Monday, August 12, 2013

Cycling in Berlin

We had heard that Berlin is a bike-friendly city and it certainly is true - also in the sense that the city is huge and you need a bike to get around unless you've brought some very good walking shoes and know the public transport system. There are plenty of places to rent a bike from, or to buy a decent used bike if you're staying longer.

There are plenty of bike paths, conveniently located so that pedestrians are unlikely to wander onto them. In some cases there was construction work being done on the street and the original bike path was dug open, but a new one was always drawn on the ground so the path wouldn't just abruptly stop at a wall or a high curb like in many other cities we've visited.

Germans seem to love building bike and pedestrian lanes (as well as whole streets and roads) out of concrete tiles in different shapes and sizes. This is fine as long as they're in good condition, but we've cycled on some pretty rough, bulging surfaces elsewhere in Germany, with grass growing between the tiles. The bike lanes were pretty smooth here, but on some of the streets where you cycle among the traffic the old cobblestones will rattle your bike so you can hear the chain hitting against the frame. And watch out for the tram tracks!

However, riding in traffic is no problem because the drivers are super friendly and will give you way as long as you follow the rules and let them know where you're going. It's often OK to ride against traffic on one-way streets, but the bike lanes are usually one-way only unlike Finnish ones so make sure you're going in the right direction to keep the bike traffic going smoothly!

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