Ambitious German reform of the road code for cycling

With the up-to-date review of the road code the German federal traffic minister Andreas Scheuer (CSU) wants to strengthen cycling traffic to make cycling more attractive and safer. The self-proclaimed “cycling minister” surprises with ambitious measures in his proposal: Among those are a minimum distance for overtaking cyclists, creating cycling zones and rules on when not to overtake cyclists.

Scheurer found clear words for his campaign: “I am traffic minister and thus also cycling minister. With the clear regulation we are strengthening cycle traffic and make sure that cycling rapidly becomes considerably more attractive and safer.”
He noted the proposals will now be put to the provinces “to ensure these measures which are important for cycling traffic are implemented as soon as possible.”
The minister calls the reform “the largest cycling reform in 20 years.” Scheurer stressed: “The bicycle is an equal part of the road traffic. This also has to be mirrored in the road code.”
These are the measures that are to be implemented. (A swift realisation is expected as in Germany – other than in Austria – the road code (StVO) is a directive that can be passed by the ministry and changes do not need parliamentary approval.)

No-overtaking cyclists

With the introduction of a new road sign the traffic authorities in the German provinces are to be given the possibility to create zones where overtaking cyclists is prohibited, e.g. in bottlenecks.

Minimum distance for overtaking cyclists

Within city limits the minimum distance for overtaking cyclists in a motorised vehicle is to be set at 1.5 metres. In rural areas it will be 2 metres. Currently the German StVO – as does the Austrian – is simply demanding a “sufficient distance”.

Green arrow for cyclists

With the StVO amendment the existing green arrow regulations will also be extended to cyclists taking a right turn from a cycle path or a structurally separated cycle lane. Additionally a separate green arrow will be implemented which will only apply to cyclists.

Creation of cycling zones

Modelled after the tempo-30 zones in future also cycling zones can be created. The regulation is to be based on the one for cycling streets.

Facilitate cyclists riding side-by-side

It will specifically be allowed for cyclists to ride side-by-side as long as traffic is not impeded. Currently cyclists have to ride behind each other.

General parking ban on protective cycle strips and increasing fines for double parking

The German traffic ministry (BMVI) plans to introduce higher, more effective fines for cars illegally parking on protective cycle strips crossings and for double-parking – this is to be introduced already this year. Currently cars can stop for up to three minutes on the white line separating a cycling strip from the road. This often means that cyclists cannot use the protective lanes without having to swerve around cars or opening doors.

Walking pace for trucks taking a right-turn

To increase traffic safety within city limits trucks taking a right-turn are to be limited to a walking pace of (7 to 11 km/h).

Extending the parking ban at crossings and junctions

Parking within 5 metres before crossings or junctions is to be forbidden where there is a cycling infrastructure parallel to the road. This aims to improve the view between road and cycle lane.

Simplifications for cargo bikes

To reserve parking spaces and loading bays particularly for cargo-bikes the ministry will introduce a “cargo bike” pictogram.

Road sign for cycling highways

The road sign “cycling highways” is to be introduced into the road code, to allow for designating roads as cycling highways regardless of the road surface (e.g. on sandy surfaces)

Innovation provision

Currently there is a provision for orders limited to certain periods or areas which can be used to assess measures for regulating traffic or making it safer. In future it will be possible to use these orders for model runs regardless of the current safety level on a road. These orders are to be implemented in cooperation with the municipalities which in turn strengthens their voice in these decisions. Further expansions to this provisions will be discussed next year.

Simplifying the opening of one-way streets for cyclists heading the opposite direction

A clarification in the administration regulation accompanying the road code is to make it easier for municipalities to open one-way streets for cyclists heading the opposite direction

The changes to the regulation are to be discussed with the provinces and other authorities before the summer, according to the BMVI. Some might come into effect from 2020 already.

Photo: Volksentscheid Fahrrad Berlin

Posted on June 26, 2019