Archive for the ‘Green’ Category

Respro Mask Filter Change

Donnerstag, Februar 21st, 2013

I finally changed the filter of my Respro anti-pollution mask. Here is a picture:

Respro Techno Anti Pollution Mask and Filter

The air pollution levels have been high and low and very high and low again and often very high for a few days for the past weeks. I think I used my Respro Techno filter for about 40 hours of use. It is quite obvious which one is the used one.

Thank you Respro for helping me protect myself from all this pollution! And if you want to quit making masks, then just make big ventilators that we could install here in Beijing to blow all the pollution away. Like the Beijing wind always does…

Respro Techno Gold Air Pollution Filter after Usage in Beijing

Global Times Social Mobility

Mittwoch, November 28th, 2012

Here is an article published by Global Times in the Beijing section of the newspaper about social mobility. I also copied the full article into my blog:

Social mobility

By Hannah Leung


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Indoor stationary bike races help pass the time until spring comes. Photos: Courtesy of Shannon Bufton



Indoor stationary bike races help pass the time until spring comes. Photos: Courtesy of Shannon Bufton

Bikers are cool, but actually riding a bicycle takes more energy or motivation than some of us have.  But luckily, winter is a prime time to infiltrate the biking community and meet those fit, fun and athletic people without having to mount a saddle.

Winter biking activities are a gateway into fun events, socializing and progressive ideas, so take advantage of the sub-zero temperature to warm up to the biking niche without breaking a sweat. Whether it’s visiting multifunctional bike venues like Serk or Natooke or participating in indoor events, get the social wheels rolling without chilly pedals testing your mettle.

All year cheer

Biking while drinking is a bad idea. But taken separately, what better place to have a drink then a venue where fit people tend to congregate? Serk, discretely located in Beixinqiao, houses coffee, drinks and bikes in a streamlined, open space with high ceilings.

„Biking in the winter is a big concern which is why we decided to have something other than bikes,“ said owner Shannon Bufton, who runs the space with his wife, a Beijing native. The husband and wife duo are also co-founders of Smarter than Car, an aptly named platform that favors greener alternatives.

At the front is the bar and cabin-esque café; look high for the assortment of bicycles hanging above. The gear and supplies are packed efficiently in the back. Novices can peruse through biking and outdoor adventure magazines on the side shelves, while serious bikers phase in and out.

„Serk is a very flexible space. We have a workshops for bikes in the back,“ Bufton said.  „People may put their bikes away in the winter, but they can still learn how to keep their bikes up in the summer.“

Active activities 

For those hoping to do more than sit around and take in the scene, winter biking options are surprisingly expansive. Serk is holding a thrice-occurring indoor bike competition in December, January, and March, called JISU PK. The event has two competitors race on stationary bikes for 30-seconds, an event fueled by alcohol.

For outdoor enthusiasts, the Beijing Bunch Ride is a group that rides all the way through winter. Organized by TriBeijing and Serk, the group meets early Sunday mornings at Serk, before heading out.

Natooke, which customizes fixed gear bikes, has already become, well, a fixture in Wudaoying Hutong, holding many events at all times of the year.

Owner Ines Brunn, originally from Germany, first visited Beijing in 2001 and witnessed first hand the progression of a city cycling culture upturned by a car society. This has fortunately shifted in the past two years, with the emergence of a younger generation of bikers.

On Saturday, Natooke held a Mini Fixed Gear Revolution, a winter indoor event at Long Art Space in the 798 District that featured indoor racing and relay races. All levels of bikers were welcomed.

„I thought it would be good to have a counter event to summer activities, [one] less competitive and more focused on having fun in the winter,“ said Brunn.

Despite being winter, there seemed no shortage of bikers, evident from the dozen enthused, well-dressed and mostly young Chinese locals that showed up around 11 am outside the shop prior to the event to ride up together.

Other events just require basic bike riding skills and a lot of zeal, including the Big Dirty ride on St. Nicholas Day, December 6, better known as the day foreigners dress like Santa and attract attention from locals.

„We’ll have a costume ride, like we had for Halloween. We’ll meet here at 8 pm and find Santa costumes for people who do not have them, then we’ll ride,“ said Brunn.

Mind the elements

One obvious way to get involved is to treat the bicycle as it was intended, as a mode of green transportation. Don’t be deterred from starting now.

„I’m always confused when people say, ‚I don’t cycle anymore in the winter because it’s cold,‘ and then they take the subway and walk forever. I find it much colder when you’re [waiting] for a bus or taxi for 20 minutes,“ said Brunn.

Novices and experts agree on dressing well.

„You can put bags over your socks, [which] stops the wind from going in,“ said Bufton, recommending sticking hot pouches (available at any convenience store) inside gloves and on top of the toes. „Always cover your ears,“ Bufton added, knowing the value of keeping warm, after his feet started to go numb a few years ago from winter riding.

And unless you want to counterweigh the benefits of biking, wear a face mask to shield against pollution.

Of course, not all run-of-the-mill bikers are convinced, though aesthetics play a convincing factor.

„All the international kids in the area, especially Koreans, have cool looking fixed gear bikes…I’m sure that pretty bikes are a great conversation starter,“ said Theresa Tong, a 26-year-old Australian studying in Wudaokou.

„But harsh wind is not my friend,“ Tong said, with no plans of using the bike as a social tool to sneak into the cool – no make that freezing cold – biking subculture.


Dienstag, Dezember 21st, 2010

China Radio International (CRI) came a week ago to film Shannon and me regarding our „Smarter than Car“ (STC).

Shannon interviewed by CRI

Here is the link to the video CRI made introducing what our mission in Beijing is. They wrote:

Beijing is a city made for cycling. There are designated bike lanes. You can lock up your two-wheeler almost anywhere. And, the city is as flat as a pancake. So why is Beijing jam-packed with vehicles? An organization called „Smarter Than Car“ is trying to change that. It is reviving pedal power in the city. Liu Bing reports.

CCTV Green Space Talkshow

Sonntag, Dezember 12th, 2010

I was invited to the CCTV10 Green Space (Green Life) talkshow to talk about cycling in Beijing as an environmentally friendly transportation method and a green lifestyle. It was a very nice show called „I love riding bike“. Have a look at this program, but it is all in Chinese and we only talk. Click on the following image to see the video:

绿色空间 2010年 第238期 我爱骑车

关  键  字:骑车出行  解读  绿色出行  看法  体会  环境资源

本期节目主要内容:本期节目请来自行车俱乐部发起人孙健和三联生活周刊的撰稿人袁越一起来对骑车出行做另类的解读,骑车作为一种被倡导的绿色出行方式,在 华居住多年的德国前室内自行车运动员伊泉和韩国健美教练赵守镇对于目前在中国骑车出行又有怎样的看法和体会,本期节目和主持人一起讨论骑车出行,倡导珍惜 环境资源。

There were 4 guests on this talk show. First Sun Jian and the author of Life Week Yuan Yue do travel together on bicycle. Cycling is started to become a way to do green traveling in China. Then a South Korean girl that does not cycle and me (Ines Brunn) were invited to speak about cycling in Beijing comparing it to other countries around the world.

Dupree’s Bike and STC at „mini“ Pecha Kucha

Dienstag, November 9th, 2010

Finally we are working on Dupree’s fixed gear bike. The wheels are finished now he started installing the bottom bracket on his matt black Flying Banana frame.

Wheels for Dupree’s Bike

The next step was the headset. As his frame is lugged he is installing a Italian threaded headset.

Dupree’s Headset

This year we are celebrating our 4th annual event series of „Greening the Beige“ GTB10: Plant Your Seed. Warming up to the full month of „green“ creative thinking and doing, there was a 1st-event „mini“ Pecha Kucha Night at The Bookworm, hosted by Beijing Green Drinks and Greening the Beige.

Presentations included the following:
1) GTB’10: Plant Your Seed (annual Greening the Beige event series)
2) Shannon Bufton, Smarter than Car STC
3) Philip McMaster, World Sustainability Project
4) Bertil Weil & Tulipos Fan,
5) He Bowen, Dynamic City Foundation, Sustainable City Project
6) Patrick Augenstein, Environmental Education Media Project China

Shannon spoke about hear an idea for re-inventing Beijing’s roadside bicycle repair stations which was really interesting.

Shannon at Beijing Pecha Kucha

After that Julien and I took his father for a goodbye dinner at a Beijing style hotpot restaurant.

Dinner at Hotpot

Popular Science Week – 科普日

Mittwoch, September 22nd, 2010

After the past 6 days of rain the sky was amazingly clear and blue on this Mid-Autumn festival holiday. What a coincidence that the rain stopped just before the public holiday. It was great to be out cycling today. On the bridge over the North 4th ring road in the East side of the city I stopped and took a picture towards the West with the Fragrant Hills mountains so crisp and close. Please also note the huge traffic jam in both directions on 4th ring road on about 10 lanes:

Fragrant Hills and Blue Sky

From the same point I also took a picture towards the North and even there you could see the mountains where parts of the Great Wall of China are.

Beijing Northern Mountains

When I was in the Olympic Park I took another picture towards the West. I could even see some fences on the mountains. I love Beijing like this! I hope we will have more blue sky!

Blue Sky Beijing

I was heading towards the Chinese Academy of Science for the Popular Science Week exhibition (科普日).

Chinese Academy of Science Exhibition

There were exhibits around environmental topics. But they had areas for the people to be interactive. Like for example they had a place where you could rip up a newspaper and then make your own recycled paper out of it.

Recycled Paper DIY

And of course quite some things on wind energy and solar energy. They had little build up yourself model cars that were powered my solar panels.

Solar Powered Model Car

We were involved through our Smarter than Car groups (STC). We had worked with the Vehicle Emission Control Center which is a part of the Ministry of Environmental Protection.

Ministry of Environmental Protection

They had exhibits like this comparison of the CO2 emission of a typical nowadays normal car (right side) compared to a hybrid car (left side).

Hybrid Car versus Normal Car

We had provided the JisuPK, the bicycle roller goldsprints as an interactive way to just say biking can be fun.

JisuPK Bike Race Fun

This exhibition had already been on for 4 days. The first day high level officials had been there. Especially China’s Vice President Xi Jinping, who also came for a visit of this exhibition was interested in our JisuPK bike set-up. But unfortunately that morning the laptop with the software was not there yet so he could not race. Maybe next time Xi Jinping can challenge someone on our fixed gear bikes.

Many Woman came Racing

A lot of people every day came to sit on the bikes and pedal as fast as they can for a length of 200 meters. The record for this exhibition until today was 60km/h average speed and that was done by my new employee Dupree. Good work!

People cheering for the JisuPK

And I also had my bamboo trick bike there and did some performances to show people that the green material bamboo makes bikes which are really stable.

Ines Brunn performing on Bamboo Fixed Gear Bike

And after each performance the people would just all come close and ask many questions about the bike made out of real bamboo and of course for how many years I have been doing bike tricks.

The audience Magnet: Bamboo Bike

Later I went back to the shop. I forgot that yesterday we did not take a picture of the nice light blue and orange fixed gear bike that a customer had us build up.

China Daily Article on Bike for Better Beijing

Montag, September 20th, 2010

The original article by China Daily is here.

More than 80 percent of Beijing’s office workers are willing to saddle up and commute to work by bicycle, according to a report released on Saturday.

But the report adds that the would-be cyclists will not be choosing the green option unless a list of prerequisites is met first.

Top of the list is the need for safe bicycle lanes that are not used by car drivers for parking.

The office workers said they would also need to feel confident that their bikes will not be stolen because the theft of cycles is rampant in the capital.

And their final demand is that a more convenient and efficient bike rental system is developed, especially near subway stations.

The report, conducted by China Mainland Marketing Research Co, together with another report named Bike for a Better Beijing, which was released on the same day by Friends of Nature, point out challenges facing cyclists in the city.

„Motor vehicles are the priorities in the design of Beijing’s road systems, making it dangerous to cycle in the city,“ said Li Bo, head of Friends of Nature in China.

Li said about 75 percent of interviewees who took part in the research said Beijing lacks parking lots designed for bikes.

„Too many people have had their bikes stolen, so they only ride shabby ones instead, which makes riding a bike shameful instead of fashionable.“

In addition, the bike rental industry in Beijing has faced challenges because it requires high investment but has low usage.

Wang Yong, president of the Beijing Bicycle Rental Co, said he had invested more than 50 million yuan in the business since 2005. He said business had been so bad that almost all of his rivals had left the market during the past five years.

Guo Haiyan, vice-president of the Chinese Cycling Association, said the main reason for the low take-up rate for bike rentals was the lack of convenience.

„The number of motor vehicles is growing so fast in Beijing, exceeding 4.5 million and occupying so much space,“ she said. „It is not an exaggeration to call the city ‚a flowing parking lot‘.“

Guo said, with all the problems caused by motor vehicles, it is high time to slow down and think about what would make Beijing a „livable city“.

Shannon Bufton, an Australian who is the founder of Smarter Than Car, an NGO dedicated to promoting the use of bikes in Beijing, said the idea of a livable city has evolved in the West.

He said in the 1940s, Western countries used to believe in motor vehicles as a more convenient mode of travel but, 20 years later, severe congestion hit many countries, just as it is doing in Beijing right now.

He cited Copenhagen as an example of how a city can evolve past the stage Beijing is now at. The city used to be crowded with cars before the government made part of the city center car-free.

„It is the idea of ‚reconquering cities‘ initiated by Danish designers, which means reclaiming the city center from cars for people.“

Denmark is one of the nations with the highest GDP but despite its affluence, Danish people choose to cycle, even in the winter.

Another role model for Beijing is Bogota, capital of Colombia, he said.

Bufton said the use of bikes in the city has multiplied nine times in the past five years and special wide lanes have been created down the center of roads for cyclists to use.

„People have to get out of their cars to experience the advantages of cycling but all the advantages are based on convenience,“ Wang added.

„When we see rich people and celebrities driving their cars every day and when it is almost impossible to find a place to park your bike; when all the roads are designed for motor vehicles, it is ridiculous to ask the public to ride a bike.“


There was also an article about the „Bike for Better Beijing“ published in the Global Times.
Today was also an article about the very bad traffic jams in Beijing the past few days.
Just a few days ago was an article in China Daily about how it is not easy to cycling in Beijing with all the cars in the city.

World No Car Day / 世界无车日 Screening of ‚Beijing Bicycle‘ / 电影放映 ‘北京单车’

Sonntag, September 19th, 2010

Screening of ‚Beijing Bicycle‘
电影放映 ‘北京单车’

To celebrate ‘World No Car Day’ Friends of Nature together with STC are organizing a ‘bike to movie’ event at Ditan Park.

We invite all variety of bike riders to join together and ride to the event to show support for bicycles in Beijing. Come and join us for a classic movie under the stars.
我们邀请各界的朋友一起骑车参加这个活动来支持在北京的多用自行车出行。 让我们一起来享受露天的电影吧。

The event is free and the first 50 participants from STC (Smarter Than Car) will be treated to a free T-shirt and water bottle.
这个活动是免费的,STC的前50名参加者可以得到一件T-shirt, 或一个自行车水壶。

Bike for Better Beijing

Ines Brunn will also be doing a very very special trick performance together with Yu Changqing. That’s right 2 people on 1 bike doing tricks that most of can’t even manage when standing on solid ground!
伊泉和于长庆会做一次非常非常特殊的车技表演。 队,两个人用同一辆自行车进行表演。

Yu Changqing is a 74 year young Beijinger that started doing tricks on bikes at the age of 13. Over the years he had performed hundreds of times at National festivals and events. After meeting Ines Brunn and watching her perform he was inspired to get back to doing tricks. The 2 are now practicing tricks together on his trick bike. A beautiful mixture of young and old, East and West, male and female bond through their passion for bikes.
于先生北京人,今年芳龄74, 从13岁起就进行车技表演。 他曾经在不同的场合,仪式庆典上进行了上百次表演。 在遇到了伊泉并看过伊泉表演后, 他被感染了,决定重新回到自行车上。两人现在正加紧训练。 大家将会期待一场新老,东西方,男女荟萃的精彩表演。

Due to limitations imposed by the Ditan Park Management the movie screening will begin at 7 pm – therefore STC will organize a group ride after the movie to a bar or club for those that are interested in partying on.
因为地坛公园管理委员会的规定, 电影放映的时间将提前到7:00pm,所以STC的骑行活动将在电影结束后,我们去一个酒吧或俱乐部。

Meeting point : North Gate of Ditan Park. 6.30 pm
集合地点:地坛北门 6:30pm

Time : Tuesday September 21st

6.30pm – free t-shirt + bottle collection / 6:30PM 填写免责书, 发T-Shirt 和自行车水壶
6:45pm – Presentation and Ines and Yu’s performance / 伊泉和于先生车技表演
7:00pm- Screening of ‘Beijing Bicycle’ / 放映‘北京单车’
9:00 pm – STC ride – venue TBC / 骑行活动

Bring : Your bike and bike lock. Bring friends. Bring some snacks along or eat before the movie !
携带物品:你的自行车和车锁, 你的朋友还有你自己的零食。

Contact/联系 : Shannon 13426474634

Please RSVP if you would like the free drink bottle and t-shirt !
如果参加此活动得到T-Shirt 或自行车水壶 , 请邮件回复,

Biketo Article about Ines Brunn

Mittwoch, August 25th, 2010

There is a nice article on the „Biketo“website. Read the original article in Chinese here. The video and pictures can only be seen in the original article. But here is the Chinese text for those who understand Chinese.


2010年08月25日来源|自行车网作者:张柱量【BIKETO特约撰稿人】点击:3416 次

  STC,一个在北京成立的环保组织,英文全称叫:“smarter than car”,从字面意思是比车聪明,伊泉说他们给这个由老外建立的组织起了一个很京味儿的名字:“比车牛”。听起来确实让骑车的人底气大增的一个名字。

  而这个建立在北京的环保组织的创始人之一就是我们今天的主角:Ines(伊 泉)。外人可能不知,现在伊泉可是北京城乃至中国死飞界的一姐。刚刚在北京结束的死飞大赛按照她的话说,是令她最快乐的事情。我想不只是主办人的她,全国 的死飞党肯定都沉浸在这份喜悦中吧。虽然比赛规模不大,但毕竟这是中国死飞界难得一聚的盛会。而身为北京死飞运动的领军人物,伊泉当然首当其冲。


  刚见到伊泉时,她正在帮两个年轻人在改装车把,将普通的蝴蝶把截成定制长度的 把,然后缠上把带或者装上把套。而她的身旁有一个德国青年正自己改装一辆老飞鸽自行车,将车的多余零部件拆下来装上现代的漂亮的车圈和车把,但车架还是用 原来的老飞鸽车架。于是一辆集合了古老元素和现代气息的自行车就在这几平米大小的工作间中渐渐成形了。看着她们认真工作的情景,真的不愿意上去打断,虽然 与伊泉有约,但还是在一旁默默的看着她们工作。

  联想起我们第一次见面还是5月在朝阳公园出发去深圳的路上,她们骑着死飞自行 车加入了送行的队伍,由于骑的很慢,所以大家有机会一边走一边聊天,才得知这个说着一口流利中国话的老外是一个地地道道的德国人,也是第一次见识到了死飞 是一个什么东东。当时的感觉就是强悍,因为后来吃过饭后由于要追赶队伍,所以她们骑着死飞一溜烟就跑了,我在后面追了好久才又赶上。当时的感觉是一辆单速 车居然能跑这么快,真是太厉害了。后来才了解到死飞车的特性,它本身就是竞速自行车,简单到极致的构造和轻盈的车身,不跑的快才怪呢。



  伊泉是去年11月在这里开的店,到今年还不到一年,但这个地方已经变成了北京 死飞的一个聚集地,而刚刚闭幕的这届北京死飞大赛就已经有一百多人参加。她预计5年后北京玩死飞的人群至少在1000人左右。虽然如此,我还是不解一个德 国受过高等教育,有电信公司工作的老外为什么会舍弃这样的工作而开一家自行车商店,她喝了口水,向我叙述了她的故事。

  德国,在经历了工业革命大发展的年代后环保成为了这个国家铭刻在世世代代脑海 中的祖训。因为曾经的污染记忆,给了那一代德国人乃至整个欧洲人深刻的教训。于是重工业的外迁,以及各项环保措施和法令的执行,开始使得莱茵河水渐渐恢复 了清澈。但环保的意识却更加深刻。伊泉就是生活在这样一个环保意识非常成熟的国家。在她的记忆中,父母带着他们一家人在野外支起帐篷,采上蘑菇,然后亲手 烹煮一锅香喷喷的蘑菇汤是她儿时最美好的记忆。热爱大自然的她,在长大后喜欢上了北京,喜欢上了这座东方文明的殿堂。但令她失望的是,现在的北京和她01 年来时见到的北京已经完全不一样了。她见到的胡同中穿行着骑着自行车的人们,逐渐被越来越廉价的骑车所俘虏。原来人们的好心情也逐渐被堵车搞的越来越坏, 快乐的北京人们变得越来越没有耐心,变得越来越不北京。


  可是伊泉却不这么想,她天生就是一个乐观的人,她最终选择了自行车。这个在中 国人生命中扮演过异常重要意义的一件曾经的生活必需品。她说,在以前的生活中,自行车,缝纫机和电视机是中国人生活中的三大件,而现在自行车的地位被汽车 所代替,我们只有从年轻人入手。将更先进的自行车引进中国。

  我们知道,中国是一个跳跃式发展的国家,很多的历史是不能照搬欧洲乃至亚洲发 达国家的发展史的,它不仅仅是压缩了发展的时间,更重要的是一个迭代的发展特征正在这个国家的发展中体现出来。比如就在这个国家的70后还沉浸在是买一辆 两厢实用的大众汽车还是买一辆降价后的宝马车的时候,80后以及90后已经开始用自己的眼光去DIY一辆完全属于自己的FIXDE GEAR了。他们骑着光彩夺目的现代自行车,在北京的街头越来越多的出现。他们不再和仅仅差了一轮的兄长们有同样的追求,至少是在消费品方面,他们已经开 始与美国甚至日本的年轻人接轨。而同时,美国等发达国家的流行元素也通过淘宝甚至是易趣变得更容易被中国人接受。

  而伊泉恰恰是看到了这一点,中国未来的力量。他们对自行车运动的喜爱,必然会 倡导出环保的理念。试想,如果80后90后们都骑着自己喜爱的自行车,而不是开着轰隆隆的跑车出行,那么北京的空气将越来越好,因为,未来是属于年轻人 的。如果越来越多的人骑上自行车,那么我们的北京有一天也将变成亚洲的哥本哈根。

她讲到了墨尔本,这个澳洲的美丽都市,而STC的另一位外籍成员就是来自那里。澳 洲是一个地广人稀的国家,每个人都拥有一辆汽车,他们不敢想象骑车从一个城市穿越沙漠来到另一个城市而没有汽车的生活。于是,城市变变得越来越拥堵。因为 人们基本都是在城市中生活的,连去500米外的超市买菜都要开车。但聪明的澳洲人看到了汽车拥堵的害处,于是在原本没有自行车道的汽车道路上硬是划出来一 条自行车道。由于政府的大力倡导,自行车开始在澳洲流行起来,骑自行车的人们也越来越多。人们的心情也好了起来,不再为路上堵车而心情烦躁,甚至社会的犯 罪率都因为自行车的推广而有所下降。


Germany Closes Highway for Cyclists and Pedestrians

Montag, Juli 19th, 2010

I am so great to hear that Germany closed 60km of one of the busiest highways for a full day to give that space to the people. People came walking, riding bikes or skating to enjoy a day outside. The different community clubs set up different activities. And there were 20000 beer tables set up for people to sit and enjoy along the longest table. Here are some pictures from Spiegel where I really love the people just doing a great bike ride on the highway.

A40 Closed for People

Cyclists on the Autobahn A40 in Germany

This amazing mega-event was called Still-Leben and there are quite a lot of articles about it. Here is the link to the article on SPIEGEL ONLINE. Or here is one article on USA TODAY. And this is the picture of the autobahn crowded with pedestrians posted on USA TODAY:

A40 Closed off for a Mega Street Party

Here is the text of the article published by the GUARDIAN:
Life’s a picnic on Germany’s autobahn
Three million attend giant banquet on stretches of road between Duisburg and Dortmund

One of Germany’s busiest motorways has been brought to a standstill after a huge party saw picnic tables line 60km (37 miles) of the country’s famous autobahn network.

As many as three million people turned up for a giant banquet on one of the busiest stretches of the network between Duisburg and Dortmund, in western Germany.

A radio traffic report said: „Attention on the A40. There is a 60km (37 mile) closure between Duisburg and Dortmund due to the longest table in the world.“

The cultural celebration called rather appropriately Still Life was held in celebration of the Ruhr region.

The event’s organisers said they had given away 20,000 tables so people could eat, drink, dance and perform plays into the evening.

One lane of the autobahn, which crosses North Rhine-Westphalia state, was kept free for skaters and cyclists – and more than one million revellers brought bicycles, including the state premier, Hannelore Kraft.

„This is fantastic,“ she told Reuters. „I grew up right next to the A40 and still live close to it. It’s great to see it now without cars but with so many people and so much cultural variety.“

There are no general speed limits on Germany’s autobahns. Cars often speed up to 200km per hour (125mph) or more. In dense or dangerous areas, drivers are often required to slow down to 120 km per hour (75mph).

The Ruhr region was chosen by the European Union this year as a European Capital of Culture 2010 the first time the distinction went to an area rather than a city.