It's not enough to nag or demand: clear political approaches are key to change

Naviki interview: Heinrich Strößenreuther

He is a bicycle rebel who works tirelessly for sustainable mobility and probably the most popular key figure of bicycle activism throughout Germany, broadly known for his razor-sharp statements. We've asked Heinrich some questions about his commitment and on how to  promote cycling in your own city. 

Naviki: In recent years, you have made quite a difference for cycling in Berlin. In a nutshell: What exactly happened there?

Heinrich Strößenreuther: After my area use campaign for more free bike paths, in summer 2015 I initiated the Bicycle Referendum Berlin. We grew up to a team of 200 dedicated bicycle engaged people, wrote Germany's first bicycle act, and within just three weeks we collected over 105,425 signatures. This political tsunami catapulted the Copenhagen-style development of bike paths by 2030 into Berlin's top political agenda. The bicycle referendum campaign expanded nationwide to initiatives in more than a dozen cities, each of them demanding safe and relaxed cyclingfrom their local policy. In February 2019, my image book "Der Berlin-Standard" (engl.: The Berlin Standard) will be published for mayors and politicians. The voucher can be purchased from December 2018. 

What three key tips do you have for dedicated people who want to give cycling a significant boost in their city?

First, set a clear, "SMART-formulated" goal on what you want to accomplish. Second, join others, find a team or do it alone if necessary. Third, just start, have fun, and when things go wrong, fall down, get up, adjust crown, and keep going.

Which pitfalls should be avoided and which less helpful strategies do you monitor?

It is not enough to just nag, to demand, to blog and to twitter. You better find the concrete political lever and approach. Concentrate on little, but follow through with it and you will succeed. Others will do the other things. And when it comes to cycling, don't be too nice, as you must persuade politicians to axe lanes for cars to get wide and safe bicycle lanes. The losers should not shout louder than the winners applaud.

Besides campaigning, what does the bike mean to you personally? Is it a prestige object, a device for fun or just an article of daily use?

All three. First of all, it's the smartest means of transport for the city, for me it should be fast and sporty and may look good as well. The bicycle referendum team gave me a blue Canyon Commuter as a present two years ago for my birthday. It's perfect and has almost everything.

Thank you Heinrich!

About Heinrich Strößenreuther

Heinrich Strößenreuther is an experienced Manager and CEO with a history of working in public transportation and the management consulting industry as well as in sustainability projects in NGOs, startups, and politics. Heinrich has a clear answer when it comes to challenges regarding climate, mobility, and liveable cities: boosting cycling and sustainable mobility politics by setting media agendas, triggering discussions and developing solutions.  


Naviki interviews

Interviews with interesting people who have a special relation to cycling.