Tuesday, April 24, 2018

Bike Hire in the Moselle Valley

Schaltwerk in Cochem on the Moselle offers a wide range of reasonably priced hire bikes.

Ravenestraße 18-20
56812 COCHEM
T: +49(0)2671 60 35 00
www.schaltwerk-bikes.de (In German, use a translation app)

Friday, April 20, 2018

Gimme a chance, will you?

I managed to be fairly ill last year and was in hospital for three months. One of the side effects of my stay is that I am not sure if my sense of balance is good enough to ride a bike. I am thinking about buying a recumbent trike, but at the moment we try to walk 10 000 steps a day. This means we are in the local woods a lot. As a pedestrian I notice that although cyclists want motorists to pass them with a distance of 1.5m, the same does not seem to apply to them. We have been passed recently by speedy cyclists within 10cm and it's no joke, because I am not that stable. I can move sideways without warning. A request to my fellow cyclists: Do me a favour, play fair and warn us walkers that you there, slow down and give us room. Just say "hallo". It is all we need. We can't always hear you and we are likely to jump the wrong way.

Cyclist-friendly accommodation in Europe

This list is intended to help you find databases giving cyclist-friendly accommodation in Europe:

Germany the ADFC cycle club set up one of the first databases showing cyclist friendly accommodation: www.bettundbike.de in German only.

Austria - In 2013 the Radtouren cooperative project was started with the support of the Ministry of Economic Affairs in Vienna. Information on cyclist-friendly Radhotels are available at https://www.radtouren.at/en/cycling-accommodation-providers/ in English and other languages.

The Czech Republic - based on Bett + Bike. Accommodation is accredited by tourist authorities and must meet certain minimum criteria http://www.cyklistevitani.cz/Uvod.aspx in Czech, English and German.

Denmark - https://www.visitdenmark.com/denmark/bedbike-0 

France - The https://www.francevelotourisme.com/contenus/preparation-et-conseils/accueil-velo/searchpoi_view website offers information about the Accueil Vélo (Welcome Bicycle) project. It is of course all in French.

Italy - Hotels and guesthouses can register on an internet list.Approximately 1000 houses are represented. The hotels and guesthouses describe themselves as cyclist-friendly. The accommodation is not checked and certified. http://www.albergabici.it/en/ in English.

Luxembourg - LVI the Luxembourg cycle club has certified "bed + bike accommodation”. It uses the same logo as the ADFC website and the same criteria. www.bedandbike.lu in French and German.

Montenegro - the first accommodation with the "Montenegro Bed & Bike" sign on the door was located along the national "Top Trails" in the north and the central region of the country. In addition to the well-known bed + bike standards, there are other services such as free jersey washing, luggage transport, booking of the next accommodation and other useful ideas. www.bedandbike.me I am tempted to go, but as the boss just said, “It’s a long way to go just to get your shirt washed.”.

Netherlands - Try https://www.hollandcyclingroutes.com/practical/cycle-friendly-places-and-lodging

Norway - Check http://www.cyclingnorway.no/en/cyclist-welcome/

Slovenia - There is cyclist-friendly accommodation: Hotels, B&Bs and campsites in Slovenia, but you will need to contact the National Tourist Organisation to find out more: www.slovenia.info

Switzerland - Cyclist-friendly accommodation can be found on www.veloland.ch. Hosts must meet certain minimum criteria, which are very similar to those of Bett + Bike

Friday, April 13, 2018

Bed and Bike Luxembourg

The Bed and Bike Luxembourg website now includes a list if cyclist friendly accommodation in eastern Belgium, so if you are planning to cycle the Vennbahn cycle route from Aachen to Troisvierges (Luxembourg) you can information on where to stop. The website is in French and German, so maybe Google Translator will need to be used, but this is better than the original ADFC German website which is now only available in German after some years being bilingual in German and English. Quite why this should be so I don't know. Some years ago we suggested a quick and dirty translation method which was turned down in favour of a bells and whistles luxury full translation, but this was probably too expensive to maintain.

Friday, April 06, 2018

The British railway system does it again and helps cyclists!

One of us is a member of what we still call the CTC, the Cyclists' Touring Club, but is now called Cycling  UK. The name was changed because the management of the club decided that the British public could not understand what the purpose of the club was, even though the name had been good enough for over a hundred years through a recession and two world wars. End of rant! We receive the club's magazine every two months which we read and criticise extensively, but only between ourselves*.
A recent edition included a small brochure tucked into its pages about PlusBike, a cooperation between the British organisation, National Rail, the Enabling Innovation Team and the Bicycle Association of Great Britain. Information useful for cyclists is available under PlusBike on the National Rail website and as free of charge iOS and Android apps.
BikePlus offers information on:
  • Cycle facilities at stations, along with the number of cycle parking space.
  • Cycle-hire at stations or nearby with links directly to them.
  • Cycle carriage rules, including taking cycles on train specific to your rail journey.
  • Whether a cycle needs to be reserved to take on board. 

Whether the usual British lack of provision for cyclists and their bikes has been solved is not clear from the brochure, but at least you can easily find out whether there is space on the train you intend to take.

*Just as examples, we cannot understand the British fashion for bikes without mudguards (fenders) and luggage racks and stands: 
  • Unless you cycle regularly in Arizona or in southern Spain or only on sunny days, lack of mudguards mean that you could end up getting very wet and mucky on a summers day in Wigan. 
  • Lack of a luggage rack means carrying your gear in a rucksack (back pack). Welcome to the sweaty back syndrome unless of course you’re in Wigan on a typical summers day and even then the sun does shine there from time to time. 
  • Stopping for a break without a bike stand means fiddling about looking for convenient wall whereas with a bike stand you can stand the bike by the side of the road.

Monday, April 02, 2018

NOx pollution in German city centres. Is there a cure?

NOx pollution in city centres arising from Diesel powered vehicles is a major problem in Germany. The Federal Government is under pressure from environmental groups and from the EU to reduce levels of pollution in city streets. The government has chosen five communities to act as Lead Cities: Bonn, Essen, Herrenberg, Mannheim and Reutlingen. The original Federal proposal was that the five should just offer free public transport. This idea was rapidly rejected because the communities had insufficient vehicles and staff to meet the expected demand. The five towns and cities were then requested to suggest ways of reducing motorized traffic in centres. The cities delivered their proposals recently. If the suggestions convince the Federal Government, serious financial assistance will be forthcoming. None of the cities in this group wishes to only implement banning vehicles in the city centres.
Bonn called for exhaust gas clean up systems to be fitted to vehicles paid for by the motor manufacturers to reduce pollution. It has been suggested the introduction of a blue sticker to identify cleaner diesel-engined vehicles will enable the choice of vehicles that need to be banned from the city centre. The city intends to persuade more people to use public transport and cycle.  Public transport use will be encouraged by either a regional BahnCard 100 (a go anywhere ticket) for all public transport including long distance trains or a KlimaTicket (Climate Ticket) limited to public transport and regional trains costing €365 annually. These tickets will be matched by electrification of the Voreifelbahn into the Eifel Hills and a new S-Bahn (urban railway) between Bonn and Cologne. New cycleways including a high speed bicycle-Bahn will improve the cycling infrastructure.
Essen wants to increase the number of Park and Ride Stops and build new cycleways.
Herrenberg, a small town, in the Black Forest has suggested creating an app that displays real time traffic information, better bus services, a subsidized monthly season ticket for public transport and financial grants for the purchase of cargo bikes and e-bikes.
Mannheim is keeping its cards very close its chest, but is concentrating on improving its public transport system. There is also a move to build a depot in the harbour close to the city centre where packet services and local deliveries can be transferred to electrically powered vehicles.
Reutlingen is backing the blue sticker to decide which vehicles can enter the own when pollution levels are high. The town council has presented a number of other innovative ideas: Owners of Euro-4 Diesels who are prepared to give up their car for a year could receive an annual season ticket for the public transport system, vouchers for car sharing, vouchers for taxi trips and a Bahncard 50 which offers a 50% price reduction on on long distance rail trips. I think many people would be tempted to hand their car papers in for a year for an offer like that. The town council is also working on ways to make public transport more attractive.


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