Berlin: Thousands Take Part in Bicycle Protest

In Berlin, up to 30,000 cyclists participated in a big annual protest for an accelerated mobility policy reform that includes safe bike lanes. The Berlin Police Department closed the Autobahn to motorized traffic in order to let the demonstrators use it.

Berlin, June 12th, 2022. Update: June 13th, 6:11 a.m. CEDT (The Berlin Spectator) — The organizers of today’s huge bicycle rally say 30,000 people took part, meaning the German Cyclists Association’s (ADFC) event was a success. Berliners and visitors on bikes were visible in the entire city. And they brought their message across.

In the early afternoon, this crowd reached Berlin’s Neukölln district. Photo: Imanuel Marcus

Better Conditions

“For decades, tens of thousands of people have been fighting for better conditions for bicycle traffic at our annual protests”, Frank Masurat, the chairman of the ADFC in Berlin, stated. Berlin’s plans for a new bike lane network were ready. Now it was time to finally implement them along with the mobility transition, he said. This was the time for deeds, not words. Until 2026, the city state of Berlin intends to install hundreds of kilometers of safe bike lanes that protect cyclists from motorized traffic.

At some point, thousands of cyclists took over two Autobahnen. Photo: Imanuel Marcus

The participants of today’s rally gathered at 80 meeting points along a total of 18 routes from the outskirts via Berlin’s Autobahnen (plural) A100 and A115 to the city center. At the ‘S-Bahn’ train station Prenzlauer Allee in Berlin’s north-eastern part, dozens arrived well ahead of time. They included a couple who came to the German capital all the way from the city of Essen in order to take part in the protest. They rented two bicycles for this purpose and said they had joined lots of bicycle protests in their region as well. Since they had used the 9 Euro ticket on regional trains, the trip to Berlin had taken nine hours.

The police protected everyone along the way. Nobody was allowed to overtake these vehicles with yellow flags. Photo: Imanuel Marcus

Fast Lane

It did not take long until hundreds of cyclists came around the corner with their police entourage which included cops on bikes and in cars. The Berlin Police Department did a good job protecting the cyclists and stopping all motorized traffic. On the way, more and more cyclists joined.

The crowd went through a tunnel on the A100 Autobahn, on its way to Charlottenburg. Photo: Imanuel Marcus

At the Autobahn ramp, thousands of participants waited until everyone had arrived via all routes before the police let them enter. To the protesters, it felt good to cycle on the fast lane and wave to pedestrians who looked down from bridges. Invading the Autobahn, once a year during those protests, has a symbolic meaning: The AFDC and the demonstrators want cars and trucks to have less room, while cyclists and pedestrians get more.

The weather was perfect most of the day. Clouds protected the participants from the Sun. So did this bridge. Photo: Imanuel Marcus

Fast and Healthy

Even children on bikes with 24-inch wheels took part. So did all other generations. Some protesters rode weird bikes. A middle-aged man with long hair and a million tattoos probably felt like Dennis Hopper or Peter Fonda. He moved along on a velocipede that looked like a chopper. Another individual rode a custom-made bike which was about 2 meters 6.56 feet) high. He definitely had the best view.

At about 2:00 p.m., the first protesters arrived at the ‘Environment Festival’. Photo: Imanuel Marcus

Hours after the first cyclists had left from their meeting points around Berlin, they arrived at the Victory Column. From there, most cyclists continued on to Brandenburg Gate, where an ‘Environment Festival’ took place. Obviously, it was all about green mobility and saving the environment. With its big event, her organization had “celebrated the bicycle as a fast, healthy and climate-friendly means of transport”, the ADFC’s Susanne Grittner said.

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