A few weeks ago my brother, our friend Chris, and I had an unavoidable eight-hour layover at the Frankfurt airport while traveling to our vacation destination. Typically I don’t get excited about such layovers I simply utilize the time to nap before the next leg of the journey but Chris was adamant that we all trug into Frankfurt’s town center for a look and with adamant encouragement from our Lufthansa agent we agreed to accompany her. After tucking our luggage into the airport’s luggage-hold center, figuring out which of a dozen trains to catch from the terminal, we were off to town for the day.
It’s been over six years since I’ve traveled through Germany and was immediately reminded of the cycling culture that I had enjoyed on those visits. Even on a grey drizzly February morning the Frankfurters were out and about on their bicycles!
Pleasures enjoyed by City Cyclists in Frankfurt, Germany
- German city dwellers ride slowly in regular street clothes, not a stitch of lycra was seen
- All of the bicycles featured a cargo carrying area, either a rack or a basket or both
- Most of the bicycles have fenders
- Bicyclists have the right-away in traffic, above cars and pedestrians, in fact cyclists are free to ride on streets, bicycle paths, and even on the sidewalk with pedestrians
- Everyone is totally calm and paying attention to traffic, neither pedestrians nor car drivers exhibit anger or impatience with cyclists.
I haven’t ridden a lot in German metropolitan centers like Frankfurt but have completed two bicycle tours through the German countryside with my husband. On those trips we primarily rode on bicycle paths. The government designed an all-national, intricate bicycle path system that leads cyclists along scenic countryside routes and seamlessly through the small cities and towns in-between. The few times we chose to ride on tarmac the motorized vehicles gave us plenty of berth.
It was so refreshing to be in a bicycle centric culture if only for a day. I ask, why can’t our communities adopt some of the German bicycle infrastructure design?
My bicycle rights wish list
- Bicycle boulevards that crisscross Denver's city center enabling cyclists to reach their destinations without the hassle of yielding to motorized vehicles at every intersection
- enforcement of the existing traffic laws that support cyclists
- Alert and attentive car drivers.
l will continue to ride my bicycle throughout my home city even if cyclists aren’t allowed the same rights as our Northern Europe brethren. The more of us that are on the streets the more likely are rights will be recognized.
Recommendations for riding with city traffic;
- remain cognizant of your surroundings
- obey the traffic laws as much as possible
- hold your line
- remain calm.
Riding a bicycle designed specifically for city riding makes the entire experience all that more enjoyable. At Queen City Cycle we sell the Breezer brand of transportation bicycles which are specifically designed in the European tradition. For as little as $450 you have a solid bicycle sporting an upright riding position that handles well in traffic and allows the rider to observe her surroundings easily. A city bicycle, like a Breezer, is the first step towards incorporating cycling to your daily, active routine.
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