Participatory methods


TITLE: eDrais2017, E-bikes and pedicels


E-bikes and pedicels: How are they used in the city of Karlsruhe, where is the appropriate infrastructureand what should be improved? These were the central questions of the Karlsruhe URBAN INNO Pilot “eDrais2017”.
Within the framework of eDrais2017 the development of the infrastructure for the use of e-bikes / pedicels in Karlsruhe has been discussed with its energetic and climate-relevant aspects as well as the use of new technologies. Interested citizens, representatives of the city of Karlsruhe, and the relevant local economy and science where involved in the process. The purpose was to test methods to strengthen citizen participation in the analysis, design and development of local infrastructures.

Hence, the pilot used two participatory methods: (1) crowdsourcing and (2) a future workshop. The basic challenge of the pilot is the current situation regarding electric locomotion (via eCars, eBikes, pedicels etc.). Is there a low eBike usage because there are no appropriate cycle paths and not enough charging stations? Or are there no appropriate cycle paths and not enough charging stations because eBikes have such a low success, i.e. have a too low diffusion rate? If this causality can be answered, it is easier to give the right recommendations towards policy-makers. One of the challenges was also to find out which cycle paths are often used by eBike users or where they park their eBikes, as it makes sense to set up charging stations in these paths and squares. In addition, there is only insufficient information available about the current settings and settings desired by the citizens regarding eBike usage.


The participatory approach in the Karlsruhe pilot involved interested citizens, representatives of the city of Karlsruhe, political representatives, and the relevant local economy and science in the future workshop. The general public was asked to join the discussion via the institutional website of CyberForum and the respective social media channels. Thereby, an initial sensitization for the topic and possible questions surrounding it could be placed in advance. The invitation was also distributed via DIZ (Digital Innovation Centre) and the online magazine “techtag”. Additionally, on the “FahrradFestival 2017” in May, citizens were asked to register themselves for the future workshop. As a third pillar, relevant stakeholders from the other three groups were contacted and invited via the Wirtschaftsförderung (economic development office) Karlsruhe and the pilot partner Stadtplanungsamt (town planning office).


The method world café was used to in the framework of a future workshop – a mixture of world café and vision factory. The workshop was a half-day event, where the relevant stakeholder groups (citizens, city administration, regional politicians, research and economy) were present. The Karlsruhe Pilot Team tested this second participatory method in the Karlsruhe City Hall on Saturday, 16th September 2017. Unfortunately, only 13 persons could be motivated to attend the workshop. One reason for the lack of participation could have been the beautiful weather that day, which might have motivated people to stay outdoors on a Saturday. After a short introduction to the URBAN INNO Project and the background of the Karlsruhe Pilot, the actual work started with group discussions among the participants about needs in the fields of mobility, eBikes/pedicels and the related infrastructure. Although the whole group was quite small with 13 participants, it still made sense to divide the participants into small groups to ensure diverse approaches towards the addressed topics.

In a first event module, needs with regard to the topic mobility in general have been collected and discussed (needs of different actors, local/regional mobility, etc.). During a second event module, the specific needs of two-wheelers´ mobility have been discussed.

This was followed by an “active” coffee break at which the participants could mark on large maps on the walls their preferred bicycle pathways in the city area and where they would set charging stations for eBikes. After this, the development of a vision for a “sustainable two-wheeler city Karlsruhe 2025+” took place by further group discussions.

Finally, the results of the vision developments have been presented by one representative from each working group and discussed by all participants in the plenum. The event closed with an outlook on how the results will be used by the Town Planning Office and the Economic Development Department of Karlsruhe.


The world café method was successfully adapted to the project and carried out. Such a participation format could easily be implemented by municipalities. The evaluation of the feedback forms shows that the event largely met the expectations of the participants. In addition, interesting results have been created that go far beyond the question of charging infrastructure and energy provision. The results confirm that it is enriching to work in small groups. First, because the individual participants can contribute more effectively and the discussion process is facilitated. On the other hand, different perspectives and priorities can be worked out and later adjusted in plenary. The results partially overlap between the two groups, but there were also significant differences, which is attributable to the different group composition and different previous knowledge and interests of the participants.