A smile says more than a thousand words

Positive bike vibes in Hamburg

Positive bike vibes in Hamburg More good humour on the way from A to B

Every kilometre travelled by bicycle means fewer cars on Hamburg's roads, thus less congestion and bad air. At the same time, we are doing something for our health and because exercise releases a good load of happy hormones, cycling also puts us in a good mood. All this makes cycling the most solidarity-based method of transport we can imagine.

© Fahr ein solidarisches Hamburg

Many Hamburg residents are aware of this; from 2019 to 2022, cycling traffic in Hamburg increased by 23 percent, and in the Corona year 2020 it even rose by 33 percent. Although the expansion of the cycling infrastructure in Hamburg in general and the cycle routes in particular is progressing steadily, the large number of cyclists on Hamburg's roads is making it increasingly crowded. This increases the potential for conflict with pedestrians, car drivers and other cyclists.

In order to maintain the joy of cycling and to put a smile on everyone's face, Hamburg has launched a number of campaigns, two of which we would like to introduce to you. The first campaign is "Hamburg says thank you".

© Fahr ein solidarisches Hamburg

During the corona pandemic, cycling was particularly important for health because distance and clean air are the best means against infections. Because all cyclists made Hamburg an even better place to live with every kilometre they cycled during this time, the city thanked them on 19 September 2020 with a 100-metre-long inscription on the Alster cycle path between Fontenay and Alte Rabenstraße.

The lettering consisted of personal compliments to individual cyclists submitted by Hamburg residents a few weeks beforehand and sprayed on the cycle path with chalk spray. Over the following weeks, the chalk was gradually washed away by the rain, so we repeat it once again: Thank you!

Hamburg's second thank you to all cyclists was the "Smiling Intersection": From 2 to 6 May 2021, the Haller Straße/Beim Schlump/Grindelallee intersection was transformed into Hamburg's first smiling intersection on the occasion of World Laughter Day. Attention-grabbing advertisements and smiling smileys on advertising pillars, electricity boxes, digital advertising spaces, two HOCHBAHN buses and bicycle taxis around the busy intersection called on all Hamburg residents to smile. Smiling is not only an expression of empathy, it also lowers stress levels and makes cycling even healthier.

And we can make use of this even without lettering and posters. With small gestures like a smile, we can make cycling and traffic in general in Hamburg even more solidary. Because the friendlier cycling is, the more people feel safe enough to switch from car to bike. And if more and more cars disappear from Hamburg's streets, we can turn more parking spaces and lanes into bicycle lanes, playgrounds and green oases. When we think about that, we can really only smile, can't we?

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© Copyright by Susanne Krieg

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