I’ve lived in Germany, Canada, the UK, and Australia. Among other great cities, I’ve been to Berlin, Kuala Lumpur, Paris, London, New York, Venice, Florence, Ottawa and Vancouver – but there is only one city in the world I would move back to in a flash: Freiburg im Breisgau in Germany.
Freiburg is also discussed in our video from the Cycling for Sustainable Cities Austroads webinar.
Cycling in Germany and the city of Freiburg
Germany has seen a cycling boom in the last 20 years with the recognition that, after walking, bikes are the most sustainable form of transport. The cities are becoming increasingly people friendly and more people choose cycling, walking and public transport instead of driving.
Freiburg is the southernmost city of Germany and has a very mild climate. It is often referred to as Germany’s eco-city (“Ökostadt Deutschlands”). The citizens of Freiburg are known in Germany for their love of cycling and recycling.
Freiburg is a typical university town. Like in Maastricht and Utrecht in the Netherlands, you will see cyclists and bikes everywhere.
I first experienced the charm and breathtaking beauty of Freiburg and its surrounding area when I was 12 and needed to find a new school. Freiburg is a city truly built for its citizens. It had a pedestrian area long before other cities were even contemplating one.
It is a vibrant city with lots of restaurants, bars, and outdoor entertainment. And then there are the bikes and the cycling infrastructure and culture! Bikes, cyclists, and children in safe bike seats or on training wheels are everywhere. It’s a sight that makes you happy and smile.
And so I’m back in Canberra… Having experienced it first hand, and being able to imagine what our absolutely stunning city could be like, explains my motivation for writing this article.
Imagine hopping on your bike to go to the shops because it’s faster and more convenient. Imagine taking the bike to the cinema, restaurant or café because it’s cheaper and easier. Imagine grabbing the bike to visit your friend because it’s more fun. And just imagine riding to work simply because it’s good for you, because you love having your brain flooded with oxygen first thing in the morning, and because the beautiful views give you your daily dose of dopamine 😊
All this is possible. All this is absolutely achievable – especially in a sun-kissed place like Canberra… if the cycling infrastructure is fit for purpose and benchmarked… if all the paths are safe and maintained… if Canberrans drive safely and respect cyclists… if, if, if!
The next time you’re in Europe, do yourself the favour and visit Freiburg. It’s a gem and really close to France and Switzerland, and the gateway to the Black Forest.