For Whom The Bike Bell Tolls


The German cycling club ADFC organised a protest outside the German ministry for Transport and their equivalent of the UK’s home office with cyclists ringing their bike bells to symbolically wake up the politicians to the effects of Dieselgate and to call for increased spending on cycling infrastructure on the day that a “Diesel Summit” was to take place: it really was a case of For Whom the Bike Bell Tolls!

In Germany, as elsewhere across Europe and beyond, diesel powered vehicles in particular are a major source of NOx emissions and it was a German car manufacturer, VW, that had to admit to cheating on emissions tests internationally. All countries committed in the Paris Agreement to reduce emissions to prevent climate change.

The ADFC, Germany’s largest cycling club with more than 165,000 members, had pointed out that – much like here in the UK – half of car journeys in towns are shorter than five kilometers, which could easily be replaced by riding a bike or walking if the appropriate infrastructure were available.

With Federal elections on the horizon, the ADFC is waging an effective campaign to see enhanced cycling infrastructure, as well as other measures such as 30kph speed limits in towns, and better public transport.

A Step in the Right Direction

The sound of bike bells ringing loudly disguised the sound of the cash tills opening, as the German government agreed to increase the already substantial 125 million Euros for cycling infrastructure to 200 million. “A Step in the Right Direction,” said club chairman Ludger Koopmann who wants to see a paradigm shift towards environmentally friendly transport policy.

Let’s Do It Like the Dutch

A number of the protestors carried signs calling for Germany to “do it like the Dutch”. With the level of bike infrastructure in Germany, we could probably carry signs saying “Let’s do it like the Germans” as an interim step to following the famous Dutch model.

Are there things here that would serve as a good model for the UK?


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