Cycling In Germany: It Takes a Nation of Schumachers To Hold Me Back
Since arriving in Berlin and procuring what was I assume a completely legally obtained bike from a friendly second hand dealer in a local flea market I’ve come to regard it as a proverbial pedalists paradise. Well, in contrast to previous glass strewn bike lanes of Scouseland anyway. No more must I be on the watch out for taxi drivers who consider the fact that the cycle lane does not contain a speed bump to be an open invitation to get thoroughly involved. Cycling routes snake across the city making it possible to navigate from A to B (or as the Germans would say A nach B) whilst avoiding unnecessary games of chicken with assorted BMW, Audi or Volkswagen. Given my penchant for accidental dissembarkments, bonnet surfing and my head’s seemingly uncontrollable gravitational force towards objects much harder than itself, this is nothing but a good thing. And everybody cycles here, only the other day I noticed what looked like an Octogenarian passing in the other direction and given she was rocking at a fair old pace the face tuck provided by the wind probably knocked 20 years off the old dear.
A few curious things have cropped whilst on pedal power around the German capital that I thought I’d throw my 2 cents in to the ring for. One thing that i genuinely can’t get my head around is that it is illegal here to cycle without a bloody dynamo light attached to your bike. As if my puny twiglet legs aren’t issue enough I’m supposed to attach a third break to my front wheel that sounds like an asthmatic donkey and has the illumination powers of a damp candle in a stiff breeze. I’ll take my chances with an LED light thanks all the same…and whilst the asthetics of legally requiring a working bell to your bike appeal more I’m yet to find one that doesn’t sound camper than Christmas to further tarnishing my already heavily damaged macho reputation.
One curious habit I’ve noticed of the old Deutschlanders is that waiting at a traffic light appears to offer up a chance to partake in some role playing, most people taking the guise of a famous native F1 driver and getting involved in some dodgy overtaking manoeuvres. Quite happily perched at a red light its apparently commonplace for some good old fashioned jostling for position prior to getting the nod from the jovial green man. This would be fine aside from the fact that it appears approach velocity to the lights is not considered for this starting grid line up and the old, infirm and obese will quite happily plonk themselves in front of you prior to the off. Thus ensues a slow moving pelaton away from the lights until this sort themselves out just in time for the next red man, and don’t consider jumping that light, a €130 fine awaits if you do. (On that note I find it curious Berliners continually float various laws such as the smoking ban yet rarely will you find someone who dares to cross the red man of justice at the lights.)
That said Berlin is great for cycling and providing a fruitful training area for the Eurotrip ahead