LUDWIGSBURG. Dirk Zedler is a cyclist and a cycle tester by passion. For 27 years, the former triathlete has been fighting with his Ludwigsburg institute for bicycle technology and safety against the mess happening to bicycles. As an expert witness for bicycles and e-bikes the graduate automotive engineer has been drawing up expert’s reports for the courts, insurers and manufacturers since the foundation of the company in 1993. He identifies hazard potentials on bikes as well as risks for cyclists. “Who needs that”, Zedler remembers. This was a question at the Chamber of Commerce and Industry when he registered his test engineering company. Meanwhile his team has grown to 27 employees. Since the change of the institute’s name in 2010 its turnover has been growing by 20 percent per year - to 2.5 million euro recently.
Since then, Zedler and his test engineers have drawn up thousands of experts reports and carried out laboratory tests on the machines they have developed themselves, mercilessly uncovering faulty products - especially for manufacturers long before production starts. The machines in the labs torture handlebars, forks, wheels, saddles and seat posts or brakes to their maximum loads - and beyond. “Within three to five days we reproduce an entire bicycle life”, declares Zedler. The damage is documented - from microcracking to fracture. “Bicycles should be as safe as possible”, is the credo of the 58-year old. “As weak points pose risks.” The industry has discovered the topic safety for themselves - and Zedler has played his part. 70 manufacturers from Europe, the USA and Asia send handlebars and other parts to Ludwigsburg to have the durability tested. Technical documentation is created for 100 producers.
However, the entrepreneur not only aims at making bicycles and e-bikes more user friendly, more endurable and safer, he also wants to operate a sustainable business that takes as little from nature as possible.” For this, the German Sustainable Building Council (DGNB), comprising 120 member organisations, awarded Zedler-Institut the highest level of certification in platinum. In addition, DGNB chairman Johannes Kreissig awarded the company headquarters the “climate positive” status as one of eleven commercial buildings in Germany. The combination of both awards is only available twice worldwide.
"Our building saves more carbon dioxide - even during operation - than it produces," Dirk Zedler said happily on the occasion of the award ceremony. This is confirmed by DGNB chairman Kreissig, who hopes that the platinum plaque will be given a "prominent place". The certificates will find their place at the “Wall of Fame” with all awards Zedler has obtained to date. “Wall of Fail” is the adjacent wall in the hallway where broken handlebars, frames or saddles have found their place. "Soon we will no longer be able to imagine building new houses that consume energy," said Kreissig at the award ceremony, looking ahead to the near future. The DGNB chairman is certain that solutions will be also found for older buildings.
“You are wearing the green jersey”, the Ludwigsburg Member of the Landtag for the German Green Party Juergen Walter alluded to the Tour de France. “Or the dotted jersey for the mountain classification.” In his laudation, Walter pointed out the holistic approach for the company and the building. A few years ago, nobody would have believed that cycling would experience such a big boom", Walter emphasises and draws a bow of 200 years back to the time of Baron of Drais. “The inventor invented the draisine, his wheel to replace horses as load and transport animals.” Many died or had to be slaughtered after 1815 after failed harvests and the following famine. “In these days, we have to invent the place for the cyclists,” says Walter in view of the climate and mobility crisis. He dreams of a bicycle-friendly Ludwigsburg and of freeing the streets around the market place, above all Wilhelmstrasse and Koernerstrasse, from automotive traffic for a whole summer long. “We are making progress with the car-free Willhelmstrasse”, states Matthias Knobloch. The Head of the Sustainable Mobility Department of the city of Ludwigsburg makes out a change of the bicycle from the “weekend means of conveyance towards a real means of transport”. This was a finding from the corona crisis. “We have found out: There are also alternatives,” says the mobility expert. The question is: “Do we learn from the crisis?” The city alone will not be able to. “We need committed citizens and companies to help shape change.”
Author: Hubert Dreher