Research studies

The 1987 Berlin bicycle crash study,
Verkehrsunfälle mit Radfahrern

The 1987 Berlin Police Department study of bicycle crashes is notable for its importance in dispelling the myth of improved safety for bicyclists on sidewalk-type bicycle facilities ("sidepaths", "cycle tracks", or in German, "Radwege" -- a word which generically refers to all bikeways, but in the Berlin study refers only to those alongside urban streets like sidewalks). The study and related documents are now available here in English, as well as the original German. The Berlin police study continues to be relevant and important in countries where sidepaths are constructed and mandatory sidepath laws are imposed.

The study and related documents were examined for the the ADFC (German Bicycle Federation) by Tilman Bracher. You may read Bracher's 1987 review, as PDF documents in English translation ... und auf deutsch .

Bracher comments on the police study  as of 2007 (personal correspondence), indicating that is lessons have been heeded in Germany:

(auch auf deutsch):

It's been a long time since the 1987 police study came out; nobody talks about it here any more. The problems with sidepath placement leading to crashes at intersections and driveways are known to police and planners in Berlin, and the knowledge has spread. I don't know of any current study with this focus. The ADFC and the Grüne Radler [another bicyclists' orgnization] made the problems with sidepaths well-known. Bikeways are now, as a rule, planned as bike lanes on the roadway, or bicyclists ride in mixed traffic. Many sidepaths have been removed. We are on the way to make the new planning that started with the police study mainstream.

...I hope that America will look to Europe not only concerning bicycle traffic, but also land use/density. The bicycle can become mainstream only in densely-populated areas.

The Berlin Police study itself:

Auf deutsch --

Der Bericht Verkehrsunfälle mit Radfahrern mit allen Anlagen ist hier auf deutsch erhältlich, in einer PDF-Datei (radfahrer1.pdf, 3.6 MB) abgetasteter Bilder der Seiten der 1987er Auflage der Grünen Radler Berlin.

[The entire report is presented here in the original German  as a single 3.6 MB PDF file of page scans of the 1987 publication by the Grüne Radler Berlin.]

Now in English translation

I [John S.Allen] have translated the report into English, here in its entirety, but divided into four sections:

Frontmatter (berlinfrontmatter.pdf), comprising the cover, introduction and commentary by the Grüne Radler Berlin (Berlin Green Bicyclists):

The text of the report (Berlin5.pdf) with my comments on questions raised by the report and on translation issues. The page numbering is the same as in the original German, for purposes of comparison (and for this reason, there is extra space at the bottom of some pages.) This file includes links to the tables of data published with the report (important note -- see below);

Newspaper articles (Berlin media reports.pdf) included in the Grüne Radler's published version

The tables of data (Tables/index.html) included with the report, with English translations. This material is formatted as an HTML photo gallery, as optical character recognition would have been too error-prone with photocopied tables of numbers. The index pages of the gallery link to 15 tables each. Conveniently, tables 31 through 44 (for streets with sidepaths) correspond exactly to tables 46 through 59 (for streets without sidepaths), at the same locations on adjacent index pages. To preserve linking if you copy the report to another location, copy the Tables subfolder into the same folder as the file Berlin5.pdf.


The Grüne Radler Berlin, for permission to republish their material on the Internet

John Franklin, for providing copies of the report and of supplementary materials referring to it.

Jon Niehof, for scanning the pages of the report so they could be stored and reproduced online.

Tilman Bracher, for his examination and commentaries shedding light on the report.

Fräulein Rosalie Lephardt, Herr Professor Doktor Werner Neuse, Dr. M. Kimberly Sparks, Herr Thomas Huber and all the other instructors with whom I had the opportunity to learn to read and write German!

Thanks to all --John S. Allen

And a couple more Berlin thoughts --

"Ich bin ein Berliner" --

USA-Präsident John F. Kennedy, June 26, 1961

[ Ja, ich weiß, damit sagte er, er wäre ein Brötchen...:-) ]

[In the German language, many foods are named for cities where they originated or are popular: "wiener" and "frankfurter" have made their way into English. President Kennedy actually said "I am a jelly donut." If he had known German better , he would have said only "Ich bin Berliner". He was very warmly received by the huge crowd that came to listen to him speak, in spite of this little gaffe.]

"Mr. Gorbachev, tear down this wall"

USA-Präsident Ronald Reagan, June 12, 1987

The wall came down, with Mr. Gorbachev's quiet assent but at the hands of Germans...