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Transportation

Berlin Plans a New Network of Bike Superhighways

Can Germany’s capital become the next great bike-friendly city?
A rendering of how Berlin's cycle highways could look, produced by a CDU party local branch.
A rendering of how Berlin's cycle highways could look, produced by a CDU party local branch.CDU Steglitz-Zehlendorf/Staubach+Kuckertz Architekten

Twenty years ago, Berlin’s network of sidewalk paths marked it out as one of Europe’s best places to ride a bike. But as the German capital knows well, it’s not easy to keep a reputation as a bike-friendly city. Nowadays, Berlin looks decidedly behind the times compared to Amsterdam and Copenhagen, with its bike-lane network characterized by limited space and poor separation from cars and pedestrians. Thanks to plans being hammered out by Berlin’s lawmakers right now, that could all be about to change.

At the heart of the plan lie 13 new bike superhighways, approved at the end of February. Narrowed down from an original list of 30, the first two of these new routes should begin construction by the end of 2017. As the “highway” title suggests, these won’t just be ordinary roadside paths. They will be completely segregated, unbroken longer-distance routes that will allow Berliners to get in and out of the city center much faster and more safely—without ever having to mix with cars.