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Bicycle professorship for the University of Kassel drives traffic change forward
Bicycling is booming: scientists estimate the volume of bicycle traffic at 28 million trips per year, the traffic volume increased by 37 percent from 2002 to 2017 to 112 million passenger kilometers, and the share of bicycle traffic in all trips increased from 9 to 11 percent. All the more surprising, then, that there has not been a chair explicitly dedicated to cycling until now. This is now changing: In the future, a professorship at the University of Kassel will deal with the planning of bike paths, the linking with bus and train and the safety of cyclists and pedestrians. The Federal Ministry of Transport handed over the funding decision today (February 6) in Berlin. The funding amount approved today is just under one million euros for three years. The professorship will later be financed on a long-term basis.
In addition to cycling, it will also include e-scooters and e-bikes and look at cycling in rural areas. "In doing so, we want to know how pedestrian and bicycle traffic can best be combined with local public transport. In Kassel, we can build on a long-standing partnership between science and transport operators," explained Prof. Dr.-Ing. Carsten Sommer. He is head of the department "Transport Planning and Transport Systems" and was in charge of the application.
The President of the University of Kassel, Prof. Dr. Reiner Finkeldey, was pleased: "With this professorship, our university is expanding its profile with a highly topical sustainability issue. We expect research contributions that will be noticed nationwide and that will advance the transport turnaround. In teaching, our students will benefit from innovative and practically relevant courses. My thanks go to Prof. Dr. Carsten Sommer and his team for the successful project development."
Federal Transport Minister Andreas Scheuer said, "We are strengthening cyclists' backs! Cycling must be considered as an equal means of transport from the very beginning - whether in legislation, transport planning or innovation research. That's why we are now promoting cycling as a university subject. We are providing cyclists with allies who can use their know-how in a targeted manner on the ground and in cities and municipalities in the future. In this way, we are giving cyclists a strong voice and making the switch to cycling even more attractive."
The master's degree program "Mobility, Transport and Infrastructure" is to be established in Kassel, combining content from the engineering sciences with computer science, mathematics, law and economics. The professorship will also be involved in teaching existing bachelor's and master's degree programs in civil engineering, environmental engineering and urban planning.
Through research projects and model projects, the Cycling Professorship will contribute to the National Cycling Plan and advance the nationwide expansion of cycling. There are also strong local references - in terms of traffic, Kassel stands for the post-war principle of the car-oriented city: "Historically, urban and traffic planning in Kassel after the war were strongly influenced by this model. This led to a systematic marginalization of bicycle traffic," Sommer explains. "Recently, however, a rethinking has begun."
"In the coming years, a substantial expansion of bike lanes is on the agenda in Kassel. In addition to the conversion to a people-friendly city, the issue of traffic safety is central. This can be exemplary for the conversion in many other German cities, and this professorship will accompany and help shape this scientifically." For its application, the university has received great support from companies, public and civil society institutions and, last but not least, the city and district of Kassel. A total of 34 partners - including the two major transport associations NVV (North Hesse) and RMV (Rhine-Main) - are involved.
The university now intends to put the professorship out to tender quickly. Along with the University of Kassel, six other universities that can establish similar professorships have been selected.
Prof. Dr.-Ing. Carsten Sommer
University of Kassel
Department of Transportation Planning and Systems
Tel.: 0561 804-3381