The hilly city of Stuttgart – with “altitude differences of up to 300 meters between the city center and its surrounding suburbs” — does not attract many bicycling commuters. Rather, it is renowned as the “cradle of the automobile” with the likes of Daimler AG, Porsche and Bosch being headquartered there. That aside, its Mayor Wolfgang Schuster announced during the Cities for Mobility Conference in June 2008, that his city wants to also be the international pilot city for electrically assisted bicycles or simply, a pedelec city.
The city is not entirely new to these two-wheelers as ExtraEnergy, the nonprofit organization for light vehicles, has been championing to increase pedelec awareness as well as riders in German cities nationwide. Their promotions are varied, such as the “Test IT” obstacle tracks of sorts for would-be testers; best practice publications and activities; and, its tie up with the EU initiative “PRESTO” (Promoting Cycling for Everyone as a Daily Transport Mode).
A little funding goes a long way
When Germany announced its economic stimulus package “Konjukturpaket II” in June 2009, the greater Stuttgart region (with 40 communities in partnership) was singled out as one of eight “model regions for e-mobility” to share €115 million ($153 million) federal funds to implement their electric transport projects between June 2009 and 2011. The government’s target is to have one million e-vehicles on the country’s roads by 2020. This region has set its goal of at least 10% share “of the one million” or 100,000 e-vehicles by then.
Not long after that, the city was co-winner in the national “Innovative Public Bike Rental Schemes” competition for which it was awarded €2.7 million ($3.6 million) federal funds. These resources went towards its Call A Bike Pedelec initiative — a joint effort with DB Rent GmbH — that extends the existing bike rental system (started in 2007), to include pedelecs. Since getting off the starting block in March 2010, there are now 480 pedelecs available for rent at 120 rental stations.
Just as other e-vehicle pilot projects have also been — defined, put into motion and further refined — we can expect to hear more pedelec and ebike roll-outs for 2011.
Further afield, Stuttgart is also involved with other European nations like Austria, the Czech Republic, Hungary, Italy and the Netherlands on the EU-financed “Go Pedelec” project, in focusing on pedelecs as a way towards sustainability targets for the continent. We will be watching closely as this pedelec city unfolds in the coming year.