Cycling in the city of Frankfurt, Germany

by michelle bontrager in


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 furthor encouragement from our Lufthansa agent we agreed to accompany her.  After tucking our bags into the airport’s luggage-hold center and figuring out which of a dozen trains to catch from the terminal we were off to town for the day.

most cyclists have bonnets on their saddles to protect them from the rain

most cyclists have bonnets on their saddles to protect them from the rain

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.
Abus locks, Schwalbe tires, as German as Curry Wurst

Abus locks, Schwalbe tires, as German as Curry Wurst

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.

We're open Weekdays and Saturdays: 10-6, Sundays 11-4, closed on Tuesdays.

Aggressive Automobile Drivers are Dangerous

by michelle bontrager in

Photo credit:   The Truth About Cars

Photo credit:  The Truth About Cars

I was in such a good mood this morning while getting ready for an upcoming trip although my “to do” list has been a force to reckon with for the last few weeks before leaving town.  Early this morning I decided to go for a bike ride and clear my head. As I was traveling with traffic on 32nd  Avenue, towards Golden, a nice pick-up truck pulled up alongside in the adjacent traffic lane.  Gosh, I think I even smiled at the driver because I was in such a silly-good mood. Then suddenly the driver of the pickup truck gunned his engine and sent a plume of exhaust and diesel smoke in my face.

This is a very aggressive act that is used all too many times towards cyclists. Fortunately the driver was soon stuck in traffic as he waited in the line to drop off his daughter at middle school. I remembered that my friend, Charlie, who is involved with Bike Jeffco told me that this is illegal behavior so I took a snap of his license plate, while he was idling in traffic, in order to report this incident to the police.  

One rude man is not going to ruin my day but I believe it is important that cyclists know their rights on the road. I have attached part of Bike Jeffco's Memorandum specifically about this type of behavior known as “Rolling Coal” so that you may be informed if this situation ever happens to you.  Peace.

Rolling Coal is Prohibited but Cyclists are still Being Blasted

.... “Getting choked out by a blast of black soot isn't very fun…and sadly, living in Fort Collins, this is a somewhat regular occurrence.” These dangerous incidents occurred in spite of the Colorado Revised Statutes 42-4-314 (3) (a) that prohibits tampering with an emissions control device and 42-4-314 (6) (a) that prohibits engaging in a nuisance exhibition of motor vehicle exhaust. This makes rolling coal a Class A Violation.
The dangers associated with rolling coal are not benign. Besides the diesel soot cloud being considered carcinogenic and a possible crisis trigger to asthmatics and others with respiratory disorders, the dark cloud could completely obscure a cyclist’s vision of the road and cause a crash.
Colorado State Patrol recommends reporting the incident just as you would with an aggressive driver incident as indicated below:
Action to Take if Coal Rolled
Call: *277 (CSP) Immediately
Provide the dispatcher the following information: the violation of rolling coal, vehicle description, license plate number, location and direction of travel, driver description, and the aggressive driving behavior being demonstrated. You do not have to have the license plate to report. The aggressive driver should be avoided, not making eye contact or giving any indication of disapproval of their driving behavior.
As drivers become more aware of the law prohibiting rolling coal and cyclists are clear on how to report, we should see a reduction in these dangerous incidents that can feel like an assault.
Bike Jeffco would like to thank the Jefferson County Sheriff’s Office and the Colorado State Patrol for their clarification and review of Action to Take.