Stadtluft will use the examples of Berlin, Graz and Winterthur to examine the role of bikes in the city. Why does a city’s biking infrastructure look the way it does? What are the historical, economic, cultural and social aspects? What is the philosophy behind cycling in the city? Who defines the aesthetics of cycle paths in particular and the public space in general?
How are decisions made about the materials and surfaces of cycle paths? In short, what lies behind what is visible? And does cycling shape a city?
For several years now, and even more so since the pandemic, cycling has been booming in European cities. But the role of cyclists varies greatly from city to city.
There are cities such as Amsterdam or Copenhagen which are well-known for being bike-friendly and which cyclists have enjoyed riding around for decades, In such places, the public space is organised in such a way that cyclists are able to reach their destination both safely and quickly. Bicycles shape the cityscape, and the road layouts for motorised traffic are designed to ensure that cars have to move slowly in their prescribed lanes. The opposite is true in Berlin, where cycling remains a hazardous activity, even in the 21st century. Bikes queuing up at critical points may well have become a familiar sight, but this has more to do with the fact that the cycle paths are narrow and blocked and often end unexpectedly. Despite all the political declarations of intent by a red-green government, Berlin’s sprawling streets and crossings still belong to its cars. In Graz, an Austrian town in the mountains, cycle paths have been popping up all over the place, at least in the historical centre, and the number of cyclists has risen continuously. Winterthur, on the other hand, has long been considered one of the leading cycling cities in Switzerland. Some say the city has rested on its cycling laurels for too long. Perhaps this is why the city has recently launched various initiatives again.
The past, present and future of cycling in Berlin, Graz and Winterthur will be systematically analysed. Senior politicians, local officials and lobby groups in the three cities will exchange views. The exchange will be enriched by input from artists, scientists and members of the public. By invitation only.
Introductory Speech by Simon Kuper, Columnist Financial Times, Paris
Panel debate at the BauForum with decision-makers from the worlds of politics, city governments and lobby groups from Berlin, Graz and Winterthur. Registration (PDF).
Preliminary interview with panel guest Alex Capus in the Landbote newspaper of 5 May 2022 (PDF).
Overview of the perimeters to be dealt with on the topics of reallocation of space, intuitive traffic routing and safety (PDF).