جمعة, 04/25/2014

Bicycle City Berlin

The best way to experience and get around in Berlin is by bike. The city has almost no hills, which makes it a cyclist's paradise in which plenty of bike tours are offered and bikes can be rented almost on any corner. Within the inner city a bike makes you more flexible and faster compared to public transportation and walking and it allows you to use paths in parks and short cuts unavailable for cars.

Besides experiencing the city from a different viewpoint and getting faster and closer to the sights, shops and restaurants riding a bike is also an extremely healthy pastime which has the advantage that one can exercise while one is cycling to work, to meet friends or to the super market because most of those destinations are within an acceptable distance, which can be put back by bike.

So here are some more reasons to start bike riding: it burns calories, tones your body, is good for your knees and joints and protects your heart. But riding a bike is not quite save I hear you say. Well it depends. I have been riding a bike since I am 8 years old and never had a serious accident although I once fell of my bike while – successfully – trying to avoid an accident with a child suddenly appearing between parked cars and running on the street without looking. I did not even wear a helmet then. Everything that happened were grazes on one knee and on my cellphone which fell out my pocket. What actually saved me from more was the thought to hold my head up and my biker gloves which protected my hands when they grazed of the asphalt.

Riding a bike involves looking and thinking ahead what others might do to avoid unpleasant or even dangerous situations. That is especially true on the numerous cycling paths that Berlin offers. The reason is that many pedestrians, other cyclists and – on intersections – turning cars quite too often do not observe cyclists as they are supposed to. Another aspect is to feel comfortable with your bike. That means to know it well and to practice riding it. For example one should be able to turn the head back to see what is behind before shifting lanes without turning the body. Turning the body results in pulling the handlebars and that means the bike will leave its designated path which could result in conflicts with other cyclists or even cars. With that in mind cycling is a safe thing in Berlin and serious accidents are very, very rare.

On the website of the British newspaper The Guardian I found a user-generated list of ten points why hopping on your bike is so great. While reading through it I discovered that the things said there are also true for Berlin and the rural areas surrounding it. The ones I liked most are: it makes you feel better, it saves you time, one can stop and take in the surroundings and it is an adventure. So when in Berlin get a bike, hop on it, tour the city and relax after it laying in the sun in one of the many parks.