One can hardly imagine the jokes that promenadologists had to endure in the past: the research on walking. Because it can’t be so difficult that it would need science, the basic principle is well known: one step at a time, a “Grüß Gott” if appropriate and don’t run to an obstacle or fall into a pit in front of all the landscape cinema. The corona lockdowns and the resulting tendency of Germans to stroll due to the lack of alternative leisure time have made the few walk researchers in the country a popular guild. They went through radio studios and editorial offices for interviews – because a bunch of aspects worth discussing while walking: such as sociological, cultural, urban planning or tourism issues.
So to bicycle science, which at the first, quick thought might sound more like the category “yodel diploma”. Everyone knows the rules, even if, for example, not everyone in Munich and other Bavarian cities follows them. But the social trend towards bicycles arguably calls for research. At least that’s what the SPD parliamentary group in the state parliament makes clear. “More scientific expertise: Bavaria also needs a cycling professorship,” is the name of the recently submitted application. The state government is requested to examine the establishment of an endowed professorship for cycling. This would “considerably increase the importance of cycling as an important building block for the traffic turnaround”.
The idea for this actually comes from the CSU – or the frame of reference of the application. Specifically: from Federal Transport Minister Andreas Scheuer. Last year he distributed future checks for endowed professorships in order to anchor the topic in research and teaching – from infrastructure planning to mobility management to bicycle-friendly legislation, it said. “We strengthen the back of cyclists. Cycle traffic must be considered as a means of transport on an equal footing right from the start,” said Scheuer at the time. “That is why we are now promoting cycling as a university subject,” new master’s courses should be created. 33 universities were interested, seven were selected for the funding pot of eight million euros. For example Wuppertal, Wiesbaden, Wolfenbüttel – none from Bavaria.
That’s where the SPD comes in. Ironically, there is no cycling professorship in the “cycling state of Bavaria with its dreamy landscapes”. In addition, the switch to bicycles must be specifically promoted, the argumentation is similar to that of Andreas Scheuer’s initiative. The fact that the universities in Bavaria missed out on federal funding is also criticized by experts. “So that Bavaria can achieve the traffic turnaround and the inner cities are noticeably relieved, scientific expertise in cycling must be bundled on site. Bavaria should therefore set up a cycling professorship on its own.”
In the state government, it doesn’t sound like they want to tackle this tomorrow. A spokesman for the Ministry of Transport announced in consultation with the Ministry of Science: Science and knowledge transfer are not limited to national borders, researchers are well networked nationally and internationally. “The scientific findings of the seven cycling professorships in Germany can also be used in Bavaria.” The universities in the Free State put a focus “on the holistic view of mobility and traffic planning” – for this the Ministry of Transport is “in close contact with the relevant chairs”.