“We want to bring about a shift in awareness with PendlerRatD,” he said, describing the goal of the initiative, which since 2019 aims to bring more and more commuters on bicycles in two pilot phases. Since even electric cars did not change the fundamental problems, they required the same parking and driving space as combustion engines. “We want to motivate drivers to change and remove obstacles.” That’s why his initiative lends e-bikes for a month for “test commuting”. The approach is very simple: “Once you try it, you will follow it”.
The transition is made easier by the “supplied” app, which not only lists the benefits in the form of savings or increased fitness, but also shows the optimal route, but also more scenic routes if desired – because, according to the experience, “with E-bikes people are also willing to make detours”. The app is meant to bundle the whole process for commuters, Heimel summed up. “Motivate, plan, pedal, report, reward”: these steps constitute the pillars of PendlerRatD and the related user software for smartphones.
The month of action is in progress
The data collected by the professor and her project team in the previous pilot phases from the metropolitan areas of Stuttgart and Heilbronn are “giants”: “We had 278 test cyclists. Of these, 85 percent want to continue commuting by bike. “A third of them have already bought their e-bikes, while the rest are playing with the idea of making a major purchase. Where costs play a part. an important role. Heimel therefore relies on the support of employers who could use financing models such as leasing to support employees in the purchase. With the follow-up project, which will run until mid-2024 and also includes Ludwigshafen , PendlerRatD wants to put another 200 bicycle commuters in the saddle.
The conditions for this are positive, as a survey has shown. The data of the 576 participants has not yet been scientifically assessed definitively and, at 52 per cent, the car is still the main means of transport in this cohort. But the bikes are right behind them at 21 percent. “This is an incredibly high number that hasn’t been reached anywhere before,” said the cycling activist happily.
The reasons for this may lie in the time of the survey: Corona and fuel prices have already led to an afterthought. However, it could also be the effects of BASF’s active approach and the municipal administration as large employers who convinced employees to switch modes of transport. That’s why Jana Heimel and the VCD hope to get even more commuters to change trains during the campaign month in Ludwigshafen. Because another result runs through all the polls: “Cyclists are the happiest commuters”.
Animation for trial cycling
Employees who travel daily from their place of residence to their workplace in a city travel primarily by car. Traffic director Alexander Thewalt (independent) wants to persuade commuters to switch to bicycles. At the opening event of the cycling test Friday night in the city library, he rated the percentage of commuters by car to be 65 to 70 percent. The head of the Ludwigshafen Department of Construction, Environment, Transport and Waste in the chemical city wants to change things.
According to Thewalt, he has been a member of Verkehrsclub Deutschland (VCD) for nearly 40 years. In June the project moves to Neustadt on the Wine Route.
In the university city of Heidelberg, where the head of the transport department lives with his family, 33 percent of Heidelbergers’ trips to their area are by bicycle. The keen cyclist informed Ludwigshafen that it was only twelve percent. But as far as commuters are concerned, neighboring towns hardly differ. So far, commuters have mostly traveled by car everywhere. For Thewalt, this is an incentive to pay special attention to this group in order to significantly reduce car traffic in cities. Trial cycling offers a lot of potential for this. Especially since three-quarters of the project participants are BASF employees, according to the department head.
Thewalt believes it’s not just cities that benefit if there are fewer cars on the streets. Because that would mean less noise and less air pollution. This would also give employers more freedom and lower costs. Why would they have to offer less parking if most of their employees came to work by bicycle. Furthermore, the space thus freed up could be used, for example, for the necessary extensions. Many companies are looking for land to expand.