Bloganuary prompt: What is your preferred mode of transport?
I love travelling by bicycle. Throughout my life, bikes have allowed me to get from one place to another faster than I could walk with a minimal carbon footprint. When I was a teenager, my bike meant independence; today it means independence from a car.
Touring in Europe
I fondly remember several cycling tours in Europe, the first one in northern Germany on a tandem bike built in 1939 and later exploring Belgium. I carried full camping gear on these trips and it was by far the most cost-effective way to travel.
On a solo trip through the Netherlands, I got to experience the incredible bike infrastructure there. Bicycle lanes that ran independently from roads, bicycle-first traffic rules and even an underground guarded bike storage facility at Amsterdam’s central train station. A trip to the Netherlands should be mandatory for any city planner 🙂 .
In 2006 I went on a memorable bicycle trip with my 10 year old daughter Amelia along the river Weser, visiting the area where I lived when I went to elementary school. We packed the little trailer she rode in as a baby and had a great time visiting the castle the Brothers Grimm lived in and Hamlin, the city of the Pied Piper. For this trip, we took advantage of the fact that you can take your bikes on specially equipped rail cars.
When I lived in the center of Frankfurt (Main) Germany, I enjoyed cycling all over town on my bike without needing to worry about traffic or where to park.
When the medieval city wall of Frankfurt wasn’t needed anymore the city magistrate ruled that there could be no buildings built in the space it occupied.
While there are some buildings that somehow got built despite this (like the Opera house 😉 ) this ruling means that today, the city has a park that goes all around the historic downtown core. This wall-park features a multi-purpose pedestrian and bike path that allows you to get to any point in the area within about 20 minutes.
Combined with an incredible public transportation system I was able to work as a sales professional in the region without owning a car.
When we moved closer to my work three years ago, we were able to sell the second family car and I have an easy commute with my bicycle.
For the first time this winter, my bike has studded tires that allow me to bike to work almost every day of the year. I enjoy the freedom and relaxation of the ride that gives me exercise and the opportunity to detach from work before getting home (most of the time).
I take the bike wherever I can even though compared to my experiences in Europe, the bicycle infrastructure is much less developed and some drivers fail to understand that bicyclists have the same rights and responsibilities as other vehicles.
I also enjoy cycling just for fun. I get to enjoy nature while being faster than on foot.