Most of the funding for the expansion of cycle paths remains unused. Since 2017, Federal Minister of Transport Andreas Scheuer (CSU) has made 125 million euros available to the states and municipalities for the expansion of cycle paths. Only 6.7 million euros of this had flowed to municipalities, municipal associations and states for this purpose by the beginning of September.
This is shown by a response from the German government to a question from the FDP parliamentary group in the Bundestag, which is available to the Daily Mirror. The funds called up for the nationwide expansion of cycle paths thus correspond to a share of just over five percent of the money allocated for this purpose.
Oliver Luksic, the transport policy spokesman for the FDP parliamentary group, commented on the figures, saying: "Despite many announcements by the Grand Coalition since the beginning of the legislature, far too little of millions of euros of taxpayers' money has reached cyclists."
The call of financial assistance is "miserable" and testifies to the failure of politics. "It now finally needs an effective planning acceleration, a targeted reduction in bureaucracy and more staff for the implementation of projects."In its response, the federal government justifies the low call-off for the construction of cycle paths with "complex planning and approval procedures" and busy planning offices in the states and municipalities.
A spokesman for the German Association of Towns and Municipalities explained on Wednesday in response to a question: "The construction of cycle paths is associated with particular financial, personnel and time costs. The outflow of funds therefore requires lead time." In addition, numerous players would have to coordinate the many sections of a cycle path.
The limited planning capacities of many municipalities in particular proved to be a bottleneck. In addition, he said, it is difficult for municipalities to find sufficient planners and engineers for the construction of high-speed bike lanes. "Especially smaller municipalities along potential bike fast lanes quickly reach their limits," said a spokesperson.
"It is important that the capacity is now also built on the part of the states so that all federal cycling funds can be accessed and the municipalities are supported as far as possible." In addition, the states should assume their own shares for the benefit of municipalities in budgetary difficulties.
Bavaria receives the most money for cycle paths on federal highways
Even of the funds for more and better bike paths along rivers, only a small portion has reached the municipalities. For example, since 2018, the Federal Ministry of Transport has provided around 4.5 million euros for the expansion of cycle paths along rivers for which the federal government is responsible ("federal waterways").
These include, for example, cycle paths on the Elbe, the Ruhr and parts of the Rhine. About 580,000 euros of these funds had flowed to local communities by the beginning of September - only about 13 percent of the funds earmarked for this purpose.Last year, the Federal Ministry of Transport increased its share of funding for the expansion of cycle paths along rivers from 50 to 90 percent. But in the house of Andreas Scheuer (CSU), those responsible expect that the funds for this will only flow more strongly again in the coming year.
Transport sector is the fourth-largest source of greenhouse gas emissions
The federal government's response also shows how much money went to the individual states for bike path construction on federal highways. Last year, the most money for cycle path construction on federal roads went to Bavaria (15.7 million euros), followed by Hesse (14.5 million euros) and Baden-Württemberg (10 million euros). The federal government provides around 100 million euros in funding each year for the construction and maintenance of cycle paths on federal highways.
In April, the Federal Minister of Transport Scheuer (CSU) launched the new "National Cycling Plan", which aims to enable seamless cycling infrastructure, better cycle commuting and increased cycle tourism by 2030.With 146 million metric tons of CO2 in 2020, the transport sector in Germany was the fourth largest emitter of climate-damaging greenhouse gas emissions and accounted for around 20 percent of total national emissions. Compared with 1990, emissions in this sector have fallen by just 18 million metric tons of CO2 and are therefore considered one of the biggest climate policy problem areas.
Photo by Markus Spiske