Work is where my bike is. Identifying windows of opportunity for bike commuting in the heart of Germany’s car industry
Sammanfattning: In Germany, country of diesel bans and postponed climate goals, the region of Baden-Württemberg, as the heart of the country’s car industry, faces especial challenges. Due to its highly car-oriented transport system and topographical structure, the region is notorious for some of the country’s worst air quality levels. In response to these issues, the regional government formulated a cycling strategy, aimed at doubling the bike’s share in the region’s modal split by 2020 – a goal that officially conceded, is not going to be reached. Since car-oriented commuter traffic contributes considerably to the problem, I applied theory of planned behaviour and mixed methods to analyse what factors determine commuters’ transport mode choices. Through my research, I deduced windows of opportunity and challenges for bikecommuting and related these to the content of Baden-Württemberg’s cycling strategy. A survey and interviews with commuters and political stakeholders revealed that the root of the problem lies in a high degree of weather exposure, as well as in a perceived low infrastructural development. This showed to be the root cause for the obstructive attitudes held by commuters about the bike, most importantly a low feeling of independence, a perceived time disadvantage, as well as a high expected accident risk and stress. Lastly, the bike’s assets – its low costs, environmental and health/ fitness benefits – fail to make an impact, due to their low relevance for commuters. The findings underline the need for infrastructure that commuters perceive as continuous and direct, on which commuters feel independent, safe, relaxed and time-efficient, something that the cycling strategy’s current standard fails to achieve. Furthermore, the need for building awareness among car drivers regarding cyclists’ safety in traffic became apparent. Overall, these findings can help to reevaluate the focus and radicality of Baden-Württemberg’s cycling strategy.
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