Friday, October 31, 2008

Other countries, other problems!

We live in Germany and so do not suffer from the problems faced by cyclists in the UK, i.e. rabid motorists, pedestrians. A recent comment in the excellent AtoB Magazine ( by a Dutch lady was "Only the mad people still ride bicycles in Britain." Germany is well equipped with cycleways that are not a foot wide painted strip down the side of the road. The cycleways do not come up to Dutch standards but in contrast to the UK, Germany is cycling heaven with 40,000km of cycle touring routes and excellent routes in towns and cities. We can cycle the 10-12km into the centre of Mannheim in about 30 minutes or the 20 or km to Heidelberg in somewhat over an hour following a mixture of quiet roads and motor free cycleways. There is one problem especially during rush hours: other cyclists. The folk who cycle these routes every day do not take prisoners and do not find it necessary to use a bell or even call out. One is ambling along enjoying the autumn sun and is suddenly almost shoved out the way by a muscular commuter on a mountain bike who shoots past us closer than either of us finds comfortable. There is an answer to this. We went cycling this summer along the Romantic Road with Experience Plus an American touring cycling company, as guides not as customers. We found out that their customers call out "Cyclist left passing"as they come up behind to pass and they wait until it is convenient for all parties that they pass. It makes for much more pleasant cycling.

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