Cycling in Stuttgart
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.
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.
Dedicated bicycle lane; the lane may also be painted another color, like red or green.
Bicycle street: cars may still use this street, but only for short distances, and bicycles have right of way.
“Fahrradstraße” means bicycle street. “Anlieger frei” means residents may also drive on it.
No entry for cars, but bicycles may ride freely. This is often posted on one-way streets.
Bicycles may go in both directions on this “Einbahnstraße” (one-way street).
Cyclists should turn right; usually signs like this direct cyclists onto a side road to continue.
Sidewalks and paths with this sign are for pedestrians only. (Fines apply for cyclists.)
Pedestrians and bicycles share the sidewalk or path and should watch out for one another.
Cyclists have a lane to the left and pedestrians one to the right (not that they always pay attention!)
A pedestrian street that cyclists may use; it’s advised to use a bell to warn people you’re coming.
A pedestrian zone that cyclists may use; it’s advised to use a bell to warn people you’re coming.
A traffic light directing only bicycle traffic, usually when cars and pedestrians have a different pattern.