Tuesday, March 28, 2017

SPEZI Special Bike Show 2017

If you are interested in recumbent bicycles, recumbent tandems, tandems, folding bikes, trikes, four wheeled human powered vehicles, rehab vehicles, e-bikes, bolt on e-bike kits, work bikes, cargo bikes and trailers, then you should plan on visiting SPEZI, the world's most successful specialized bike show in Germersheim/Rhein, Germany on the weekend of 29 and 30 April 2017. For more information check on www.spezialradmesse.de  and click on the union flag.

Friday, March 24, 2017

Bike Friday Haul-a-Day Cargo Bike

Like many cyclists I am fascinated by the concept of the cargo bike. I have this vision of nipping round to our local ALDI store to pick up a mild steel garden frame to take window boxes and popping it on the bike to cycle home. It would obviously a good idea for a weekly shop or our trips to the local dump to pick up compost, but these bikes are normally big and heavy. I mentioned the Tern Cargo Bike a few weeks ago. I have just come across the Bike Friday Haul-a-Day Cargo Bike which can be dismantled/dismounted/knocked down. It can be stacked on its rear end which could be useful in a flat or appartment. It is light enough to go touring. There might even be room in our cellar. A nice bike. More details from https://www.bikefriday.com.

Friday, March 17, 2017

Instant Germanisation

We cycled along part of the Berlin-Copenhagen Cycle Route two or three years ago through wet and windy weather. As usual when we are touring through areas we don't know, we each wore a helmet. In addition we could keep our heads dry by slipping a North Sea Ferries shower cap over the helmet. One day we were met by several hundred schoolchildren on some form of organised cycle day. None of them wore a hemet. It's not usual in Denmark. The bicycle is seen as a means of transport and  cycleways are designed to keep cyclists alive, not as a cosmetic excuse that is true for much of Europe. Cyclists in Denmark don't need extra protection to stay alive. We were somewhat bemused to be greeted by "Hallo!" rather than the Danish "Hej!". "Hallo" is  a standard cyclist's greeting in Germany. It was obvious the kids realised we were not Danes. We were wearing helmets. The majority of non-Danish cyclists in Denmark are Germans and some Germans wear helmets. Logical really, I suppose. It was no great problem. Nobody threw bricks at us. It was just amusing.

Friday, March 10, 2017

Surprising Denmark

We are planning to travel along the Danish-German border later this year. We have bought a guide book to the Grenzroute/Grænseruten as the Germans and the Danes call the route. We were surprised to read that the Danes turn left somewhat differently to the Germans.

In Germany you check the traffic behind you,
when you can, move to the middle of the road,
check the oncoming traffic before you cross the lane to turn left.

In Denmark you cycle on at the junction,
park at the far side of the junction,
check the traffic and then cycle over.
We have seen something similar in Copenhagen with junctions with traffic lights.

When in Denmark if you try to use the German method, and are spotted by the Danish Police, you can be fined 500DKr (about 67€).  The same fines are charged for broken brakes, reflectors and lights, so a word to the wise, check your bike before you cross the border. Whether these are on the spot fines is not clear, but an illegal left turn or a broken reflector could put a modest hole in the holiday  budget.

Friday, March 03, 2017

Post and Packet Deliveries in Cities - Reduction in exhaust emissions

Some weeks ago I suggested that post and package deliveries in towns and cities could be made less polluting by using a "last mile" delivery with cargo bikes. I was interested to read that DHL, the German Post logistics company has a pilot scheme in Utrecht, Netherlands and Frankfurt am Main, Germany to test this concept using four wheel recumbent HPVs with electrical assistance.
“DHL Express has already replaced up to 60% of inner-city vehicle routes in some European countries with cargo bicycles, and we expect that the City Hub and Cubicycle will both help us to accelerate this approach in other markets over the next 3-5 years,” said John Pearson, CEO, DHL Express Europe. “Bicycles offer a number of advantages in express delivery operations: they can bypass traffic congestion and make up to two times as many stops per hour than a delivery vehicle. The total cost of ownership over their lifetime is less than half of a van. And crucially, they generate zero emissions, which reinforces our own ongoing program to minimize our environmental footprint and supports city governments’ efforts to promote sustainable city living.”
The concept of zero pollution is debatable. Obviously the vehicles deliver less pollution in situ, but some of the electricity to charge the batteries will be fossil sourced.
The Cubicycle vehicles used by DHL in these pilot schemes are manufactured by Velove Bikes AB, http://velove.se/.The website offers some interesting ideas about low emission deliveries in towns and cities.

The photographs are, as far as I know, © DHL.

Friday, February 24, 2017

Nightjet Overnight Sleeper trains across Europe Part II

As we reported some weeks ago OeBB, Austrian Railways have taken over the activities of CityNightLine, a DB German Railways subsidiary company and intend to continue offering them. Fewer services are offered, but more than would have been offered if CityNightLine had stayed in business.There is now an overnight Zurich Hamburg train which now travels via Basel, Frankfurt am Main and Berlin. It turns out, or at least it looks like, bikes will be carried after Easter. Check bahn.de if you need to travel.  The hair in the soup is that although the northbound trains leave Mannheim at a minute to midnight and get into Hamburg Hauptbahnhof (Central Station) at a sensible eight thirty-one, the southbound trains leave earlier, just before eight pm and get into Mannheim at four forty which is not the most convenient of trains.

Friday, February 17, 2017

Another event has been suggested to celebrate 200 years of the bicycle

I read recently that further suggestions were being considered by the City of Mannheim to be included in the festivities celebrating Karl Drais's pioneering hobby horse run in June 1817. The suggestion that caught my eye was a naked bicycle ride. OK, Mannheim is usually hot enough in summer to allow cycling in light weight clothing. In fact it is often too hot. If it is put on the official programme which I cannot see, I won't be taking part in this event. On the one hand I am over 70 and my body is no longer a thing of beauty and on the other hand the thought of my naked lower regions coming into contact with a Brooks' leather saddle does not appeal.
Preparations for an earlier clothed mass cycle ride in summer in Mannheim city centre

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