Monday, March 31, 2014

An easy way to carry shopping and loads on a bicycle

Two of the many things that cause my blood pressure to rise are seeing people riding a bike with a heavy rucksack or trying to steer while clutching one or two heavily laden shopping bags. To be fair it is not always possible or convenient to use panniers while shopping or you may not want to buy shopper pannier bags or a trailer. We were both pleased to find a sensible device at the VELOBerlin bike show last weekend that modifies a normal baggage rack to carry shopping bags, rucksacks, IKEA blue carrier bags and almost anything else safely.
Copyright: Darius M. Hajiani

It's simple to build yourself either in cardboard, in metal or in metal/plastic sheet. There are plans to manufacture and sell the product or offer licences to manufacturers. Check It would be quite useful for touring especially when camping too. It is a good, simple, cheap idea that brings flexibility to load carrying.

Monday, March 24, 2014

Vennbahn revisited

We went to the annual Frankfurt cycle touring fair yesterday, We spent some time talking to the LVI - the Luxembourg Cycle Club about what to to do after cycling the Vennbahn. This starts in Aachen and finishes in Troisvierges in the North of the Grand Duchy. We learned several items of interest:
  • The signposting on the Vennbahn has been improved.
  • The Vennbahn is not all tarmac
  • Cycling on after the Vennbahn in Luxembourg is not easy. You can cycle East into Belgium and pick up the Ravel route to Bastogne. From there you can cycle to Wiltz in Luxembourg, then cycle along the Piste Cyclable des Ardennes to reach the Sûre Valley to cycle to Echternach or on to Wasserbillig on the Mosel. Once on the Mosel you can cycle downstream to Koblenz, turn off on to the Saar Cycle Route to Saarbrücken or cycle upstream to Nancy. From Echternach take a pleasant cycle route to Luxembourg City.                                     
  • OR you can take any Luxembourg Railway train from Troisvierges to Luxembourg for €2 per person with free bike transport. If you want to travel further by train a day ticket costs €4 within Luxembourg.

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Fines for mobile phone users in traffic

If you keep your eyes open in traffic in Germany you observe that the use of "Haendys" - mobile or cell phones by drivers although illegal is very common, even while driving in heavy traffic on motorways. This law applies to any driver in charge of any vehicle from a articulated 35 tonne  lorry/truck to a bicycle. However for some reason unknown the law does not apply to pedestrians. I wonder why not. We observed a number of people in Mannheim today texting while crossing quite busy roads. Whether they too are completely aware of their environment is questionable. What this means is that cyclists need to take especial care when cycling on mixed pedestrian/cyclist footpaths.
Mind that pedestrian! They might be using a mobile.

Monday, March 17, 2014

Good Ideas for Bikes in Cities: Cycling after illness

In the West at least people are living longer, but not always that healthier, so there is a need for new and modified bicycles and tricycles to solve problems caused by disability.

  • Heavy Pedals Lastenrad Transport- und Verkauf OG in Vienna ( construct a cargo trike that will carry a wheelchair. The company offers courier services in Vienna and sells and has a range of cargo bikes and trailers for hire. 
  • Anton Wiegers builds recumbent bikes and tandems, including the Janus Tandem where the captain and stoker face in different directions. He also constructs kits (Opus 3) to modify bicycles to be used as tricycles in cases where illness has removed balancing capabilities. He usually has a number of bicycles available that can be hired for a (half) day trip. If you fancy especially whizzing around quiet country roads backwards give him a call to book an appointment and to ensure that the bicycle of interest is available. Altena-Bike, Anton Wiegers, Korn 19, 4271 BM Dussen, NetherlandsT: 031 (0)416-391420 Email: Web: (In Dutch but much of it is understandable)
  • In about a months time SPEZI Special Bike Show in Germersheim will be opening its doors (26-27 April 2014). The exhibition is good place to talk to experts about special bikes or trikes. Many of the major constructors are present. 

Tuesday, March 04, 2014

An excellent article on cycling in cities

can be found under: under "City cycling: health versus hazard".

Sunday, March 02, 2014

Preview SPEZI Special Bicycle Show Germersheim 2014

It is SPEZI time again on 26 and 27 April 2014. SPEZI, the Special Bike Show held in the Stadthalle, (City Hall) Gemersheim, Rhineland Palatinate, Germany is the worlds biggest folder, trike, recumbent, velomobile, tandem exhibition.There will be about 100 exhibitors from twelve countries and 10,000 visitors from over 20 countries are expected. Admittedly most of these are German, but in addition there are six US, four Czech and eight Dutch companies exhibiting. There are lectures in German or English on Saturday and Sunday in the basement of Hall 3. The opening times are between 10.00 and 18.00. Admission: 9.50 € (adults),  7.50 € (reduced), 19.00 € (family). The admission price includes an exhibition catalogue.

We live about 50km away from Germersheim. It is an easy one and a half hour journey by train and Brompton. We have often been over the years. The photographs we have taken show the development of exhibition. Originally it was in two halls. There was space in 2003 to show off one's own bike on the paved area in front of the Stadthalle riding round and round in circles:

This space is now used for the outdoor exhibition, where some even more unusual bikes are to be seen: 
A mobile beer stand based on a pedelec trike. Unfortunately in spite of the heat the beer was not for sale.

A sail bike?

One solution to the problem of taking a child with you and making sure that they work.

In 2003 the stands were often just a collection of bikes put together:
A Danish cargo bike.
It was great fun, albeit slightly chaotic, but very enthusiastic. This spirit still lives on even though the stands are more professional theses days:
You can still talk to design and construction staff with the object you wish to talk about in front of you. Makes life a lot easier. There are two test areas where you can practise on a range of bikes and trikes. You'll need your passport and an entry ticket to gain admission to the test area. In addition you will need patience. Bike/trike testing is a very popular activity.

Getting there by bike, trike or quad cycle.

Dead easy! The Rhine cycle route (Vélo Rhin) on the left bank of the river leads directly to Germersheim: northwards from Karlsruhe / Wörth / France and southwards from Speyer / Ludwigshafen. (This is covered in our new Rhine Two cycling guide 8.99€ from Amazon and Smashwords. It is due out shortly.) You don't have to take a Brompton, but it is amazing to see so many of them gathered together.

Public Transport

There are excellent bike carrying rail links (S-Bahn) from Bruchsal, Karlsruhe, Speyer, Ludwigshafen, Mannheim and Heidelberg. The railway station is quarter of an hours walk away from the Stadthalle. The route is signposted or you download a town plan from the SPEZI website ( Normally you can hitch a lift on a seven or eight person tandem trike, but you are expected to pedal.

Getting to Germersheim.

You can take high speed trains from London via Paris or Brussels to Mannheim or Karlsruhe or if you must you can fly to Frankfurt, Hahn, Stuttgart or Karlsruhe-Baden-Baden airports.


Although it might be difficult to find accommodation in Germersheim itself, there should be no problem finding somewhere to stop in Speyer, Karlsruhe and Heidelberg. Contact the Tourist Office in Germersheim ( The southern part of the Palatinate (Südpfalz) is great place for touring by bicycle or tricycle with many kilometres of signposted cycle routes, vineyards and quaint little villages. Germersheim was fortified in the 19th century to protect Germany's borders against the French. The fortifications were partly demolished under the terms of the Treaty of Versailles in the 1920s, but there are still a number of interesting buildings in the town.

Eating at SPEZI

Unlike the major exhibitions like the Frankfurt Book Fair, where you pay an arm and a leg for your cup of coffee etc., you can leave the halls here to go and eat in the town. There is no need however, there is an excellent restaurant (by Hall 2) and a snack bar (in the basement) in the Stadthalle.

Saturday, March 01, 2014

Good Ideas for Bikes in Cities: Illuminated Biking Gloves for dark nights

Irene Posch,  a Viennese designer ( has developed a pair of cycling gloves with integrated LEDs on the back, conductive areas on the palm and finger ends and a small battery. The  five LED lights are in the shape of an arrow. Clenching the fist causes the LEDs to light up. They will greatly improve cyclists' visibility on a dark night. A good idea. The gloves also have conductive areas on the fingertips that allow for touchscreen use. However, we’d recommend that you not use your phone while on a bike. It is bad enough that motorists continue to use mobiles while driving.
Kits are available to modify a pair of knitted gloves from:

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