Wednesday, 4 July 2007

Cycling Cologne, part 1

stack of bikes
Cologne is very bicycle-friendly. All the main roads have bike lanes and there is a 200km bike lane along the banks of the Rhine. Cyclists are also permitted to ride on the pavement in places where there is no cycle lane.

In fact it seems that cyclists are more important than pedestrians, when it comes to the way the roads are laid out. The bike lanes run adjacent to the pavement and are differentiated by red paving stones and painted bike icons.

cycle lane icon
When a pedestrian wants to cross the road they must cross the cycle lane first and must give way to any oncoming bikes. If they don’t they’ll hear a little bell go ding-a-ling in protest from the annoyed cyclist. Of course, I didn’t know these rules when I arrived and ended up jumping out of the way of a fair few irritated cyclists (I refer you back to English to the core).

Cyclists it seems, are able to get away with cycling up a one-way street. Our street is one-way and a cyclist will often come zooming along in the wrong direction – and it’s annoying as it’s harder to dodge out of the way if you’re crossing the road with a pram. I always take the precaution of looking both ways these days. (It’s best anyway, as my brain is still slightly confused by the whole driving on the right of the road thing. I don’t want to be run over so I am extra cautious!)

Me? I don’t cycle. I hold the opinion that it’s okay for other people and is environmentally friendly but it’s not for me. I’d need therapy before I’d get on a bike again: I lost many of my milk teeth in a spectacular head-over-steering-wheel accident I had on a toddler’s wheeled vehicle aged about 6. I’d rather the reassuring feel of tarmac below my feet than two plastic pedals.

To be continued...

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