Sunday, August 09, 2009

Allow more time!

Neil spent many years cycling between Viernheim and Weinheim every working day and could time his journey to the minute. Our tours and excursions often start by cycling into Mannheim to catch a train there. It is about 14 km door to door and we used to reckon we needed a maximum of 50 minutes, on laden bikes. Once recently we missed our first train and arrived panting 2 minutes in advance of our connection the other day. We don’t think we’ve slowed up appreciably but have miscalculated delays due to traffic lights, road works or other cyclists.
Though most of our route is on cycleways parallel to roads, there are several major junctions involving traffic lights. One of these has been rejigged because it now carries a tram route. Another involves crossing a dual carriageway where there is no link between the lights and very little space on the centre refuge.
As an attempt to boost the building industry and provide jobs Mannheim has received a massive package of Federal Government Aid to be spent on public works. All well and good but we were upset to find our main route past the Rosengarten Concert Hall/Conference Centre complex was virtually blocked by trucks, sand and in one case steps! However, cyclists do have some lobbying power here in Germany and we were relieved to see, on our next visit, that although the pavement renewal was still proceeding space had been left for cyclists and tarmac ramps replaced the steps.
As to our fellow cyclists there is little one can do about someone as wide as both of us put together occupying the middle of a cycle lane, someone just out to buy his morning paper wearing flip-flops and riding a bike perhaps older than either of us or a pair locked in a loving embrace straddling the cycleway...except allow more time!

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