1. Münster main station, with bicycles
2. Main station with one of the entrances to the bicycle station
3. Upstairs in the Regional Express train from Münster to Mönchengladbach
I went to Münster on a direct ICE train (InterCityExpress) from Frankfurt am Main, with stops at Frankfurt Airport, Mainz, Koblenz, Bonn, Cologne, Wuppertal, Hagen, and Dortmund.
This is the scenic route up the Rhine River Valley and takes over four hours, but there are also faster connections via the new high-speed route if you don't mind changing trains once or twice.
I left Münster on a Regional Express train headed for Mönchengladbach (third photo).
Münster is known as Germany’s capital of bicycles. The landscape in Northern Germany is mostly flat and perfect for biking. Münster was one of the first cities that adjusted its traffic planning to bikes more than cars. The huge underground “bike station” next to the train station offers secure parking, rental bikes, repairs and service.
To truly experience Münster, rent a bike and explore the city and its surroundings on two wheels.
The city is full of bikes. Finding parking can be a problem…
As a pedestrian, take care not to be run over. Cyclists are everywhere, they are fast and approach silently.
For more detailed information about biking in Münster, see the Münster page by VT cycling expert Nemorino…
1. Inside a Münster bus
2. Bus near the station, advertising clean electricity
3. Cyclists and a bus
Münster has no trams (streetcars), but a very good bus system with frequent connections and state-of-the-art information screens.
Nonetheless, only 10.4% of trips within the city are done by bus or local trains. The reason for this low percentage is that potential bus riders mostly prefer to go by bicycle instead.
29.6% drive cars and 6.7% are passengers in cars -- so you don't need a computer to figure out that most of the cars only have one person in them. That single person occupies over ten times as much public space as cyclist would occupy, and over thirty-three times as much space as a bus rider.
The city of Münster made this comparison in one of its publications:
Bicycle: If 72 people are transported on 72 bicycles, they would occupy 90 square meters.
Car: Based on an average occupancy of 1.2 people per car, 60 cars are needed to transport 72 people, which takes 1,000 square meters.
Bus: 72 people can be transported on 1 bus, which only requires 30 square meters of space and no permanent parking space, since it can be parked elsewhere.
But of course (my comment) all 72 people on the bus have to be going in the same direction, so for flexibility nothing beats a bicycle.
As I have mentioned before (for instance in one of my Paris tips), one of the things I really enjoy is cycling home at night after the opera.
I do this quite regularly in Frankfurt am Main, of course, and I try to do it in most of the places I visit, as long as I can rent a bicycle that I can keep overnight.
In Münster lots of people ride around at night on their bicycles, so you won't feel lonely.
Other cities sometimes decide against investing in bicycle routes on the grounds that they will be used only when the weather is good, but the experience in Münster does not support this argument. The city proudly points out that its main cycling routes are "cleared of snow and ice every day in winter" and are used by a substantial number of cyclists all year round, and on rainy days as well.
As you can see from the photos on my other tips, most of the bicycles used here are not stripped-down racing bikes, but have fenders, mud guards and lights so they can be used in any weather and at any time of day or night.
GPS 51°57'41.78" North; 7°37'39.62" East
At the bicycle station they also have bicycles for rent, including tandem bikes and bicycle trailers for children.
I didn't rent a bike here, because I had one from the Youth Guest House where I was staying, but the rental price at the bicycle station is EUR 7.50 per calendar day, reduced to 6.50 if you have come from more than 100 kilometers by train (just show your ticket).
You can also rent for three calendar days (EUR 17.50) or for a week (EUR 32,50), and there are reduced prices for groups.
GPS 51°57'23.76" North; 7°38'3.56" East
The Münster bicycle station also has a professional bicycle repair shop, which is very convenient especially for people who park their bicycles here anyway.
As the Envrionmental Defense Fund points out, simply providing bicycle parking at the station isn't enough, "you have to make the facilities safe and comfortable as an incentive to get people to find it as convenient as driving with many extra benefits besides."
They mention Münster as a good example of a city which has done this, and go on to explain: "There's no doubt that bicycling is not only great for your health but saves money on fuel and reduces greenhouse gas emissions. It offers a way to get more people on mass transit at lower cost. Given the low cost of building and maintaining bike stations, we can both afford and physically accommodate a lot more bike spaces than we can car spaces. And it can free up now crowded park-and-ride spaces that often fill up early in the morning, so people who can't bike can more dependably catch a ride on transit."
The Münster bicycle station is open Monday through Friday from 5:30 to 23:00, Saturdays, Sundays and holidays from 7:00 to 23:00.
GPS 51°57'23.76" North; 7°38'3.56" East
Now why don't we have something like this in Frankfurt?
In the Münster bicycle station there is a machine where for a mere EUR 3.25 you can have your bicycle washed -- just the thing for a lazy person like me. (Lazy when it comes to washing, not riding.)
By the way, the Münster bicycle station began operations on June 14, 1999, so they are now celebrating their tenth anniversary. At first lots of people thought the bicycle station was a crazy idea, but it's been a huge success, and now people in Münster can't imagine how they ever got along without it.
For us visitors, the bicycle station is the first thing we see when we arrive in Münster and come out of the train station, so it's a great welcome to the city.
GPS 51°57'23.76" North; 7°38'3.56" East
1. Bicycle parking in Münster
2. Just a few of the 3500 parked bicycles
3. Ramp leading into the bicycle station
4. Leaving the bicycle station
As Germany's foremost bicycle city it is appropriate that Münster also has the country's largest bicycle station, with safe and dry parking spaces for 3500 bicycles.
The station is located directly in front of Münster's main railroad station, so people can ride their bikes to the station and then take the train to wherever they are going. People commuting into Münster also can deposit a bike here and then use it every day after they arrive here by train.
The American Envrionmental Defense Fund, in an article on "Bike-and-Ride Commuting", points out that bicycle stations like this one "eliminate the inefficiency of using your car for only a short distance (cold starts), and that saves a lot of fuel and greenhouse gas emissions that contribute to global warming." They explain that most cars "burn as much gas and put out as much pollution and greenhouse gases in the first two miles of a trip when the engine is cold as they do in the next five or ten miles of a trip."
Also they say that building and operating a bicycle station only costs one tenth to one one-hundredth of what it would cost to provide parking for the same number of cars.
Bicycle parking here at the Münster station costs EUR 0.70 for a day, 4.00 for seven days, 7.00 for a calendar month or 70.00 for a year. (Make that 90.00 for the year if you want to have your own reserved space.)
By the way it is still possible to park bikes up on the street for free, which lots of people still do for short term parking. (That's what I did when I stopped to take these photos.)
GPS 51°57'23.76" North; 7°38'3.56" East
1. Here the child gets to pedal, too
2. Child in a seat on the back of the bicycle
3. Children's bicycle trailers for rent
4. Children's bicycle trailer in the background
Parents in Münster have various ways of transporting their children by bicycle. In the first photo the child gets to pedal, too, and doesn't just have to sit there and vegetate.
The most common way, though, is to have a child sit in a special seat mounted on the back of the bicycle, as in my second photo. This way the child unfortunately does not get any exercise, but still gets accustomed to bicycle traffic and learns to accept it as something normal that everyone does.
Also there are special bicycle trailers for transporting children -- for rent in my third photo, parked behind the cyclists in the fourth photo.
In any case, the children soon learn to ride bicycles themselves. Most are taught by their parents, but there are also bicycle lessons in kindergarten from age 3, and in the schools.
1. Cyclists in the city center
2. Walking her bike
3. Cycling near the Town Hall
The center is closed off to car traffic, except for some deliveries, so the streets can by used by cyclists and pedestrians.
As the city press office points out, destinations within the city are normally reached faster by bicycle than by car "and that is not the only reason why both males and females, small and tall make regular use of their bicycles" as a matter of course. "Those who ride in the fresh air also do not have any problems finding a parking space, spare their nerves and cut costs."
1. Cyclists in Münster
2. Cyclists at an intersection in Münster
3. Cyclists on a separate bicycle path
4. On the street, sharing space with cars
5. Waiting at a traffic light (note the one cyclist with flowers)
Like other bicycle-friendly cities, Münster has clear political priorities for the use of bicycles as transportation, and has invested in an extensive network of bicycle lanes and paths -- 275 kilometers according to the official count.
At intersections there is often space for cyclists to wait ahead of the cars, instead of having to breathe in the exhaust from their exhaust pipes, and there are often special traffic lights which allow cyclists to start moving first, while the cars are still stopped. This means that cyclists are less likely to be overlooked, and can safely make left or right turns before the cars start coming.
As in Paris, for example, some of the bus lanes that are wide enough (4.5 meters or more) can be used by bicycles but not cars, since the buses can easily and safely overtake cyclists when necessary. And there is room for cyclists to overtake buses when they are stopped. These lanes are signposted and marked with a bus and bike symbol. (Narrower bus lanes are not open to bicycles, for safety reasons.)
We took the train from Düsseldorf to Münster. They run pretty frequently and the best deal is the Land Ticket where up to five people can travel for 25 Euros. You can do it as a day trip this way as the ticket is good till three in the morning the next day. We went up as a group of four and Sabs and Thomas went back that evening while we stayed overnight. The trip is about 1.5 hours. Well, Sabs said going back was a wee bit longer. ;) Caro graciously gave us a lift back to Düsseldorf the next morning. :)
Munster is located near to one of the main German autobahn #1 which conducts from Oldenburg to Saarbrucken. This autobahn is a part of European highway E47.
Driving across Germany gives huge pleasure. Nowhere in Europe we feel such freedom and safety on roads. Even there is nothing to speak about Russia …
Restriction of speed in Germany is 130 kilometers on highways and 100 kilometers on roads outside of settlements. There is no restriction of speed on autobahns! It is possible to drive with speed of 50 kilometers inside settlements. As much as possible admissible level of alcohol in blood is supposed 0.05. Roads are free-of-charge. Usage of seat belts is necessary for all passengers.
The international telephone code 49. Phone of emergency service 112.
Right next to the central train station you will find the Radstation, a huge bicycle parking lot with room for 3000 bicycles!!! This is, what makes Münster such a perfect cycle area - there are services available everywhere!
You can reach Münster by train from all major cities in Germany. ICE and IC trains as well as regional trains stop here.
The train station is in the center of Münster, so it is easy to go sightseeing starting at the station!