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Cycling climate test 2012 in Germany


Germany, 332 cities

Title in original language:


Project description:

Starting situation and background

In 2012 the German cycling association ADFC released the fifth edition of its ‘cycling climate test’. Previous editions of the survey have taken place in 1988, 1991, 2003 and 2005. The number of participants has tripled from 2005 to 2012 where 79,000 people gave their opinion on the cycling friendliness of their city. As a consequence, the number of cities taking part has grown from 136 to 332. The cycling climate test 2012 was supported by the German federal ministry for transport.


The choice of a means of transport is very much based on the way its image is perceived and on the subjective reality of the situation. Therefore, an important requirement for further increase in cycling is a positive cycling climate in cities and municipalities. The cycling climate test provides the local authorities with key information and supports their efforts. The test results draw a picture of the overall cycling friendliness of German municipalities and provide valuable input for the work of cycling advocacies.

Not only the recent city ranking is an important benchmark for cities to target their efforts for making cycling more attractive, but also the comparison with the results of the 2005 survey.

The ADFC cycling climate test evaluates the strengths and weaknesses from the perspectives of a broad range of cyclists. Although the test was initiated by the ADFC, less than 20% of the participants were members of the German cycling association. The opinions and indications of the participating cyclists can help to improve the conditions for not-yet-cyclists too. A representative survey is not needed.


The project was carried out in four phases:

  • Coordination of methodology
  • Data collection (field work)
  • Data processing
  • Analysis

The questionnaire comprised 27 questions in five categories.
The five categories were:

  1. Cycling and traffic climate
  2. Importance
  3. Safety
  4. Comfort
  5. Infrastructure and network

There was a threshold for the minimum number of participants (50) in order for a city to make it into the ranking.

The participant structure was analysed with regard to gender and age as well as how often they use their bicycle and for what purpose.

In addition to the paper version of the questionnaire, which has been used by almost 5,000 participants, a web-based tool for entering the data was used by the majority of participants. Public authorities have actively promoted the survey through advertisements. The cycling climate test has been accompanied by a postcard campaign in order to reach a large number of cyclists outside of the big cities too. The postcards were put on display in restaurants and bicycle shops.

All German cities with more than 80,000 inhabitants are represented in the cycling climate test. The results of the survey were officially published in February 2013 and attracted a lot of media coverage. Cities have been divided into front-runners of the year 2012 and those that are catching up in comparison to the year 2005. This encourages networking between cities and municipalities in order to move forward and build on synergies in the promotion of cycling. The beginners can learn from good practice as well as from the mistakes made by the pioneers, provided they have carried out an evaluation.

Cycling climate test in other countries and languages

The European research project ‘trendy travel’ (www.trendy-travel.eu) has taken up the idea of the bicycle climate test and provides translations of their questionnaire in several languages as free downloads from their website. This adaptation of the ADFC cycling climate test comprises 22 questions in four categories and assesses the following criteria:

  • General attitude towards cycling
  • Perception of promotion and the image of cycling
  • Infrastructure
  • Safety, conflicts and problems
  • Bicycle in comparison to other mobility modes

Even though the approach is very similar the ‘trendy travel’ questionnaire is generally less specific in its questioning, e.g. demographic data, bicycle usage and car ownership. While the ADFC questionnaire is supposed to be filled in by the participants, the ‘trendy travel’ questions are being asked by an interviewer. Additional documents provide guidelines on how to carry out the survey and benchmarking from cities that have already done the test. Apparently, the connection of children and cycling, especially campaigns that were targeted at how to get to the kindergarten have received a lot of positive media reaction.

In either case it is recommended to repeat a bicycle climate test after a certain period of time in order to monitor any changes. For this reason the structure of the participants with regard to gender, age groups and bike usage should be similar. Therefore, it is of great importance to have a sufficiently large sample size per city.

Target group of the evaluation:

  • City administrations (politicians and civil servants)

  • the general public


120,000 EUR

plus voluntary work on regional and local level

Organizations responsible for the project:

Project management:

  • Allgemeiner Deutscher Fahrrad- Club (ADFC) e.V.
    (General German Cyclists’ Club)


  • German Federal Ministry of Transport, Building and Urban Development


  • infas – Institute for applied social sciences Bonn


  • ZEG – bicycle trading cooperative society
  • Active cycling advocates from ADFC

Project term:

The 2012 survey was carried out in October and November 2012;

previous editions took place in 1988, 1991, 2003 and 2005.


Some important documents are available here:

More information (in German) is available on the website of the ADFC.

Contact person:

Project management:

Allgemeiner Deutscher Fahrrad-Club ADFC

Wilhelm Hörmann

Friedrichstraße 200
10117 Berlin

E-mail: wilhelm.hoermann@adfc.de

Phone: +49 30-2091 498-0


Poster to advertise the cycling climate test © ADFC


Questionnaire © ADFC


Poster for the awarding event and presentation of results © ADFC


Invitation for the awarding event and presentation of results © ADFC


The winner cities among cities with more than 200,000 inhabitants © BMVBS


Certificate for the best “climber” © BMVBS


All winner cities during the awarding event in Berlin © BMVBS