Bike lanes are comfortable, quick and safe. They have numerous benefits, and in cities like Copenhagen and Amsterdam have proven their worth time and time again. Experts are currently exploring how to add Hamburg and the surrounding metropolitan region to this list. They are researching how nine new bicycle fast lanes could change the face of bike traffic in the suburban and rural areas surrounding the city. Together with neighbouring states Schleswig-Holstein, Mecklenburg-Vorpommern and Niedersachsen, Hamburg is working on concrete plans to make bike traffic more convenient and efficient. The main challenge lies in integrating multi-lane bike-ways into both dense cityscapes and rural areas with fragile ecosystems.
Feasibility studies for bike traffic in the metropolitan region
Daily bikers have different requirements for their lanes than occasional cyclists might. Whether they’re used for the daily commute, sports or a freetime trip into nature, the perfect bike lane must be accessible in all weather conditions and visible even at night. Additionally, a feature part of the current plan is to create broad and straight roads with the fewest-possible intersections and stops to insure cyclists fast travel times.
All together, nine new lanes are planned. Start and end locations as well as many waypoints have been agreed on, concrete plans for routes are scheduled to be finalised in the summer of 2020. Further planning will be the next step. Approximately €1 million were allocated for the research, with the declared goal being the further improvement of bike traffic. In total, this will not only be one of the largest projects in the metropolitan region but also the single-biggest multi-state bike traffic project in all of Germany.
Design and communication from the start
Hamburg’s metropolitan region encompasses land from four different federal states. The large number of municipalities, villages and towns make this area particularly diverse in landscapes. Resident participation has been a key aspect of this project from the start. People from all participating areas were asked to contribute their ideas for the project. The communication and participation of residents will prove invaluable in the planning of all routes.
What are the concrete routes?
Currently, plans are underway to find the most efficient and feasible routes possible. The idea is to arrange the routes in a star-shape around Hamburg as direct extensions of the city’s already-existing veloroutes - the main bike traffic arteries in Hamburg, leading cyclists from suburban areas into the centre.
The following routes in the metropolitan region are planned:
The route is scheduled to span the 32 kilometre-long stretch between Hamburg and the city of Elmshorn in rural Schleswig-Holstein, with Tornesch, Pinneberg and Halstenbek important points along the way. The route is scheduled to connect with veloroutes 2 and 14 in the districts of Eimsbüttel and Altona.
The 47 kilometre-long route into Schleswig-Holstein will connect the towns of Bad Bramstedt, Kaltenkirchen, Henstedt-Ulzburg and Norderstedt with Hamburg’s neighbourhoods of Alsterdorf and Winterhude. There veloroutes 4 and 5a can be reached easily.
This route is designed to connect Hamburg-Wandsbek with the city of Ahrensburg, with its stunning castle. After only 8.5 kilometres, the route will meet veloroute 6 in Wandsbek, which will then carry cyclists into the centre of Hamburg.
This route will reach all the way to Geesthacht via an almost 30-kilometre stretch through Hamburg’s rural east. The quaint town by the Elbe river is known for being a major science hub. The bike road is scheduled to meet veloroute 9 in the districts of Bergedorf and Hamburg-Mitte.
Even the gorgeous city of Lüneburg will be easily reachable by bike when all plans come into fruition. The 57-kilometre route will include stops in Bardowick, Winsen (Luhe), Stelle and Seevetal. In Hamburg, the route will meet veloroutes 10 and 11 and lead through the districts of Harburg and Wilhelmsburg all the way into the centre.
Stade is known for its old town centre by the Elbe river. Via Horneburg, Buxtehude and Neu Wulmstorf, a bike route will connect the town with Hamburg-Harburg and veloroute 10. And if the entire 56 kilometres through the Elbmarschen and Altes Land regions are a little too much for some, an alternative route leads cyclists to Finkenwerder, from which they and their bikes can reach Hamburg’s city centre quickly and conveniently by ferry boat.
From Tostedt via Buchholz, a 27-kilometre-long route will lead into Harburg, where it will be seamlessly integrated into the Hamburg traffic grid. Expect incredible bike rides through the northernmost parts of the Lüneburg heathland.
Lübeck, Schwerin – Wismar
A further two routes won’t lead into the city of Hamburg, but will instead connect other significant cities of the metropolitan region with the surrounding rural areas. One of these routes will be built between Bad Schwartau and Groß Grönau. On their way, bike enthusiasts will pass the beautiful historic city of Lübeck. The other route will connect the historic town of Schwerin, with its magnificent castle, and the UNESCO world heritage site of Wismar. The route will measure a total of 32 kilometres through the stunning nature of Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania.