On Nov 27, the cities of Essen and Mülheim celebrate the opening of the fast cycling way ‘RS1’, linking Mülheim Central Station and Essen’s city boundary. The first phase ensures safe cycling almost without any interruptions over a length of five kilometres.
This is just the first part of the ambitious cycle path project which will connect Duisburg and Hamm over a distance of 101 kilometres. It thereby crosses the whole Ruhrgebiet, mainly re-using old railway tracks of the area of industrialisation. Meant for every-day com muting, this cycle path is not mainly about enjoying the landscape, but leads you discover the regional heritage of the coal era from a totally new perspective. This project also carries forward the idea of Essen and the Ruhrgebiet being European Culture Capital in 2010.
The number of daily commuters that cycle every day increases steadily. However, Germany still lacks suitable infrastructures over longer distances of 10-15 kilometres. For example Pedelecs can easily cover such a distance emphasizing the need for such infrastructure. It’s estimated that the beneficial impacts on health due to more cycle activity on RS1 can sum up to 11 million euros – reductions of the number of accidents not included yet. The ambitious target is to reduce the amount of kilometres travelled by car in the Ruhrgebiet by 400 000 – every day.
How the other phases of project could be funded is not finally resolved. The first part of the cycle path has been covered by old EU funds, the Government of North Rhine-Westphalia and RVR (Regional Association Ruhr), but doesn’t fulfil all standards which were originally intended. An interest fur such fast cycle paths exists in many other German metropolitan areas including Frankfurt, Nuremberg, Berlin and Hamburg. The attention is there – let’s see how German cycle landscape is going to change over the next years.