each specific case. In principle, Cycle Superhighways should avoid the crossing of federal and busy state highways. When necessary, a non-controlled solution for out-of-town should be strived for. Alternatively, a traffic-light controlled solution is to be sought.
Pedestrian crossings are an option, possibly as traffic light controlled crossings, pedestrian walkways and crossing assist systems. To achieve speed reductions before such crossings, sinusoidal elements can be integrated as used in the Netherlands and in Poland.
German traffic regulations currently have no specific signposting systems for Cycle Superhighways. These are to be developed in the future. In the meantime, it is recommended to use signs 244.1/244.2 (cycle way beginning/end) with the addition of the notice "Cycle Superhighway" (except for bicycle lanes).
The following route forms are available for Cycle Superhighways:
In 2013, North Rhine-Westphalia held a planning competition for Cycle Superhighways to establish what was then a largely unknown element within municipal bicycle travel planning.
The aim was to find five concepts for Cycle Superhighways in North Rhine-Westphalia whose planning could then be carried out through state funding as model projects. The five prize winners were to be from entries, when possible, from different parts of the state to enable presentations from areas with structural and topographical variations. The main priority was to find regional Cycle Superhighways but with the proviso for them to be rooted in/through municipalities.
The competition was open to all but the individual projects needed to fulfil two requirements to successfully participate in the competition:
To be considered a competition winner, the submissions had to include the following:
Very high expectations were therefore placed on the competition entries. This was necessary to ensure a project's feasibility following a win. This quality before quantity approach was evident in the number of entries: a total of eight ideas were accepted into the competition.
For the winning project, the North Rhine Westphalia Ministry of Urban Development, Housing and Transport provided state funding of 80% for a further feasibility study and implementation planning. Following a preliminary check by an external planning office, the competition entries were then handed over to the jury members to prepare for a final decision made at a joint meeting. An award ceremony for the five winners took place on 20 November 2013 in Düsseldorf by Transport Minister Michael Groschek.
This map provides you with a detailed overview of the funded and non-funded routes.