Cheeky installation in Bremen , Source: Moritz Kindler / Unsplash

Which are Germany’s most cycling-friendly cities?

Which are Germany’s most cycling-friendly cities?

According to the German Bicycle Club, rural areas and small towns are lagging behind in the mobility turnaround

On Monday, the German Bicycle Club (Allgemeiner Deutscher Fahrrad-Club) published the results of their once in two years study on the state of cycling in the country. This is one of the largest cycling surveys in the world and it gives a detailed picture of the state of cycling, looking at infrastructure and satisfaction in 1,114 cities and towns.

According to the survey, Bremen was the most cycling-friendly major city (over 500,000 inhabitants) in the country, followed closely by Frankfurt and Hanover. However, researchers also say that cycling satisfaction has been declining because of rural areas, which could adopt the practice quite easily but have not.

Traffic turnaround in rural areas is lagging  

A very interesting facet of the survey is that it uses the German school grade system which goes from 1 to 6 to rate different parts of the cycling experience, with 1 being the highest and 5 and 6 being a failure. With that in mind, the survey found that the overall national cycling score in 2022 was 3.96, down from 3.93 in 2020.

Major cities with more than 500,000 inhabitants showed a slight improvement with the promotion of cycling as well as the increased public cycling offers from rentals, as well as more bike parking. At the same time, rural areas which are naturally primed to be well suited for cycling due to less busy roads performed dismally in the assessment.

Except for Wettringen, a small town with under 20,000 inhabitants, which scored the highest overall rating with a 2.0, most rural areas’ ratings show that not much is happening for cycling, according to researchers.

Yet, despite the poor infrastructure, more Germans are willing to cycle. The survey showed that in 2022 49% of respondents would get on their bike for cost reasons, compared to just 33% in 2020. That shift is even more evident in smaller towns with fewer than 20,000 inhabitants, where it increased from 24% to 43%.

Grading German cities for bike-friendliness

Here are the best-scoring cities in each category:

  • Bremen (grade 3.6) has the best cycling climate among major cities with over 500,000 inhabitants. Frankfurt (3.6) and Hanover (3.6) are close behind in second and third place respectively.
  • Münster (grade 3.0) takes first place cities with over 200,000 inhabitants. Karlsruhe (3.1) and Freiburg im Breisgau (3.1) are right behind.
  • Erlangen (grade 3.2) is the most cycling-friendly city with over 100,000 inhabitants, followed by Göttingen (3.5) and Darmstadt (3.6).
  • Nordhorn (grade 2.8) took the title in cities with over 50,000 inhabitants, followed by Bocholt (3.1) and Tübingen (3.1).
  • Baunatal (grade 2.5) is at the top in cities with over 20,000 inhabitants, followed by Meckenheim (2.6) and Coesfeld (3.0).
  • Wettringen (grade 2.0) takes first place in the class with up to 20,000 inhabitants. Reken (2.4) and Rutesheim (2.5) were in second and third place.



Growing City


Smart City


Green City


Social City


New European Bauhaus




ECP 2021 Winner TheMayorEU