Drivers know it: they are stuck in traffic at the Dreieck Funkturm. On Sunday, tens of thousands of cyclists had the dubious pleasure. For the first time, they were allowed to ride the entire southern ring road to Charlottenburg at a rally organized by the General German Bicycle Club (ADFC) – and then it didn’t go any further.
From Kurfürstendamm you had to push along under the many railway bridges to the exit at the exhibition center – that was the bottleneck. Half came via the A100, the other half via the Avus. In masses, cyclists are no different than motorists in terms of traffic jams.
Drivers, however, were also stuck in traffic that day, and the westbound Kantstrasse was one single angry honking of motorists. It was easily an hour before tens of thousands of cyclists had crossed the Messedamm.
Many on Twitter complained that the media was reporting “road closures” even though so many people were out there, just on bikes and exceptionally not in cars.
It was the ADFC’s 46th rally. The motto of the demonstration this year was “Get on your bike – traffic change now”. More people have joined than in previous years, the ADFC estimated at 30,000, the police counted 25,000.
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It started very small at the ends of the Sternfahrt rays. At 6.45 a.m., for example, 100 fast cyclists set off from Frankfurt (Oder) station. Tour leader Jens Erik Geißler had only expected 50 and was in a good mood. Because in order to be in Frankfurt at that time, Berliners had to get up very early and take the train at half past five.
In Fürstenwalde, 30 cyclists joined, from then on they drove more slowly. In Erkner, 80 were added, later people stood at all intersections and waited to be picked up. In Treptow there were 750, it was the last own count.
Then it got more and more crowded. In the narrow Silbersteinstraße in Neukölln, people had to be pushed for the first time, to the annoyance of many participants, the rally was not allowed through the Britz tunnel. Police had safety concerns and have banned the route through the tunnel since 2021.
Why cyclists should be more at risk from mass panic than drivers in a pile-up was a topic of conversation for many while driving. “That’s nonsense,” said an older man. Nobody disagreed. To compensate, the police had released the entire southern ring road, and the bells rang just as beautifully and loudly in the tunnels under Innsbrucker Platz and Rathenauplatz.
“We celebrate the bicycle as a fast, healthy and climate-friendly means of transport,” announced the ADFC in advance. The star again had 18 rays, there were 80 fixed-time starting points, and a total route length of more than 1000 kilometers.
“For decades, tens of thousands of people have been fighting for better conditions for cycling at the ADFC rally,” the ADFC statement continued. Especially in the outskirts, cyclists saw how far Berlin is from a traffic turnaround, in many places there are no cycle paths. ADFC boss Frank Masurat therefore called on the Senate and districts to “finally roll out the cycle network throughout the city”.
At 5.15 a.m., a dozen cyclists set off from the Zoo train station – first by train to Frankfurt (Oder).
There the road bike tour to Berlin began at 6.45 a.m., an express route with a speed of 25 kilometers per hour.
A night tour started in Leipzig at 12:45 a.m. In Dessau it started at 3.45 a.m.
The routes coming from all directions come together in Berlin to form two main strands. One leads via the Avus from Kreuz Zehlendorf to City-West, the other via the A100 from Neukölln and Tempelhof.
Both strands come together at Dreieck Funkturm and follow the city motorway to the Kaiserdamm exit.