Tuesday, July 31, 2018

Is riding an e-bike as good for you as riding a normal bike?

There is an article in today's Mail Online (http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-6001373/Riding-electric-bicycle-just-healthy-pedalling-normal-bike-researchers-say.html) that reports on work done at the University of Basel in Switzerland that has shown similar improvements in fitness amongst overweight unfit patients riding e-bikes as those riding normal bicycles. The addition of the motor allowed longer rides.
The only niggle I would have with the article is that the photograph accompanying the article shows a man pedalling a non-electric Klapprad.

Monday, July 23, 2018

An interesting article about e-bikes

Slight plug to start with. We wrote a book on cycling in Switzerland some years ago now. It was published by The Cicerone Press in Northern England. Cicerone originally published books about hill walking and mountaineering. Later the company branched out additionally into books about cycle touring and fell running. The company produces a digital newsletter for which we have contributed the odd article. I was just sent the latest version of the newsletter in which there is a article on e-biking in the Alps. Paean of praise would be a better description. We are in process of buying e-bikes or maybe e-trikes so I found the article: https://www.cicerone.co.uk/e-bikes-are-just-for-softies an excellent introduction into using e-bikes. If the £2000 to £3000 price tag of a decent e-bike puts you off buying an e-bike, do not forget that you can hire e-bikes in just about all tourist areas on the continent which cuts out the problems of transporting the bikes from home.

Saturday, July 14, 2018

Speed pedelecs mixing with normal cycle traffic?

A few weeks ago I read about the new EU regulations meaning that e-bikes should be insured and thought this would make e-bikes/pedelecs less popular. I was not in favour of this idea, but I think I am changing my mind with the latest news from Denmark. Although the insurance changes could well be the start of compulsory helmet wearing, licence plates for bikes, bike riding tests and probably insurance for normal bicycles and their riders. A normal pedelec within the European Union is designed to have a maximum powered speed of 25kph (15mph). If you wish to reach speeds faster that 25kph you will need to pedal and considering that most e-bikes are heavy you (at least I) cannot cycle fast for that long. There are e-bikes that can be ridden faster up to 45kph, but these are treated as mopeds or light motorcycles and banned from using cycle paths.

Some Dutch cycle paths especially in cities allow mopeds and light motorcycles to use bike paths and these cycle paths do not make for easy cycling. Playing chicken with pimply-faced youths on souped-up mopeds or scooters is not my idea of enjoying cycling touring. One of my more unpleasant cycle touring experiences was crossing the Belgian city of Ghent on cycle tracks in the morning rush hours. Apart from a group of people moving house towing trailers carrying beds and wardrobes we were continually being harassed by commuters on their work. They made their displeasure very plain at being held up as we checked our route. Just to explain, although my wife and I are well past the biblical three score years and ten, we have both cycled extensively. We are not nervous cyclists. We are not whiteheads who have recently taken up cycling. We are experienced cyclists. I commuted by bike from the central station in Frankfurt two or three km to the office for at least ten years.

We have cycled in Denmark and was impressed by the way that there is excellent provision for cyclists even in cities. Cycle traffic at speeds between 20 and 25kph is largely kept separate from slower moving traffic (pedestrians) and faster motor traffic. I was therefore more than somewhat surprised to read that the regulations in Denmark have been changed to allow high speed e-bikes to use cycle lanes (https://cleantechnica.com/2018/07/02/e-bikes-can-now-go-crazy-fast-in-danish-bike-lanes/). The stated aim is that commuters who presently drive cars will transfer to high speed e-bikes. However this ignores the advice of The Danish National Police, The Council for Safer Traffic, The Accident Investigation Board Denmark, The Danish Cyclists’ Federation, and The Danish Pedestrian Federation, who have all warned that  higher speeds mean more accidents and injuries. High speed e-bikes are not only fast but heavy. If there is a collision, it's every man, woman and child for him- or herself. The inherent dangers of mixing high speed e-bikes, e-bikes, normal bicycles and especially in Denmark cargo bikes are plain to see. There is a good chance that many cyclists will give up cycling in spite of its advantages. Whether the Danish move is a deliberate attempt to make utilitarian cycling less popular I will leave to the conspiracy theorists, but I do wonder what the Danish government is doing? To be fair the change will be evaluated in a year, but still…

There is a way around this problem of decreasing the number of cars on the road while still allowing fast commutes: Build special bike tracks (cycling superhighways) for these faster vehicles. These however cost money. The costs of the planned Heidelberg - Mannheim fast bicycling link (23km long) (https://rp.baden-wuerttemberg.de/rpk/Abt4/Ref44/Seiten/Radschnellverbindung_HD_MA.aspx) will cost about 12 million Euros. Eighty per cent of the route will be at least 4m wide,  lit at nights with a smooth good quality asphalt but have a Richtgeschwindigkeit (design speed) of just 30kph - less than a possible 45kph. The Heidelberg-Mannheim link will take several years to be realised.

Thursday, June 28, 2018

Riding in the snow

The eagle-eyed reader of this blog will have noticed a blog just over a year ago (19 May 2017) about winter cycling in Finland. I was recently sent a link to short film about a group of hardy souls cycling across a National Park in Finland in February - "Arctic Cycle" under https://www.groundeffect.co.nz/blogs/news/. Lovely photography. The film is well worth watching.

Ground Effect is a biking clothing company in New Zealand (www.groundeffect.co.nz). They make good gear, in fact great gear. We have a number of their biking jersys and shirts. We started buying stuff from them because the company offers summer weight cycling jerseys with long sleeves. I have suffered from skin cancer so I prefer to wear clothing to cover up in the sun rather than using a sun cream. There is only one problem: The clothing is fairly priced, but there is a sting in the tail. Not only must one pay duty and VAT on the clothing when it arrives in Europe, but also when the goods are presented to customs, you need to pay the carrier - £8 in the UK for each package for this arduous work if you have your order sent air mail. If memory serves me rightly FedEx, the other carrier used by Ground Effect charges more. If your order comes in two packets it can get quite expensive.

Monday, June 18, 2018

East Frisia

Ostfriesland (East Frisia) is the stretch of Germany between the Dutch - German border on the River Ems to Wilhemshaven. It is great cycling country criss crossed by cycle routes with a multitude of bike hire shops.
The people of East Frisia have the reputation of being slow, non intelligent. There are large number of East Frisian jokes in German often the same as Irish jokes in English. If the East Frisians are thick which I doubt, they have been sensible enough to adopt the Dutch knooppunt system of route guidance. This makes navigation very easy. We have been trying for some time to persuade the local cycling club to push for the adoption of this navigation aid, but the attitude appears to be one of  “I know how to get to where I am going. Do we need any more navigation aids or GPS systems are more than adequate.”

Friday, May 25, 2018

Human powered trike hire in continental Europe

Although you can hire bicycles and even e-bikes in most European cities and towns, very few shops or organisations offer trikes for hire. We have looked at the rental market for trikes and there are not many companies offering trikes for a one or two week period. Some shops really only offer trikes for hire as a way of letting the customer try a various models for a few hours to help in deciding which trike to buy. We will not list these organisations, just the ones we think offer a week's hire. We do not recommend any of these companies nor does omission from this list inply any criticism. The majority of the websites are in a foreign language. If you don't read this language use a translation app to convert the text into something that is similar to english. In any case it is not possible to pick up a trike in one shop and drop it off somewhere else, so you will need to plan a circular route. BTW if you wish to put the trike on a train, make sure it is a foldable trike, because continental railways will not carry unfolded trikes. If you try to smuggle the trike onto a train, Murphy's Law means you will meet a jobsworth who will throw you off the train at the next station. AZUB, HPVelotechnik and ICE offer foldable trikes. If you wish to hire a trike and do not speak the local language write to the company of your choice in simple English to reserve your trike/s.

The following companies offer trike rental for more than one day.

Locations 
If your European geography is not up to much, use Apple or Google mapping apps to find the locations.

GERMANY 

LLR Lausitzer Liegerad GmbH, Frank Budich, Dorfstraße 18,  01968 Senftenberg / Niemtsch, Tel: +49 (0)160 350 2949, Email: info @ lausitzer-liegeradverleih . de (Leave out blanks), Website: http://www.lausitzer-liegeradverleih.de (in German), Brands: ICE, KMX, We have no information about prices. The Lausitz lies between Dresden and Cottbus near the German - Polish border with good access to the River Spree, the Oder - Neise cycle route and extensive landscaped lakes formed from opencast mining sites. 

Ostsee3rad, Olaf Reinike, Lindenweg 41, 23974 Alt Farpen, Tel: 0151 50589799, Website: https://ostsee3rad.de (In German), Email: info @ ostsee3rad.de (Leave the blanks out!), Cost: 25-50€/day, 125-250€/week, 70-100€/additional week, Brands: Anthrotech, Hase, ICE, KMX,  
Pick up and drop off of the trikes from a railway station:
ostsee3rad will deliver trikes to the mainline station in Wismar and pick them up at the end of your tour. This service is free of charge for a rental period of at least five days. The company can also transport your luggage to your hotel. Price on application.
One way trips: 
The company is prepared to pick up trikes and their riders either after a day trip or a longer several day tour along the coast. Costs on application. 


mietrad.de, Schillerstraße 43 - 45, 27472 Cuxhaven, Tel.: 04721/554100, Website: https://www.cuxhaven-mietrad.de/, Email: info @ mietrad.de (Leave the blanks out!), Cost 20€/day. Discount for multiday hire, Brand: Hase

Tetrion Spezialräder, D-46537 Dinslaken, Tel: +49(0)2064-472566, Website: http://www.tetrion.de (in German), E-mail: tetrion @ tetrion . de (Leave the blanks out!), Brands: Flux, Flevobike, Hase, HP Velotechnik, KMX, ICE, AnthroTech, Traix, No information about prices.

TRAIX CYCLES, Dortmunder Str. 1, D-48155 Münster, T: +49 (0)251.20891037, Fax: +49 251.20891039, http://www.traix.de (In German and English, but there is no mention of trike hire in the english version, E-mail: info @ traix.de (Leave the blanks out!)  Cost: 12-85€/day, 60-425€/week, Brands: Hase, HP Velotechnik, ICE, KMX. With 4500km of cycle ways, nine major cycle routes and some of the cyclist friendliest towns and cities in Germany the Münsterland is one of the best places to cycle in the country.

VELOCITY Stahlroß Fahrradladen GmbH, Belderberg 18, 53111 Bonn, Tel.: (0)228 / 981366-0, Website: www.velo-city.de (in German), E-Mail: miet-me@velo-city.de Cost: 30€/day, 60€/weekend, 120€/week, Brands: Hase, HPVelotechnik. Hire period limited to one week, which if my calculations are correct, is enough time to cycle the ca. 400km from Bonn to Aachen via the Rhine and Ahr Valleys and the Vennbahn followed by a trip back across country to Bonn, as long as your leg muscles are up to the mark.


VMW VeloMobilWerk, Sebastian Kittlitz, Dorfstr. 36, 85435 Erding Tel.: +49 (0)8122-558860, Fax: +49 (0)8122-558861,  
Radhaus Erding, Sebastian Kittlitz, Landshuter Str. 39, 85435 Erding, Tel.: +49(0)8122-9660064 
Website: http://velomobilwerk.de/ (in German),  E-Mail: info @ velomobilwerk.de, (Leave the blanks out!), Erding lies north of Munich. The area offers extensive cycle routes. VMW offers KMX and Sinner trikes with and without electrical assistance for 30 Euros a day.


Zweirad HeinsBeckersbergstrasse 78, 24558 Henstedt Ulzburg, Tel: +49 (0)4193 / 758423, Website: www.zweirad-heins.de (in German), E-mail: info @ zweirad-heins . de (Leave the blanks out!), Cost: No information, Brands: Hase


NETHERLANDS


Cycling in the Netherlands is superb, but flat and windy with great cycling facilities and signposting. I always feel like taking the various European Ministers of Transport there and "Look, this is how it's done! This is how you get people cycling."

Advanced Cycle Engineering, Weurden 60,  Winterswijk 7101 NL,  Tel.: +31 543530905, Website: www.ace-shop.com (in English, Dutch, German), info @ ace-shop.com (Leave the blanks out!), Cost: Trike 40€ / day, E-Trike 61€ / day, Discount for multiday hire, Brands: Hase, HPVelo, ICE, Winterswijk is just over Dutch-German border on Rhine Plain west of Münster, Germany. With 4500km of cycle ways, nine major cycle routes and some of the cyclist friendliest towns and cities in Germany the Münsterland is one of the best places to cycle in the country.


Maia Dordrecht, Stevensweg 79a, Dordrecht, 3319AJ, Tel.:  +31 78 616 6302, Website: www.maialigfiets.nl (in Dutch), E-mail: info @ maialigfiets.nl (Leave the blanks out!), Cost: 39.50 - 69.50€ / day Discount for multiday hire, Brands: AZUB, Hase, HPVelo, Dordrecht is near Rotterdam. 


Maia Leiden, Energieweg 67, Zoeterwoude, 2382ND,  Tel.: +31 71 203 7999, Website: www.maialigfiets.nl (in Dutch), E-mail: leiden @ maialigfiets.nl (Leave the blanks out!), Cost: 39.50 - 69.50€ / day Discount for multiday hire, Brands: AZUB, Hase, HPVelo, Leiden is between The Hague and Amsterdam

FRANCE

Roulcouché, 32 bis-34 rue de la gare, 775 80  Guerárd,  Tel.: +33 (0)164047332, Website: www.roulcouche.com, E-mail: info @ roulcouche .com (Leave the blanks out!), Cost: First day 40-50€, Following days 20-30€, Brands: AZUB, Hase, Guerárd is 45km east of Paris. 




Wednesday, May 02, 2018

Bett und Bike in English soon

We went to SPEZI in Germersheim am Rhein over the weekend and complained to the volunteers on the ADFC stand that the recently published new app and the online database was only available in German. The Bett und Bike representative on the stand assured me that an English version will be published this month. The online database is available under www.bettundbike.de.
(Editorial note: I notice on 8 June 2018 that the addition of English still has not happened. I will drop the ADFC a line to politely enquire what's up.)

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