Friday, October 20, 2017

Financial assistance to buy an e-bike in two German provinces.

The German Federal Government does not have any plans at the moment to offer financial encouragement to purchasers of electro-vehicles, but two provinces are offering assistance to buyers of e-bikes. 

In Saarland purchasers of up to five pedelecs, cargo-pedelecs or electroscooters annually can receive up to 50% of the costs to a maximum of 1000€ for pedelecs and 1500€ for cargo-pedelecs. In addition construction of new parking areas, charging pillars and new projects such as e-bike hire for tourists will be supported.

In Baden-Württemberg the focus is on supporting the use of cargo-pedelecs as alternatives to small delivery vans. Companies, councils and not-for-profit bodies can receive up to 2000€ per vehicle. It is hoped to achieve that 5% of the deliveries in major cities will be made by bicycle and cargo bikes.

Both press releases are in German, but a translator program will yield the main facts of the programmes.

Friday, October 13, 2017

Ciclovia Alpe-Adria-Radweg

Eagle-eyed readers of this blog will have noticed that it has not been published recently. I was in hospital receiving treatment for a blood disease. In my experience every time I meet the medical profession they discover something new and nasty in addition. In this case it was noticed my heart was only working at about 30% efficiency. I had noticed a tendency to breathlessness when climbing hills on the bike or on foot but put it down to colds, allergies and old age. If you feel the same way it is worth popping into your local cardiologist and having a check up. Once my heart had been repaired the oncologists could start giving me a cocktail of chemotherapy drugs. One of the side effects of my blood condition has meant that I  have a fracture of the spine because my lymph nodes are swollen and one these is too close to my spine. In this situation I need a little something to keep me cheerful. Unfortunately I am now too old to flirt with the nurses, so I have been looking at a cycling holiday next year. Whether I need a new electro-bike to help the heart or a new electro-trike to not only help the heart and offer support for my back is not clear, but I have found a suitable route: The Alpe-Adria Cycleway: www.alpe-adria-radweg.com. This runs from Salzburg down to Grado on the Med between Triest and Venice, and one can take a train through the Alps. The first question to be answered is will the Drs recommend that I cycle, at all? I have looked in various forums without becoming much the wiser.

The first problem to be solved is how do we get to Salzburg? We can take a direct train from Mannheim. The e-bike would be no problem. DB German Rail accepts e-bikes.  Most long distance trains do not take trikes or tandems, however. Two manufacturers: HPVelotechnik and ICE offer folding trikes which mean not only are they cheaper to transport, but you can get them onto a train, possibly with difficulty. Folded bikes go free of charge when free. I am going to assume that the same applies to folded trikes.

The second possible problem is getting back from the coast after the trip, but it turns out that this just costs money. We can use a minibus with trailer option from Grado back to Udine, Villach or even Salzburg (www.alpeadria.bike). 

It is a gentle occupation looking at various websites about the areas along the route, hotel accommodation and the railway connections. It is probably the modern day equivalent of reading Cooks International Timetable and a good Atlas, which always struck me as some of the most interesting literature in the world.

Friday, October 06, 2017

New fines for using a mobile/cell phone while riding a bicycle in Germany

It is illegal to use a mobile phone or read, write or send a text message while driving in Germany, not that this stops drivers doing this. The same law applies to cyclists, although the fines for cyclists are lower than for motorists. The on the spot fines have recently been increased and are quite hefty: 55€ if caught using a phone, a tablet or a laptop while cycling. I presume by laptop the authors of the law are referring to Microsoft Surface or a Chromebook of sometime, otherwise it would be awkward to attach to the bike. The mind still boggles about taking one's eyes off the road to send messages or pnone.

Friday, September 29, 2017

Locomore is running trains between Stuttgart and Berlin again

The private train operator Locomore has started up again and is operating in cooperation with Flixbus. You can book your tickets on the Flixbus website: www.flixbus.com. Prices are less than the Deutsche Bahn but the journey is slightly slower than with DB.

Friday, September 22, 2017

Electro Cargo Bikes for Hire in Cologne

I came to Germany about 40 years ago. At that time most German young men drank beer. If a visitor came round it was usual to offer them a bottle of beer, so every two or three weeks one would buy a crate of beer. In those far off days one normally used a car in order to drive to an out of town supermarket to pick up the beer. Trolleys, bike trailers and cargo bikes were unknown. I did not have a car so would walk round to a local shop and stagger back with 20 bottle crate causing my fingers to gradually numb. These days we drink about a crate of beer annually and now there is a possibilty of hiring an electro-cargo bike, in Cologne at least: www.donk-ee.de.

Friday, September 08, 2017

Beer soft drink mixtures for cyclists Part II

We spent a week in Oberstdorf way down south in Bavaria recently and I tried a Russenhalbe. This is a mixture of Weizenbier and lemonade. Avoid it like the plague. It is dreadful.

Friday, September 01, 2017

Reducing air pollution in city centres. Finding room for cycle ways in cities.

Mannheim like many German, nay, European cities is looking to the bicycle as a way to reduce air pollution levels. The idea is to reduce the number of not only diesel powered vehicles on the road in the city centre. New cycle ways are planned, both in city streets and as bike-bahns, bicycle super highways. There are a number of new cycle ways in Mannheim and those that are in city streets take up room that could be utilised by motor traffic, shock horror! Opposition to these measures normally fall in to two classes, either suggesting a different, more inconvenient route along quieter city streets running parallel to a direct route or the end of civilization as we know it argument, that the measures will make shopping in the city centre so inconvenient, that customers will go elsewhere. The latter argument falls down when one notices that many people, us two for example, use public transport to visit the city to buy clothing and outdoor gear. If we decided to buy furniture or white goods - fridge or washing machine we'd have it delivered.
The one thing that most of the petrol heads miss is that although they might be slightly delayed driving their status symbol into Mannheim to find a parking spot or coughing up the tram fare to park the beast, there will be 10 or 15% fewer cars on the road. This will mean the delay will be less. Considering the air quality in cities all the world there are going be restrictions on the use of cars and we might as well get used to it.

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