Berlin - The number of bicycle accidents in Berlin has decreased slightly this year, new figures show. In the period from January to July, 4,256 accidents were reported compared to 4,468 in the same period last year, according to Berlin's interior ministry, which responded to a query by independent parliamentarian Marcel Luthe.

Twenty-nine per cent of the cyclists were uninjured, 62 per cent suffered minor injuries and nine per cent were seriously injured. Twelve cyclists have died in accidents so far this year – only six cyclists died in all of last year.

So far this year, Mitte has led the statistics, as it did last year. Sixteen per cent of all bicycle accidents happened there – after 20 per cent in 2019. Friedrichshain-Kreuzberg follows in second place, with 14 per cent, level with 2019. Pankow follows in third place with Reinickendorf, Marzahn-Hellersdorf and Spandau having the fewest accidents.

"The increase in accidents in recent years as well as the accident hot spots in the Green-governed districts of Mitte and Friedrichshain-Kreuzberg should alarm us in the interest of the accident victims," Marcel Luthe told Berliner Zeitung. Luthe said the Greens' "confrontational road policy ... is the wrong path to take and is costing human lives."

Cyclists partially to blame?

Meanwhile, Berlin Police Commissioner Barbara Slowik has suggested introducing mandatory licence plates for bicycles, which she says could be a useful tool for police when investigating accidents, or remind road users to be more conscious of their actions when on the move.

As her reason for the proposal, she cites the growing number of hit-and-run accidents caused by both drivers and cyclists alike.

"In the case of complaints, serious offences and above all serious consequences, I think that this can be a very important aspect," Slowik told the Berliner Morgenpost. "We are observing an increasing aggressiveness in road traffic, including among cyclists."

Berlin police chief Barbara Slowik thinks mandatory licence plates for bikes could play a useful role in police investigations of road accidents.
Photo: DAVIDS/Sven Darmer

She also stressed that more than half of all accidents involving cyclists are caused by cyclists themselves. She said all road users should be aware of those in a weaker position than themselves at all times: car drivers should look out for cyclists, cyclists should look out for pedestrians.

"We have to think about how  we can counteract this," Slowik said. "In light of the complaints we receive from pedestrians, mandatory licence plates for cyclists would at least be worth considering."

The CDU supports the initiative. Oliver Friederici, transport policy spokesman for the CDU group in Berlin’s parliament, said on Monday: "Interior Minister Geisel should support a nationwide regulation." He added that the common goal must be "to hold those cyclists to account who violate traffic rules or behave aggressively toward others". The identification policy could promote "safety and mutual consideration in traffic."

The bicycle club ADFC (Allgemeiner Deutscher Fahrrad-Club) opposes the idea, at least in part because of the high administrative costs.

This article was adapted for the English edition by Elizabeth Rushton.