Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Bicycle culture

The cycling culture here in Munich is slightly different to what I am used to back home. In my time here so far, I have only seen a hand full of road cyclists. Perhaps it is the cold weather or perhaps it is because I am riding at the wrong time of the day, but I have seen very few lyrca clad racers. This does not mean that there are no bikes in Munich, in fact, it is the extreme opposite.

Cycling is embraced everywhere. People use bikes as the main form of transport as a extensive network of bike paths allow you to get anywhere you need to. Almost every tree and pole has a bike chained to it as there is no need for bicycle lockers or storage sheds. Simply park you bike on the path and it will be there at the end of the day. Even at your home, bikes are not stored inside but just parked on the footpath. If you did this in Australia, you would generally come out the next day to find your bike missing, broken or lacking in several components. In Munich, it is like there is some sort of unwritten agreement; a mutual respect for the fact that the bicycle is an accepted way of life rather than a physical luxury possession. Everyone from children to the elderly, from students to professionals in suits ride a bike to get around. And the fantastic thing is... due to the flat terrain, the bicyles are brilliant single speed cruisers and dutchie bikes. The kind that you imagine your grandma rode when she was young. The only time you see these kinds of bikes in Australia is at the front of a cafe or boutique when they are trying to make it look 'Euro'.

Last night we ventured out for dinner and of course, we road our bikes. Despite what seems to be an extremely low occurence of theft in Munich, I was reluctant to chain my road bike up outside a restaurant. So instead, it was decided that I would double my wife on her bike; the good old 'dink'. There were no stunt pegs to stand on and a basket on the front meant that she couldn't perch on the handlebars, so the onlyu option was to sit on the rear pannier rack. We cruised down the road, blissfully unaware of whether what we were doing was actually legal or not.

Dinner was at a local pub, where, as usual, beer was the standard beverage and served by the litre. After a few drinks and several attempts to get going on the way home, it was decided that it would be much easier and safer to walk home.

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