Comments about cycling, and cycle and bicycle touring in Europe - routes, carriage of bicycles by public transport, hotels, hostels, camp sites, bicycle rental, bicycle hire, life in Viernheim, Germany and living in the time of peak oil.
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.
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.
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.”.
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.
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.
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.
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.