The Popularity and History of Cycling in Germany


The Popularity and History of Cycling in Germany

This week, Freewheel Holidays are offering a whopping £50 off per person on our Berlin Lakes cycling holiday - one of our absolute favourites! So we thought it best to examine and celebrate the country that has given so much to cycling. And cycling has certainly given it back!...

As one of the more countrified and picturesque countries in all of Europe, it should be no surprise that Cycling in Germany has long been an ideal choice of those looking to squeeze in their daily dose of calorie-burning exercise and discover some truly unique and inspiring views at the same time. At Freewheel Holidays, we like to think we know a thing or two about cycling in Germany, which is why some of our best cycling holidays are set in the gorgeous country.

But the Germans’ love affair with cycling goes much deeper than simply soaking up the landscape… Here are a few things you might not know about cycling in Germany and the relationship between the historic country and the sport we all know and love.

Given just how many cycling-suitable paths and roads the Germans have to work with, it makes all the sense in the world that Germany stands as one of the most cycling-centric countries not just in Europe, but the entire world.

A census taken in 2019 showed that approximately 80% of German citizens cycle regularly. That’s a HUGE number! And is made up of a combination of cycling in Germany for leisure and as a mode of transport to and from the workplace. The same study showed that German people are more likely now than ever to utilize their bikes for journeys that are 15km or less, vastly decreasing the number of car journeys German’s as a whole are taking each and every year.

As you can imagine, this is expected to have a drastic effect on the country’s overall carbon emissions and, in the wake of the 2020 COVID Pandemic, greenhouse gas emissions coming from major German cities are said to be at the lowest they’ve been in decades. Here’s hoping the popularity of cycling in Germany continues to grow!

Not a lot of people know this, but there’s a very strong argument to be made that the very first bicycle was in fact invented in the land of beer and bratwurst! 

Prolific German inventor Karl Drais was the creator of the Laufmaschine, later abbreviated to the “Hobbyhorse.” It was the first major indication of the formation of what we know as the bicycle today! All the essentials were there: Handlebars, Saddle, two-wheels, all in play.

The only difference? No pedals! The original bicycle in this form was pushed onwards simply by using the power of your own two legs, propelled against the ground below. It might look a little childish nowadays (in fact you often see young children using this method whilst still getting used to using pedals for the first time) but it was very much the fashion back in the day!

Take a look at the one and only Buster Keaton - legend of cinema - riding a Laufmaschine in one of his films!

 These Hobbyhorses or ‘Dandyhorses’ might not have been the ultimate transport invention that the actual bicycle turned out to be, but that doesn’t mean they aren’t still appreciated; There are several events and festivals dedicated to cycling in Germany which still see enthusiastic cyclists and history-lovers don the Laufmaschine and head off on a truly traditional German travelling adventure… 19th-century attire and all! 

In more modern terms, you’ll often see several German names competing at the highest levels in the world of professional cycling, taking on world-famous events like the Tour de France, the Giro D’Italia and many more.

So, as you can see, Germany more than most other counties is knees-deep into its love affair with Cycling. This is just one of the countless reasons the country makes for such a can’t-miss cycling holiday destination!

Whether you’re looking to discover the very best of Germany’s great cities like Berlin and Cologne, or want to sample some of the more set-back, countrified places like the exquisite Bavarian Lakes or sensational Dresden, there’s something to tickle every cyclist’s fancy in the land of Germany!

To take a look at our full collection of cycling holidays in Germany, hit the link here. 

Or to take advantage of this week’s special offer, click here!

We can’t wait to help you find your perfect German cycling holiday adventure.

Auf Wiedersehen!