Minister of Transport Wissing: A little money for cyclists – politics

For the Federal Transport Minister, it is a sign that he is serious about the traffic turnaround. “Many people would use bikes and trains more often if they could safely park their bikes or e-bikes at the station,” says Volker Wissing (FDP). For commuters in particular, including those in rural areas, it is important that “bicycles and trains move closer together”. And so he announced a new federal funding program on Monday: he will provide up to 110 million euros over the next four years for the planning or construction of bicycle parking garages at train stations.

Among environmentalists and the coalition partner Greens, Wissing and his party do not exactly enjoy the reputation of being too committed to moving away from cars; there are many issues in the traffic light coalition. The lobbyists of the General German Bicycle Club (ADFC) have long complained that Wissing had to do more for the bicycle infrastructure. You now see a “positive signal” in the new funding program – but nothing more. After all, the Ministry of Transport itself calculated that 1.5 million bicycle parking spaces were missing at German train stations. This would require three billion euros or more. “This also shows that the Minister of Transport has not yet recognized the dimension of the issue,” says ADFC Managing Director Ann-Kathrin Schneider. “Another small funding program for the municipalities is not enough.”

The railway admits mistakes in the planning of the stations

Especially since most of the bicycle parking spaces that could be created in many places will not be covered by Wissing’s new funding pot. This only includes new construction or the expansion of existing multi-storey car parks or large collective locking systems, even in previously vacant buildings. In other words, closed facilities in which bikes are protected from thieves such as rain, no simple bike racks or double-decker parkers.

The fact that there hasn’t been enough of all of this so far is of course not just a question of money: In many municipalities, bicycle parking spaces have been debated for years, but nothing happens because the town hall and the railway shift responsibility to each other. Even the Ministry of Transport cannot solve this problem and at best refer to the advisory work of the information center “Bike parking at train stations”, which is based at the railway and is funded by the federal government. Bahn boss Richard Lutz now admits his own mistakes: The fact that train stations have to become “mobility platforms” with bicycle parking garages and charging stations for electric cars – this holistic thinking has so far simply been forgotten.

Politically, Wissing is under pressure to do more for the traffic turnaround. On Friday, he presented a new forecast that road traffic will continue to grow over the next three decades, especially truck traffic – far more than freight traffic on rails. The study does not only stir the minds of environmentalists. The Association of German Transport Companies (VDV) also criticizes unusually harshly that Wissing is cementing the status quo. “Instead of taking appropriate measures to improve the necessary framework conditions for more climate-friendly freight and passenger transport on the rails, people sit back and act as if everything is unchangeable,” complains VDV President Ingo Wortmann, who is also the head of Munich’s municipal transport company.

Wissing is now countering this with at least a small sign with its bicycle parking garage promotion. Even if the idea wasn’t his: it is already included in the federal government’s so-called national cycle traffic plan, passed by the grand coalition in spring 2021 and developed by Wissing’s predecessor Andreas Scheuer (CSU). Implementing this plan was firmly agreed in the coalition agreement, warns Green Party transport politician Swantje Michaelsen. “We know that we still need a lot of money”, the 110 million euros promised by Wissing could only be a start. “You can’t rest on that.”

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