KMail and bikeways in Germany

So this blog title is "KMail and bikeways in Germany". You may wonder what they have in common. You may wonder whether there will be an eloquent Aaron-style nice little story behind that.

But sorry, no, I have to disappoint you. At least from my point of view kmail and bikeways in Germany have absolutely nothing in common, two completely unrelated things, no surprising lovely details they share.

So, to get to the point: what I wanted to say for a long time: congratulations to KMail ! I use it since years and it always just works. And one IMO huge achievement: I have thousands of emails in my mail folders, and it starts really really fast, basically immediately. Sorting or searching the mail folders - instantly. Greak work ! Not all applications manage to do that.

Now to the sad part, the german bikeways. No, I won't complain that there are no or too few bikeways in Germany. More the opposite. There are too many, or, too many unusable bikeways in Germany. I mean, bikeways could be a nice thing. Not so here in Germany. The trend here is to put bikeways on the sidewalk together with the pedestrians. Does that make sense ? Does it make sense to have me riding with let's say 25 to 35 km/h through the pedestrians ? I don't think so. I also don't think that would be especially safe, neither for me nor for the pedestrians. But, well, in these cases, one could just ignore the bikeways on the sidewalks.

But now the really annoying effect of that is, that car drivers have come to expect that bikers belong on the sidewalk to the pedestrians: "This is my street, get off !".
I mean, it's not enough for them to honk at you, some of them go so far they lower their window just to scream that at you as biker.
Even if there is no bikeway visible, just sidewalks.
How to put it, I'd suggest to split bikers into two groups: sporty bikers, i.e. faster than 20 km/h and comfy bikers, slower than that. Consider the sporty bikers like motor bikes, and the comfy bikers like pedestrians.
IMO this would make a lot of sense. If I'm going relatively fast, e.g. at 30, I much rather prefer to share the street with the cars at 50, than to mess around between pedestrians moving at 5 km/h. At 30 I also don't want to circle around trees on sidewalks, go up and down the sidewalks at each crossing and also drivers don't expect somebody almost as fast as them selves on the sidewalks on crossings. OTOH if I'm going slow all that is ok.

So my proposal: either split bikers into two groups, or much better build bikeways as part of the street, not as part of the sidewalk, so we get accepted again on streets.
(children biking on sidewalks is ok of course)



This is why most of the sporty bikers in germany dress like elite athletes (even if they're doing a sedate 28km/h, not flying up a hill at 40 like Ulle on the way to his dealer) so that drivers take them seriously on the road.

Anyway, ride where you want, but ride assertively, is my philosophy.

By Will Stephenson at Thu, 05/15/2008 - 20:29

And don't you love it when cars park on the bikeway? I get tempted to park my bicycle on the street. :-) That'd be fun.

And yes, bikeways in Germany look like an afterthought 99% of the time. They go on and off the street depending how much space the sidewalk had available. They go behind busstops - one of the worst bikeway places in Heidelberg: the bikeway right behind the busstop from where all departing people walk over to the train station, completely ignoring the bikeway. And after you're through the pedestrians you get overrun by Taxis. Just got my bike a new front wheel and handle bar that way.

By Matthias Kretz at Thu, 05/15/2008 - 20:52

I loved the times in my home village where nobody cared about anything. But now that I live in a bigger city I know exactly what you are talking about.
It sometimes really feels odd to cycle on the street together with the cars but often you have no other choice but the car drives don't want you there so I end up changing all the time between bicycle, pedestrian and car lane.

By roger-wilko at Thu, 05/15/2008 - 21:07

I agree completely...
Visit Stuttgart to see bicycle hell :(

By frederik gladhorn at Thu, 05/15/2008 - 21:50

Where I am in Missouri, outside of a couple cross-country paths, there are hardly any bikeways (none in my town, there's a couple on-road bikepaths like you want in Columbia). And it is illegal for bikes to ride on non-residential sidewalks. Despite these two facts, some drivers still think bikes should get off the road and on to the sidewalk.

So really be happy that you have a bikeway at all, and don't worry about them confusing German drivers: they would probably be ignorant anyways.

By eean at Fri, 05/16/2008 - 11:47

In the Netherlands, most bikeways are part of the road, or are a seperate asphalt paths, so I don't get why the Germans don't do that.
I think it's also less comfortable to drive on sidewalks, so less people go bicycling (I drive almost every day around 25KM on my bicycle). Maybe it's because the government doesn't take cyclist seriously or there aren't many cyclists (in the Netherlands there are more bicycles than people).
Yesterday, I was in Germany and for the first time I noticed the bikeways on the sidewalks.
I first didn't know it were bikeways, but our guide told us to watch out for cyclists on those paths. I think that's also dangerous for tourists that don't know bicycles.

By Feitze van Zwol at Sat, 05/17/2008 - 09:20