We frequently receive recurring questions via social media or through conversations, so we have compiled answers to the most common questions for you all here. This list will most likely expand over the coming months. If you can’t find the answer to your question(s), feel free to write to us at email@example.com or come to one of our consultation hours.
General Questions About the Project
1 | What is the difference between the “Radbahn” and “Reallabor Radbahn”?
Radbahn Berlin describes the vision developed by paper planes e.V. in 2014 of an approximately nine-kilometer-long cycling path located partly under, partly alongside the U1 subway line, from Bahnhof Zoo to the Oberbaumbrücke, which will contribute to the development of a high-quality urban space.
Since 2019, the concept has been further developed by a slightly different team as “Reallabor Radbahn”, which is a publicly funded project that will run until the end of 2023. It will present the Radbahn to Berliners on a small scale, specifically in the form of a participatory test site in a real urban environment. At the same time, it will serve as a basis for decision-making related to the construction of the entire Radbahn.
2 | When will the full 9 km Radbahn become reality?
Unfortunately, this is not yet foreseeable, since planning and approval phases in the area of traffic and urban planning take a very long time and depend on political constellations. The Radbahn will run through three different districts: Friedrichshain-Kreuzberg, Schöneberg-Tempelhof and Charlottenburg-Wilmersdorf. Building it will involve a complex interplay between authorities and actors who have different interests and political agendas.
In recent years, individual district offices have demonstrated a great deal of political will to quickly implement the transition to more sustainable forms of transport through the Mobility Act—this gives us cause for hope.
However, we have already taken the first important step, simply by launching an ambitious and innovative idea. The Reallabor Radbahn project will serve as a real-world lab, in which we will approach our large-scale vision through small-scale interventions and thus develop the implementation of the entire route in small sections. This way, the Radbahn can be tried, tested, and implemented piece by piece without having to wait for all the affected districts to agree on an overall strategy.
3 | What will happen between now and 2023?
In the winter of 2019, the “Reallabor Radbahn” project received funding as part of the federal program Nationale Projekte des Städtebaus (National Urban Development Projects). This makes it possible for us to develop the original idea further and to make the Radbahn tangible. The project is supported by various studies and involves the construction of a test site as well as various communicative and participatory formats. With the funding, we were able to establish a gUG (a legal form for non-project projects) and become more professional in terms of expertise and personnel. We regularly publish project information and updates in our newsletter and on our website under "News & Dates".
4 | Who is funding the project?
The federal government (namely the Federal Institute for Research on Building, Urban Affairs and Spatial Development, BBSR for short) and the state of Berlin (in this case the Senate Department for Urban Development and Housing) are supporting the “Reallabor Radbahn” project until the end of 2023 as part of the federal program Nationale Projekte des Städtebaus (National Projects in Urban Development). More information on the funding program can be found here.
5 | How is the funding used?
The grant funds we received are bound by conditions regarding how they may or must be spent. The purpose of the grant is to carry out a potential and risk analysis that will be used to prepare, set up and evaluate a test site underneath the U1 subway viaduct and to further plan the entire route (among other things). A critical review and revision of the current Radbahn concept will take place with the help of citizen participation formats and detailed investigations by external service providers. All project findings and results will be compiled in a brochure that will serve as a list of criteria for how similar projects can be implemented in other communities or contexts.
6 | Why is it taking so long to implement the Radbahn?
Rome wasn’t built in a day and the same applies to the Radbahn, because the project isn’t just about cutting a passable path under the subway viaduct with the help of an asphalt milling machine. Contrary to its name, the Radbahn is much more than just a bike path. The Radbahn is about more than “just” mobility and traffic systems. As a national urban development project, we are far more concerned with the question of how a redistribution and redesign of the area under the viaduct can create an increased quality of stay at the site. To meet this objective, a functional concept is needed and working this out takes time.
P l a n n i n g c o m e s b e f o r e c o n s t r u c t i o n
The function of the street space is reconsidered and its potential is assessed with regard to the requirements of different user groups. Studies are carried out for this purpose. We follow strict protocols: The services to be provided in the studies are first subjected to an invitation to tender, various service providers apply, and the most convincing offer is awarded the contract. Only then can the real work begin—and these kinds of studies take an average of four to six months.
V a r i o u s a c t o r s a n d s t a k e h o l d e r s
Many hands and heads are involved in the Radbahn project. The team is developing the concept in close consultation with the responsible district office, senate administrations, and the federal government. In addition, citizens play a decisive role, because we facilitate a constructive dialogue with them through information campaigns and events. These negotiations must all be well prepared in order to guarantee successful cooperation.
7 | Who is involved in the project?
The core team of Reallabor Radbahn holds the strings of the project and coordinates the cooperation with, among others:
- several senate administrations
- the district office of Friedrichshain-Kreuzberg
- service providers such as Urban Catalyst, who are helping us with the potential and risk analysis, and WAALD, who are advising us on the strategic orientation or Converplan and are doing the detailed traffic planning for us.
- neighborhood initiatives
[this list is by no means complete and will be updated throughout the project period]
Construction and Traffic-Related Questions
8 | Is the Radbahn part of the planned bicycle highways in Berlin?
Bicycle highways are primarily intended for commuters and experienced cyclists and must meet very specific quality requirements in order to enable safe travel at high speeds. The Radbahn was never intended to be a high-speed bike connection.
From a technical point of view, this would also be difficult to achieve: Due to its central location within the city, there are a large number of intersections with waiting times and not all parts of the route have a width of at least four meters, which is required for a two-directional cycling track.
On the Radbahn, the speed of travel is not key. Instead, we rather take advantage of the limitations of the route and promote attentive mobility and mutual respect. People of all ages should be able to travel on the Radbahn in a relaxed and safe manner and feel a sense of deceleration. This newly created urban environment should be experienced—not rushed past.
9 | What do you plan to do with the pigeons that live under the viaduct?
Our goal is to think beyond the Radbahn and develop urban space as farsightedly and sustainably as possible. In big cities like Berlin, this also includes a conscious approach to the wild animals that live in cities.
There are many pigeons in the openings below the viaduct, many of which are injured or sick due to incorrect feeding or traffic accidents. It is clear that the Radbahn can only work as a bike park and newly developed urban space if we also find an ecologically sound solution for the pigeons.
Even though we are primarily a cycling project, we want to use this opportunity to get the ball rolling for the development of a pigeon concept in our test site area. For this purpose, we are in talks with pigeon protection initiatives, Friends of the Earth Germany (BUND)and the animal protection officer of the Berlin Senate, as well as the green space office of the district Friedrichshain-Kreuzberg.
10 | Isn’t the space between the pillars underneath the viaduct too narrow for cycling?
The distance between the pillars of the Radbahn is usually 3 meters at the narrowest point (e.g. along Gitschiner Strasse) and 4.50 meters at the widest point (along Bülowstrasse).
According to the implementation regulations for sidewalks and bike lanes for Berlin, the standard width for bi-directional bike lanes is 2.50 meters. In the “Recommendations for bicycle traffic facilities ERA 2010” published by the Road and Transportation Research Association (FGSV), the standard width for bi-directional bicycle lanes with two-sided guidance is 2.50 meters. For one-way traffic, the standard width is 3 meters. In addition to the cycling path widths, a safety distance of 25 centimeters must be considered on the sides between the path and fixed installations.
Accordingly, a total width of 3 meters would be sufficient and a width of 3.50 meters more than adequate.
11 | Why is the Radbahn even necessary? There are already bike lanes and paths along Skalitzer Strasse...
The Radbahn was always thought to be complementary to the existing bike facilities on the sides of the road. However, many of those cycling paths are in a very poor condition, structurally not separated from moving traffic, and congested at certain times of the day. The newly created pop-up bike lanes have improved the bike infrastructure, but not entirely solved all the issues. With the Radbahn, we want to create additional space where people can ride a bike safely and be protected from the weather at all times. There are many people who would like to ride a bike if it were safer. The conditions created by the Radbahn will hopefully encourage more people to ride.
12 | ow will subway station exits, intersections, and crosswalks be managed? Will there be traffic lights to allow other road users to cross the Radbahn?
Detailed thoughts and planning concepts on this can be found in sections of the Radbahn book.
13 | Where will the test site be located and why was that site chosen?
The test site is situated between Görlitzer Bahnhof and Kottbusser Tor in the Berlin district of Friedrichshain-Kreuzberg. This district is managed by a very proactive district authority and is pioneering in terms of bicycle traffic.
Our intention was to choose a location with high urban density and heterogeneous adjacent infrastructure, so that we could more easily measure the effects of the Radbahn. The population structure around the test site is very diverse and active, which is why we expect this section of the route to raise the greatest challenges and honest opposition. If we manage to develop a concept together with the residents that responds to local needs, this would be the greatest success for the Radbahn.
14 | When will construction on the test site start and how long will it take? When will the test site be opened?
As Reallabor Radbahn, we are vigorously working with various cooperation partners to agree on a definitive date to realize our test site. As you can imagine, this is a complex undertaking.
We do not take decisions independently since we work within a constellation of actors, including Berlin's public utilities, Stromnetz Berlin, the BVG, the monument protection authority, district offices, senate administrations and animal protection associations. This entails a great deal of coordination, such as what the bike lane is and can be in the future. Numerous time dependencies here for approvals, authorizations, and feedback exist within a funding period that is clearly defined and limited. It is a great challenge to reconcile these differing time perspectives. Working as a real-world laboratory(Reallabor) brings with it the need for flexibility. We plan in scenarios and exhaust all possibilities to create a space for fun and experimentation that characterizes our project.
As soon as we know for sure, we will communicate this information. However, the first events will definitely take place at other locations before then. (Check the "News & Dates" section of our website or subscribe to the Reallabor newsletter to stay informed.)
15 | What will the test site actually test?
Over several hundred meters, you can experience what is possible between the pillars. Here, we will test a bike path in the center of the road, including the necessary traffic engineering sys
tems and off- and on-ramps. In addition, certain construction elements such as cycling path coatings, lighting, digital information systems, street furniture and green zones will be examined and assessed in relation to their contribution to an increased sense of safety and perception of space. We are pursuing the goal of creating an experiential space and directing the focus on the open urban space. We thus want to activate the space below the viaduct and show how flexible it is. It is about spatial justice in traffic and the activation of urban public space, which should be divided fairly among the different groups of users.
16 | What will happen to the test site after the end of the project?
The structural and technical components of the Radbahn will remain in place after the end of the project, so that the route will be guaranteed to be rideable. Elements that are not well received, prove too costly to maintain, or do not fulfill the planned purpose will be dismantled and reused in other projects organized by paper planes e.V. if necessary.
17 | How many parking spaces will be removed as part of the test area?
Approximately 70 parking spaces will be converted into one space for everyone.
Support & Additional Information
18 | How can I voice my opinion about the project?
We want people along the route and especially in the vicinity of the test site to participate in the creation and design of the Radbahn. To this end, we are developing various participatory formats on the ground and online. Over the next few months, we will regularly invite you to events and interactive online sessions where you can get informed, contribute your own proposals and ideas, talk to others and jointly develop a sustainable urban space for eco-mobility. We provide information about upcoming participatory opportunities on our website, our social media channels and in our newsletter.
19 | How can I support the “Reallabor Radbahn” project?
Reallabor Radbahn is a (limited liability) non-profit entrepreneurial company (gUG) that receives funding from public funds. Thus, unfortunately, we cannot accept money from third parties, including donations. Instead, we appreciate any form of emotional, social and promotional support, be it by sharing our posts on social media, word of mouth or just a friendly wave when you pass our office. In addition, if you feel like helping us pro bono, for example with campaign posters, building street furniture or translating texts into another language, feel free to contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org .
20 | Where and how can I find out about the test site and the current state of affairs?
We try to be as transparent as possible about our work and events. The latest information can be found on this website, in our newsletter and on social media (see the social media icons at the bottom of this page). In addition, we offer regular meetings and discussion formats where you can directly get in contact with the Radbahn team members and share your questions and comments. In case of urgent questions, we can also be reached at short notice via email@example.com erreichbar.
21 | Is information available in languages other than German?
Operating in a multicultural and multilingual place like Berlin makes it difficult to inform all interested parties equally about the project. Unfortunately, it is not possible for us to translate all of our content into a large number of languages. As a matter of principle, we are bilingual and offer all our talks and information material in German and English. Our project flyer is available in German, English, Arabic, Turkish and Russian.