Fight For The Street

A visual analysis of 15699 bike accidents in Hamburg, Germany from 2011 to 2016. Using data visualization it is shown who is responsible for the accidents and what causes them. In addition, the geographical distribution is visualized.

by Manuel Reitz


The bicyle becomes an increasingly important means of transport. Cities like Copenhagen set a good example. The city of Hamburg, too, wants to become more bicycle-friendly. The senate set the goal in 2015 to increase the share of bicycle traffic to 25 percent during "the twenties".

However, it is already crowded in Hamburg, cars, trucks and cyclists are fighting for space on the streets. With a focus on motorized traffic the traffic routes are not well adapted to cyclists. That results in many accidents where cyclists are suffering, because the risk of injury is higher. In order to achieve the target and become a "cycling city" a significantly improved infrastructure is necessary in Hamburg, in particular to increase traffic safety for cyclists.


From 2012 to 2016, the Hamburg police noticed over 3,000 accidents involving cyclists per year. An analysis of the accidents with regard to the main causes shows how they came about and how they can be avoided.


Motorists are responsible for almost half of the accidents involving cyclists, for 48.4%, yet also cyclists are not innocent, they cause 39.9% of the accidents. The cases caused by trucks account for "only" 4.1%, but these cases are often particularly serious - in 36.4% of the fatal accidents, trucks are responsible.


Depending on the road user, the reasons for the accidents are different. For cars, the most common causes are: mistakes when turning (1), Disregarding the right of way regulating traffic signs (2) as well as errors when entering the moving traffic (3).

Multiple answers possible


On the other hand, accidents caused by cyclists show other causes of accidents: The use of the wrong lane (1) and ignoring traffic lights (2) are the most common reasons. There are also errors when entering the moving traffic (3) and driving under the influence of alcohol(4).

Multiple answers possible


The causes of accidents are mainly a series of driving and behavioral errors. These are different for cyclists and the other parties involved.

Select the road users to investigate the causes of the accident.


In addition to analyzing the causes, the geographical distribution of accidents is also significant. On the one hand, a general overview reveals a concentration on the inner-city districts, on the other hand focus areas can be identified in a detailed view where accidents happen particularly frequently.


The Theodor-Heuss-Platz in front of the Dammtor station, together with the street Alsterglacis and the Kennedybr├╝cke close by belongs to one of the places with the most accidents in Hamburg.

Select individual accidents to see details.


By clicking on the button you can explore the geographical distribution of the accidents yourself. Here are red-filled circles ( ) for accidents with fatalities, red-bordered circles ( ) symbolize accidents with seriously injured and white circles ( ) for the Others. Click on the accident to view the details of each case.


Bicycle mobility makes an important contribution to making cities a save place to live in. The reduction of motorized private transport helps with climate protection and ensures better air and less traffic chaos. Already since 2007, there is a "cycling strategy for Hamburg" with extensive actions, which were extended in the coalition agreement of 2015. The goals are, for example, the expansion of infrastructure, the improvement of the bicycle-friendliness and the increase in traffic safety. However, it is criticized that the plans contain little binding and no precise timetables.

With the bicycle climate test 2016 of the ADFC, in which cyclists were able to vote on how bicycle-friendly their city is, Hamburg with a grade of 4.2 only takes a sad 31st place out of 39 major German cities. The lack of counterfeit parking checks on cycle paths, poor traffic management on construction sites and the width of cycle paths were rated particularly negatively. The FDP speaks of a "sharp slap for the red-green bicycle policy". But there are also positive tendencies, the "bicycle promotion lately" performs very well compared to other cities.

Nevertheless, this clearly shows that much still has to happen. The goal of increasing the share of bicycle traffic to 25 percent over the 2020s is important and right. To achieve this, a significantly for cyclists improved infrastructure is required, in particular to increase traffic safety. Traffic accident data clearly shows that cyclists are at particular risk.

Share of bicycle accidents in all accidents and those killed,
seriously injured and slightly injured

Certainly, part of the accidents can be traced back to inadequate infrastructure and vague traffic patterns, which favors the development of accidents. According to accident researchers, there is a good legal framework, which is not applied consistently. So often the specified widths for bike paths are not respected. In addition there are bike paths in bad condition or shared paths with pedestrians or cyclists from the opposite direction. Absolutely necessary is a continuous cycling road network and a clear and understandable traffic routing. As long as the roads are mainly adapted to motorized traffic and cyclists are relegated to the remaining space, cyclists will break rules to be more efficient.

A better infrastructure protects against conflicts of road users, but of course the disregard of the traffic regulations can not be excused by this. It is necessary that road users better comply with the traffic rules, especially against the background that it is becoming increasingly crowded on the streets. In conclusion, it can be said that everyone must do their part, both road users and politics and urban planning, to make Hamburg a cycling city.