The northern bank of the Main is now closed to car traffic. So I hopped on my bike and pedaled firmly once across the city to test how bike-friendly Frankfurt has become. After all, the city has announced Dolles after Frankfurt did not score particularly well in the ADFC (Allgemeiner Deutscher Fahrradclub) test in 2018.
How do you move through the city? Are you one of those with a cargo bike? Do you put your helmet on your head in the morning and pedal eagerly to the office? Or do you, like me, use the bike mainly for errands, or just to drift a bit through the streets?
In a nutshell: I love cycling for my life, but have mostly avoided it in Frankfurt so far.
What makes me prefer the car? Not personal convenience. No.
I don't like cycling in Frankfurt because I don't enjoy it on the crowded streets. I also still ride with my dog in the basket in the back. That's just too unsafe for me.
But since its decision to make Frankfurt more bike-friendly, the city has been busily painting the streets full of bike lanes. And since the beginning of August, the northern bank of the Main has been closed to car traffic as a trial.
The decision is not without controversy, which is in the nature of things: some are happy about it, others are annoyed. The fact is: who uses the car in the future, must have even stronger nerves than usual. Because one thing is clear: the city of Frankfurt wants to become more bicycle-friendly. Even demands of the bicycle decision has taken over the department, of which I had told you in April last year in the post to "Schöner Radeln".
The future of urban transport means: cycling will be promoted and expanded, cars will have to take a back seat.
In 2018, the ADFC had only certified Frankfurt as sufficiently bike-friendly: Parking cars on bike paths make life difficult for cyclists. A bike lane that suddenly ends at the street increases the feeling of insecurity, such as at the notorious Friedberger Landstraße at the height of Scheffelstraße. This is a spot that leaves me confused every time. First no bike lane at all, then a few meters of lane and suddenly it's over again.
Finally a bike lane for the Friedberger
But as I said: the city has big plans and takes in its cycling planning exactly the section from Börneplatz to Friedberger in the target. Whereby more space for cyclists logically means one lane less for cars. Will more safety for bicycles lead to more traffic jams? The city speaks of a "test phase". However, so-called artificial traffic jams are not to be created.
Clear separation between cars and bikes creates safety
Having to share the road with cars like on Friedberger is what I like least.
And that's still the rule in Frankfurt, after all. What unsettles me is not only the uncomfortable proximity of cars, but also having to gauge the behavior of the car behind me. I hope that there is enough space on the left lane at the Friedberger Tor near the Wallanlagen to overtake me. If not, I hope for enough patience of the driver, so that he does not rush past closely.
On Taunusstraße the situation is not much better. Strong nerves are needed by a cyclist who wants to turn across the intersection Am Hauptbahnhof: the left-turn lane leads me right into the middle of the busy street, which is probably only quiet on Sundays.
However, a ray of hope finally awaits me then at Baseler Platz: a thick wide bike lane with arrows leads clearly and safely across Stuttgarter Straße.
What can I say? It's a completely different driving experience now. On the three-lane road, bikes and cars are now clearly separated - which makes all the difference.
The closure of the Main Quay is wonderful for cyclists
At the end of my tour I am curious: What about the closed Main riverbank? What can I say. It's glorious - all clear except for pedestrians, who of course are now criss-crossing the Mainkai riverbank without looking back. But the most important thing: The cars are far away, even hardly to hear. It is as peaceful and quiet as on a bike tour through nature. For a moment I am in cycling heaven. Reality brings me back down to earth at the height of the Old Bridge: only road, no cycle path in the direction of Schöne Aussicht. I decide to pedal further into Ostend along the empty and wide footpath. Better safe than sorry.
By the way, if you don't fancy the city at all and are still looking for a bike ride for the weekend. How about an ultimate tour across the Main?
How do you experience the traffic changes so far? How safe do you guys feel biking around town?
A contribution by Sabina Brauner