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Do you need a license to ride a bike in Germany?

A few weeks ago, my son came home, excitedly storming into the kitchen, where I was just having coffee with a friend, shouting:

Ich habe jetzt den Fahrradführerschein! (Now I’ve got the bike licence!)

My friend had not been living in Germany for long, and she was shocked: Do you need a license to ride a bike in Germany???

Find out why children in Germany take a ‘bike exam’ and what this exam is all about!

What do children need to know to pass the Fahrradführerschein (bike license)?

At school in year three or four, children in Germany take two exams about riding a bike: a written and a practical exam.

These two combined are called ‘Fahrradprüfung’

The structure of this test is similar to the one of driving tests for a car:


First, the children will learn the theory like traffic signs or right of way rules. This is within their normal lessons at school taught by their teacher.

Practical training

They will also receive practical training: learning how to turn left, ride past a parked car, behave properly, … but also some basic first aid skills.

bike training for children

Finally, it’s time for the exams:

Written Exam

The layout of the written exam is quite similar to the one that is used for the driving license. But the children will also need to explain why certain rules are important or why a situation is dangerous.

Practical Exam

There will also be a practical exam: For about 10 – 15 minutes, the children are being watched by police officers while they are riding their bikes in a training area – and if they make too many mistakes, they will fail.

If the children master both exams, they will receive a bike license.

Having obtained this bike license, the children get to practice their skills in real traffic on their own bikes – still under the guidance of the police officers. These police officers will also check every bike to see if it fulfills the safety rules!

This is also a good opportunity for parents to make sure the bike is safe to ride before the child will start riding on the street.

Why is there a bike training for children?

There are good reasons for teaching children how to move safely in traffic at that age.

First, there are legal rules:

In Germany, children up to the age of 8 years are obliged to ride their bikes on the sidewalk. They are still allowed to ride on the sidewalk if they aren’t older than 10 years.

But from 11 years onward they are obliged to use the street or the bike lane!

So, by the time they reach this age they should be able to ride safely and know the traffic rules.

After all, children in Germany are supposed to become independent from an early age on. They walk to school or take public transport to get to school by themselves shortly after starting school, i.e. at the age of 6.

Being able to ride a bike opens entirely new dimensions of moving around even over longer distances! As the parents aren’t there to watch them, they will need to be able to watch out for themselves.

However, taking part in road traffic requires a high level of concentration and motor skills

For example, they need to be able to ride single-handed when they give hand signals before turning left or right.

At the same time, for turning left, they must follow the complex series of looking over the shoulder, getting into the right lane, being aware of cars or pedestrians …

These are skills that most children are able to acquire by the age of nine.

By that time, they will also develop an understanding of preventive measures that can reduce accidents.

This is why the cycling test takes place during the 3rd or 4th grade when most pupils are eight or nine years old and is therefore included in the school’s curriculum.

The curriculum of Bavaria states:

Als Verkehrsteilnehmer (z. B. mit dem Fahrrad) handeln sie vorausschauend, regelgerecht, sicherheitsbewusst und rücksichtsvoll.
(As road users (e.g. by bicycle), you act with foresight, respect the rules, and are safety-conscious and considerate.)

What’s the most exciting part of the bike training?

All the practical training is being taught and supervised by real police officers in real uniforms!

Maybe this experience is one of the reasons why Germans tend to have a very high opinion of policemen.

What happens if you don’t have a Fahrradführerschein?

If a child fails the test, what happens is … nothing.

He or she will be allowed to take part in traffic anyway.

It is rather some sort of feedback for the child and his or her parents: Is my child able to move around without being supervised in traffic? Should I give more support?

Fortunately, it doesn’t happen very often that a child fails this test.

The overall concept of the “license” is rather designed to show the children the importance of knowing what to do when taking part in traffic. And this can be a lifesaver for the child!

What is the content of the bike training?

The training includes the following topics:

Getting familiar with the bike

Getting safely on and off the bike from both sides.

Starting and braking e.g.: Before setting off: look around, observe the following traffic, and reach basic speed quickly so that the handlebars do not dangle from instability

Use of paths

e.g. Regulations for the use of cycle paths

or: At the zebra crossing: Cyclists must show consideration for pedestrians

Different surfaces ...

... (tar, gravel, etc.) and riding the bike accordingly

Right of way

All right-of-way signs must be learned and understood by the children. They need to know the rule “right before left” that applies to unmarked junctions and crossings.

Overtaking and turning right or left

Three things must first and foremost be observed for overtaking: Indication of the overtaking, no endangerment of the person to be overtaken, and safe re-entry.

Turning left includes even 8 steps:

1. Look around (for any overtaking vehicles pay attention)

2. Give hand signals

3. Align towards the middle of the lane (on the right-hand side of the turning lane)

4. Pay attention to the right of way

5. Let oncoming traffic pass (It has right of way)

6. Look around again (so faster vehicles don't yet overtake

7. Turning (hands on the handlebar)

8. Watch out for pedestrians


Features of an operational and safe bicycle

The Safety aspect of a bicycle helmet

Considerate behavior towards all road users

Awareness of potentially dangerous situations - such as the blind spot on trucks and buses.

Basics of first aid

Does having a bike-license mean that a child can take part in any kind of traffic?

No, unfortunately, that’s not what it means.

Children can only correctly assess the speeds and distances of vehicles when they are around 10-12 years old. And it is only from the age of 15 that they can fully assess complex traffic situations.

And as to turning left … there are even few adults who remember exactly how to turn left on a bike. Therefore, at a bigger crossing, it might be a good idea to get off the bike and cross the street as a pedestrian, pushing the bike.




So, in the end, my friend was relieved that she doesn’t have to take a bike test to live in Germany - especially as it's quite a lot of things that children need to learn and apply!

Do you think that you would pass this test without any problems?


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