“Of course I do,” I scoffed. “We have bikes in Brooklyn too, you know.”
What I originally perceived as a fairly innocent question was a grave misinterpretation on my part. I learned how to bike ride as a kid for recreational purposes. I happily went in circles in the back of my apartment building, honking my horn at people in my way, showing off my riding skills with one or no hands (Look ma, no hands!).
Fast forward to now. People here ride like they are competing in the Tour de France and the bikers rule the sidewalks. The nanosecond the light turns green, people are off on their bikes racing along the bike path to their destination.
Everyone except me. The nanosecond the light turns green, I groan, try to regain my balance on the bike, am often unable to stay straight, hope that no one bumps into me and the light stays green long enough for me to cross the street. Bikers are usually a part of the same flow of traffic as cars (and not pedestrians) and need to sign with their hands – like people did before cars had indicators installed. This seemly easy act of indicating when you are going to make a turn is quite the challenge for me. I have the left turn signal down right now, but I can’t seem to keep my right arm extended for a long period of time. I’m always jealous of the bike riders I see eating or riding without their hands.
In Erlangen, there are designated bike lanes on the sidewalk, which I try to stay in – even though other bikers don’t and like to take up the minuscule space left for pedestrians. The bikers are running a monarchy – a dictatorship of some sort. I’ve seen them hit cars that get too close to them and yell at pedestrians on their part of the sidewalk (but it’s no problem if it’s vice versa). Since it’s the main method of transportation, it’s also common to see pregnant women and mothers with little carriers in tow, neatly covered so the child is protected from the elements. Can you imagine? I barely handle myself on the bike, let alone additional weight.
Do you ride your bike as your primary transportation? Do you like it? Any tips for balancing and signaling?
Photos in this post are courtesy of Anna W. Danke dear!