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Cycling Women in the 19th Century in Bremen

or: How the Germans could become more beautiful and happier (Ricarda Huch)

“I believe that if all Germans cycled, they would lose their dull sensuality and be happier and more agreeable.” (Ricarda Huch to Richard Huch 1896) 

The Free Hanseatic City of Bremen was a pioneer in the successful promotion of cycling in Germany in the 19th century1. And today, every second cyclist in Bremen is a woman – at least. But that was by no means the case 150/160 years ago. The bicycle – initially developed as a penny-farthing – was a male means of transport. Sons of wealthy merchants, factory owners and aristocrats could afford such a thing, because in 1880 a penny-farthing cost at least 200 marks, which was unaffordable for the working class. Even in 1912, the cheapest touring bike cost 30 marks, the equivalent of two weeks’ wages for a worker2.


The safety bicycle and pneumatic tyres changed everything (Foto: Museumsdorf Cloppenburg – Niedersächsisches Freilichtmuseum)

There were plenty of women who fancied sport and exercise, and the bicycle was an attractive, if dangerous, option. But there were essentially three obstacles standing between bicycles and women: social norms and (consequent) clothing, the slow pace of technological change, and the price of a bicycle.

It was only with the invention of the “safety bicycle” in 1885 (and pneumatic tyres in 18883), its mass production and the resulting drop in prices that the bicycle became accepted by the entire population – and thus also by women4. Continue reading Cycling Women in the 19th Century in Bremen

Pavement Parking and Accessibility

There is hardly an issue in Bremen that is as heated as the parking of cars in residential areas. Questions like these arise: Who does resident parking help? Is parking on pavements permissible? And if so, under what conditions? What rights do pedestrians have? The debate is characterised by assumptions and unsubstantiated claims on the part of both proponents and opponents of a sustainable traffic turnaround. Reason enough to take a look at the binding provisions of road and traffic law in a series of articles on Bremenize. Continue reading Pavement Parking and Accessibility

Sorting Bremen’s Cycling Advocacy Toolbox

Bremen has a long history of developing tools that have been proven to encourage and enable more people to cycle. The first German cycle path was built here in 1897, cycle streets were invented in Bremen in the 1970s, as was contra-flow cycling on one-way streets. More recently, cycle neighbourhoods have been developed, and mandatory bike lanes built.

Two types of cyclist in Bremen

But there is one “tool” that has proved to be particularly unhelpful. In Bremen, it gets used yet is largely unknown. In the wider world it is recognised as a damaging idea that has set back a number of countries by decades. It is called vehicular cycling (VC). Continue reading Sorting Bremen’s Cycling Advocacy Toolbox

Accessibility in Bremen Traffic (Part A: Road Law)

Part 1 : The legal Situation on Bremen’s Streets

Public space is always a scarce commodity in cities that have grown over time without central planning.  Ever more, and ever bigger, vehicles are competing for the same amount of space.  At the same time,  private automobiles are continuing to push other modes of transport out of this public space.  Currently, political as well as legal resistance to this situation is growing, supported by environmental organisations such as BUND, NABU, citizens‘ and neighbourhood initiatives, and transport organisations such as ADFC, VCD; Fuss e.V., Forum for Transportation Transformation („Forum Verkehrswende“), Autofreier Stadttraum („Auto Free City Space/City Dreams“) and Coalition for Transportation Transformation (“Bündnis Verkehrswende“).  In addition, many citizens have filed suit against the city-state for its lack of action against vehicles parked illegally on sidewalks.  This problem is further complicated by electric scooters parked on sidewalks  In the summer of 2020, a visually impaired man was seriously injured in Bremen when he tripped over an electric scooter. He has  filed suit against the city-state for not protecting him from injury.

Parking on the sidewalk in Mindener Strasse in Peterswerder in Bremen (foto: Olaf Dilling)

Continue reading Accessibility in Bremen Traffic (Part A: Road Law)

How to Transform A Busy Street

A transport transition needs to be attractive as well as contributing to safer cycling and walking . How could that work? A cycle street free of car traffic in the middle of the city, on a main road? Is that possible?

Major tram hubs, lit and sheltered, right at some of the city’s most important road junctions. Can we make that happen? The initiative “Einfach Einsteigen” (‘just hop on’) has developed creative solutions for these questions.

How Friedrich-Ebert-Straße could look. Graphic: Einfach Einsteigen

Continue reading How to Transform A Busy Street

Protected Bike Lanes in Corona Times: Do it Bremen!

After Corona (2): When will Bremen get Protected Bike Lanes?

Shortly before the outbreak of the pandemic, several protected bike lanes were announced in Bremen. In the meantime, we in Germany are in the middle of the second wave of infection – with a kind of “lockdown light”. Already during the first wave, cycle lanes were quickly and easily set up on multi-lane roads in many cities around the world and also in many German cities. These cities have thus responded to the changed conditions and the changing needs of their citizens during the pandemic.

In contrast, Bremen has so far not responded to the pandemic with a single pop-up cycle path.


Berlin, Kottbusser Damm: pop-up bike lane. Photo: Olaf Dilling

Continue reading Protected Bike Lanes in Corona Times: Do it Bremen!

Platz Da! Parliament Agrees Compromise

Platz Da! (There’s Space!) Bremen has collected 6,000 signatures in the Hanseatic city and held endless debates with politicians to make more space in Bremen for all people. Platz da! has fought for state-wide parking management, for the abolition of  parking on footpaths and cycle paths, for a proper enforcement of parking bans and for a transport transition in the city. The “comprehensive” aspect of their proposals was turned down by the ruling coalition, principally by the Social Democrats, but at least parking management is to be introduced in some districts – Mitte, Östliche Vorstadt, Schwachhausen, Findorff, Walle and Neustadt. It has been a long battle, but on 17 November 2020 parliament agreed the compromise. As an admonition and reminder for the members of parliament, the activists came to the Bürgerschaft…

Einfach Einsteigen: A Public Transport Revolution?

The climate crisis and need for a transformation to a sustainable traffic and transport system demand feasible concepts. The initiative “Einfach Einsteigen” (not exactly translateable, but close to Simply Enter; Get on (board)/hop on) has developed a calculated concept for financing the expansion and operation of Bremen’s local transport system. A role model for other cities as well?

Here is some background information on “Einfach Einsteigen” (hereafter abbreviated as “we”) financing concept for local transport as well as its assessment by the Bremen Senate. If the concept is implemented, the initiative claims, local transport in Bremen can be operated without tickets as well as comprehensively expanded.(Note:  this is operating  under  German  law) Continue reading Einfach Einsteigen: A Public Transport Revolution?

Politicians Moved to Address Sielwall


Sielwall end of 19th century Foto: Beatrix Wupperman

Sielwall – young men with overly-souped up cars race through it, and local politicians are finally seeing this as the danger that it is. Now the Sielwall and all four roads which lead to the so-called Sielwalleck are to be closed to car traffic up to 80 metres in each direction on weekend nights, thus eliminating through traffic. This is good. But instead of just closing short stretches of road temporarily, the Sielwalleck and the Sielwall need to be reconsidered and redesigned, for every day traffic, not just on the weekend. Continue reading Politicians Moved to Address Sielwall