Cycling in Stuttgart

rental bikes regio rad

Stuttgart is a great place to enjoy cycling for leisure and sport, and it’s aim­ing to become more bike-friend­ly for com­muters as well. Read on to learn more about rid­ing your bicy­cle in Stuttgart specif­i­cal­ly as well as some gen­er­al rules for cyclists in Germany.

Ready to Ride?

Stuttgart’s cli­mate is fair­ly mild, so you can cycle near­ly the whole year round. Although it may be less pleas­ant from Decem­ber to March due to low­er tem­per­a­tures and high­er pre­cip­i­ta­tion, snow and ice are rarely on the ground for even a week at a time. There’s a fair bit of incline in Stuttgart, espe­cial­ly when it comes to going in and out of the “Kessel,” but a stan­dard mul­ti­ple-speed bicy­cle will suf­fice for get­ting around.

Stuttgart offers a large net­work of cycling paths, par­tic­u­lar­ly in its many green areas and forests. Unfor­tu­nate­ly most city streets do not have ded­i­cat­ed bicy­cle lanes, but the city admin­is­tra­tion has set a goal of des­ig­nat­ing at least one cycling lane or road in every city dis­trict by 2030. For­tu­nate­ly, dri­vers in Stuttgart gen­er­al­ly tend to be cau­tious of cyclists: you’re more like­ly to be honked at for cre­at­ing a line of slowed cars behind you than you are to be clipped by some­one pass­ing too close­ly. In many areas, side­walks are des­ig­nat­ed for both pedes­tri­ans and bicy­cles, which is advan­ta­geous in pro­tect­ing cyclists from high-speed traf­fic, but can be frus­trat­ing when too many peo­ple are walk­ing abreast.

Leisure and Sport

Whether you enjoy a lazy ride with the kids or want to get in top shape, Stuttgart has plen­ty of options for you. Prac­ti­cal­ly any park or for­est has paths for cycling, whether shared with pedes­tri­ans or ded­i­cat­ed for moun­tain bikes. We’ll high­light a few of par­tic­u­lar interest.

There’s a love­ly route loop­ing 83 kilo­me­ters (51.6 miles) around the Stuttgart val­ley basin called the Radel-Thon. It’s well sign­post­ed and acces­si­ble year round. Even if you’re not ready to do such a long ride, near­ly any sec­tion offers love­ly scenery for recre­ation­al cyclists to enjoy, pass­ing vine­yards, lakes, and forests.

Do you enjoy moun­tain bik­ing? The Wood­peck­er Trail near Degerloch was spe­cial­ly set up as a legal route for down­hill and moun­tain bik­ing. Over a dis­tance of about one kilo­me­ter (0.6 miles), the trail drops about 120 meters (394 ft) in alti­tude and presents 27 dif­fer­ent obstacles.

Stuttgart boasts a course for BMX and SX (super­cross) in Mün­ster, the first of its kind in Ger­many. There are ramps, curves, and var­i­ous obsta­cles in dif­fer­ent lev­els of dif­fi­cul­ty up to World Cup lev­el. You can check for avail­abil­i­ty and book a slot on the BMX Union web­site.

Inter­est­ed in cycling with oth­er enthu­si­asts? There are more than 30 sport clubs in Stuttgart that offer cycling. Use Stuttgart’s sport search tool Sport und Spiel to fil­ter for offer­ings that match your sched­ule and interests.

Finding a Route

There are many tools for find­ing a bicy­cle route in Stuttgart. We’ll run through a few, from gen­er­al to specific.

Google Maps offers a cycling option when search­ing for direc­tions from A to B. In gen­er­al it works well in Stuttgart, but occa­sion­al­ly you may find your­self direct­ed onto a high­way or up a steep moun­tain bike path with­out warn­ing. The over­all increase and decrease in ele­va­tion is shown for each route.

Bike Map presents both scenic cycling routes and route plan­ners from A to B. The maps show ter­rain as well as the increase and decrease in ele­va­tion for each route. You can even use it for plan­ning long-dis­tance trips between cities.

The VVS Radrouten­plan­er dis­tin­guish­es itself by offer­ing the option of com­bin­ing a bicy­cle route with pub­lic trans­porta­tion options in and around Stuttgart.

Traveling with Bicycles

The U‑Bahn and S‑Bahn net­work in Stuttgart allows bicy­cles to be tak­en along for free on week­ends, pub­lic hol­i­days, and on week­days before 6:00am and after 9:00am. Dur­ing the morn­ing rush hour from 6:00–9:00, a child’s tick­et for the cor­rect num­ber of zones must be pur­chased for the bicy­cle. (Learn more about pub­lic trans­porta­tion in Stuttgart).

There is also a lim­it of two bicy­cles per entry/exit area of the train, except for des­ig­nat­ed bicy­cle cars in an S‑Bahn. The cog rail­way (Zah­n­rad­bahn) from Marien­platz to Degerloch only allows bicy­cles to be secured in front of the train, not tak­en inside, and they can only be mount­ed and removed at the end points of the line.

Stuttgart gen­er­al­ly does not allow bicy­cles to be tak­en on bus­es, but some out­ly­ing towns in the region (such as Böblin­gen and Lud­wigs­burg) do allow them in the evenings. There are also spe­cial bicy­cle and leisure bus­es that run in the warmer months and allow bicy­cles on board.

It’s no prob­lem to bring a bicy­cle on a Ger­man inter­ci­ty train; you just need to buy a bicy­cle tick­et from Deutsche Bahn and secure it in the bicy­cle car.

Bicycle Maintenance, Storage, and Rentals

Stuttgart has no short­age of bicy­cle shops offer­ing repairs and rentals in addi­tion to bicy­cles for pur­chase. We’d like to rec­om­mend a few ser­vices that we find par­tic­u­lar­ly helpful.

Neue Arbeit offers bicy­cle ser­vice sta­tions in the imme­di­ate vicin­i­ty of a hand­ful of S‑Bahn sta­tions in Stuttgart. These sta­tions pro­vide secure cov­ered stor­age of bicy­cles at low prices, main­te­nance and ser­vic­ing dur­ing stor­age, and bicy­cle rentals. They also accept dona­tions of old bicy­cles which they repair and donate to those in need.

With Voi you can rent bicy­cles and elec­tric kick scoot­ers in Stuttgart. (app for Apple or Android).

Deutche Bahn offers the Call A Bike ser­vice so that you can ride the train into a new town and seam­less­ly con­tin­ue on your way on a rent­ed bicy­cle. They offer day pass­es for tourists and part­ner with the poly­go­card as well. Regio­Rad­Stuttgart sys­tem is the local arm of Call A Bike, mak­ing it easy to switch to a bicy­cle once you exit the city limits.

Rules to Follow

Cyclists in Ger­many must obey all traf­fic reg­u­la­tions. In essence, when rid­ing on the roads, obey the rules for motor vehi­cles, and when rid­ing on the side­walks (where indi­cat­ed), obey the rules for pedes­tri­ans. On streets with bike lanes, there may be spe­cial traf­fic lights direct­ing cyclists sep­a­rate­ly from cars or pedes­tri­ans. Fail­ing to respect a red light will result in a puni­tive fine.

Look for signs with infor­ma­tion for cyclists (scroll down for some exam­ples). For exam­ple, there are signs on one-way streets giv­ing spe­cial per­mis­sion for bikes to go both ways. Impor­tant­ly, only side­walks with signs show­ing both bicy­cles and pedes­tri­ans may be shared, although chil­dren under 8 must ride on the side­walk and may be accom­pa­nied by one super­vis­ing adult, even where the side­walk is meant only for pedes­tri­ans. Rid­ing on the side­walk when you shouldn’t may result in a fine.

In Ger­many, you sig­nal a turn to the left with the left arm and a turn to the right with the right arm (not with a bent left arm as in the US). Sig­nal­ing a stop may be done with either hand, but the left is rec­om­mend­ed since it’s more eas­i­ly vis­i­ble by a dri­ver behind you.

Yield to traf­fic on the right as well as any­time you come onto a street from a path or side­walk. Pedes­tri­ans always have the right of way. Nev­er ride with two bikes side by side on any street; if you do so on oth­er paths, make sure you stay alert and leave space for oth­ers to pass.

In Stuttgart the fol­low­ing safe­ty equip­ment is required on all bicy­cles: a head­light, a red tail­light, reflec­tive wheel strips or spoke reflec­tors, two inde­pen­dent brakes, non-slip ped­als with two ped­al reflec­tors and a bell. If you are caught with­out any of the above (par­tic­u­lar­ly in low-vis­i­bil­i­ty con­di­tions), you will be issued a fine.

There is no hel­met require­ment for adults, but not hav­ing one will affect your lia­bil­i­ty if you are injured. in Stuttgart all chil­dren under you must have reflec­tors and for night-time rid­ing, a front light in yel­low or white and a back light in red

It’s ille­gal to use a phone while rid­ing a bicy­cle, except with a hands-free device. Hav­ing head­phones in is gen­er­al­ly allowed in Stuttgart, but if a police­man deter­mines that your media is played loud enough to impair your rid­ing safe­ly, they may fine you. In addi­tion, head­phones may count against you in deter­min­ing fault in an accident.

Dri­ving while under the influ­ence of alco­hol is for­bid­den: ebike rid­ers must respect the same 0.05% blood alco­hol con­tent lim­it as dri­vers, while cyclists have a more lenient 0.16% lim­it. Vio­la­tions, depend­ing on their sever­i­ty, may result in steep fines, points on or revo­ca­tion of your driver’s license, and even crim­i­nal charges. Insur­ance com­pa­nies may also refuse to pay out if you caused dam­age or were injured while intoxicated.

bicycle lane

Ded­i­cat­ed bicy­cle lane; the lane may also be paint­ed anoth­er col­or, like red or green.

bicycle street

Bicy­cle street: cars may still use this street, but only for short dis­tances, and bicy­cles have right of way.

bicycle street sign

Fahrrad­straße” means bicy­cle street. “Anlieger frei” means res­i­dents may also dri­ve on it.

no entry but bikes

No entry for cars, but bicy­cles may ride freely. This is often post­ed on one-way streets.

one way but bikes

Bicy­cles may go in both direc­tions on this “Ein­bahn­straße” (one-way street).

bikes turn right

Cyclists should turn right; usu­al­ly signs like this direct cyclists onto a side road to continue.

pedestrians only

Side­walks and paths with this sign are for pedes­tri­ans only. (Fines apply for cyclists.)

pedestrians and bikes

Pedes­tri­ans and bicy­cles share the side­walk or path and should watch out for one another.

bike lane pedestrian lane

Cyclists have a lane to the left and pedes­tri­ans one to the right (not that they always pay attention!)

pedestrian plus bikes

A pedes­tri­an street that cyclists may use; it’s advised to use a bell to warn peo­ple you’re coming.

pedestrian zone plus bikes

A pedes­tri­an zone that cyclists may use; it’s advised to use a bell to warn peo­ple you’re coming.

bicycle traffic light

A traf­fic light direct­ing only bicy­cle traf­fic, usu­al­ly when cars and pedes­tri­ans have a dif­fer­ent pattern.