Cyclists gave the city of Halberstadt a grade of four minus – in other words, just adequate – in the "Bicycle Climate Test. 276 participants in the survey of the General German Bicycle Club (ADFC) on cycling conditions had filled out the questionnaires for the district town.
Biggest shortcoming with signposts
According to the evaluation, the biggest shortcomings include poor to no signposts, frequent bicycle theft and that cyclists are not allowed to ride against the direction of travel in one-way streets.
"It was clear to us from the start that we wouldn't do well," says Martin Habsick, a traffic planner for the city council.
It was the first time that the ADFC analyzed data for Halberstadt – it only does this when there are 50 or more people filling out the survey.
That is why the city had become last year for participation on the Internet. The administration uses the test result as "mood barometer".
First protective strip two years ago
It's only been two years since there was a traffic planner in Halberstadt to address the issue of cycling.
Habsick knows, for example, "The trend is to get cyclists out on the road, into the field of vision of motorists."Thus two years ago the first protective stripe for cyclists on roadways in Halberstadt had been put on.
"People didn't know that yet," there had been a lot of criticism.
But now the concept is accepted, and accidents, as feared by critics, have not occurred, Habsick said. Whereas: The respondents of the test criticize that cyclists have to ride in "mixed traffic" with cars. For this there was the mark 4,8.
Important: reach the city center
Another point of criticism is that the wire bikes are often not allowed to ride against the direction of the one-way streets.
For this, protective lanes would also have to be painted on the roads, the traffic planner explains. Where this could happen in Halberstadt is currently being examined.
In addition, a cycling concept is to be drawn up specifically to clarify how cyclists can get from the districts to the city center. This also includes good signposting.
False parkers are controlled
The accessibility of the city center has rated the respondents comparatively good (3.4). According to the ADFC evaluation, it is also positive that illegal parking on bike paths is controlled and that bicycles can be taken on buses and trains, even free of charge. "This is not clear to many."
In the future, people living in the county seat will be able to cycle not only to their own city center, but also to the heart of Quedlinburg: Starting in mid-May, a new section of bike path is to be built between the two cities.
The state road construction authority also wants to build bicycle paths on disused railroad lines: in the municipality of Huy and from Gernrode to Ballenstedt, not far from state road 242. All three projects cost 4.2 million euros.
The results are similar
Wernigerode also received a grade in the ADFC test: an even four. The strengths and weaknesses are similar to the result from Halberstadt.
City spokesman Tobias Kascha explains that improving the image of cycling is a challenge. It should be advertised that there are bike paths and bicycles for rent, he said. Pedestrians and cyclists must be made aware of the need for mutual consideration.
Outside the towns, there are 156 kilometers of bike paths in the district, the district administration informs on MZ inquiry. Depending on the situation, the state, the district and the municipalities are responsible. In addition, there are cycle paths such as the Europaradweg, which runs for 78 kilometers through the Harz region.
The communities would receive support from a working group.
"The goal is for uniform standards to be applied in the district for the expansion and signage of bicycle facilities," the district said. That is also a basis for being able to apply for funding for bicycle paths.
The district council cancels the subsidies
For new cycle tracks at circle roads no money is available because of the budget situation, communicates the district. With the supplementary budget for 2019 passed by the district council, the Harzkreis subsidy for cycle paths was completely cancelled – planned was 90.000 euros.
This is the complaint of the Bündnis 90/Die Grünen parliamentary group after the district council meeting. She sees the "plight of the district". However, the construction of cycle paths is important for safety and tourism.
The group will work to ensure that "at least eight percent of all transport infrastructure funds are invested in the construction of cycle paths", he says. Green Party chairman Bernhard Zimmermann praises the bicycle, saying it is good for health and emits no carbon dioxide.
Theft of bicycles
That bicycles are often stolen, the respondents of the ADFC test state for Halberstadt as well as for Wernigerode – there was in each case the mark 4.8.
In the past year, 635 bicycles were reported as stolen in the entire district of Harz, the criminal investigation department in Magdeburg reported on request. In the previous year, there were 700, which is a decrease of 9.3 percent. Figures for the cities of Wernigerode (144 thefts in 2018, 164 in the previous year) and Quedlinburg (79 and 86) are provided by the Harz police department.
12.304 bicycles were stolen in Saxony-Anhalt last year. Most in Halle (3670), Magdeburg (3178), the Salzlandkreis (745) and Dessau-Roßlau (689), according to the Kripo. The police registered the fewest bicycle thefts in the districts of Mansfeld-Südharz (173), Salzwedel (192), Jerichower Land (287) and Burgenlandkreis (296). Just under 11 percent of cases in the state were solved, up from 12.6 percent in 2017.
"The theft of bicycles belongs to the acquisitive crime. This means that bicycles are stolen in order to sell them again immediately. Drug addicts often finance their consumption and livelihood in this way," according to the police. Most of the suspects are over 21 years old and male. Only a small percentage of the perpetrators come from abroad.