My adopted city of Stuttgart is a great place, but it’s not that bike-friendly. It’s surrounded by hills for one thing, and has a very strong pro-motoring lobby who have a tendency to howl if anyone suggests something like road pricing that may inconvenience their wealthy members driving their SUV’s into the city -or force them to use public transport. Because of road vehicles the city has legacy of dangerously high particle pollution in the centre, (In breach of EU standards) but that’s okay because any decent modern car has air conditioning as standard.

Bike infrastructure is improving but still sparse: I’d give the system a grudging 6/10. Apprently this is due to ‘lack of space’. We can’t fit bike lanes in, goes the reasoning, because Stuttgart is an old city with narrow streets. This sounds plausible until you realise that Tübingen and Freiburg have both managed to have more bike lanes despite being much older with narrower streets. In other words,‘lack of space’ really means “I want to drive my SUV through there” There is plenty of space between the buildings but it’s currently wasted on the motor vehicle.

However, The Stuttgarter Zeitung reports that Stuttgarters are cycling more- lots more. Shops are reporting a 57% hike in bike sales, and even higher increases in bike repairs with people digging old bikes out of the cellar. There is also a big increase in bike rental in the centre as people come to the city by public transport and rent a bike to travel around the city while they go shopping.

A 57% increase in car use would set the planners working into the night with new road schemes. I can’t wait to see what they come up with for bikes -after all Baden Württemberg has just announced it wants to be the ‘Bike state of Germany’. As soon as I see new bike lanes being built, I’ll let you know.

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