Sunday, June 7, 2015

Munich impressions: the bike edition

I started writing this post as a follow-up of my first Munich Impressions post. But as I was writing, I noticed most of my impressions had to do with bikes and cycling, so I decided to write a post focused on this topic only. There’s a world of difference between being in cyclist in Munich or Amsterdam, it literally couldn’t be more different! As a daily cyclist, I wanted to share with my daily struggles but also the benefits of being a cyclist in Munich. 
Dutch grandma bike CĂ©line nano
- Being a cyclist in Amsterdam for four months made me incredibly spoiled. In this cute cobble-stone-and-canal city, cyclist are KING. They cycle left, right, through red lights, on the wrong side of the road, with a phone in one hand and a coffee in the other.. and no one will ever say one word about it. In Munich, it’s a completely different story. If you dare to take a leap of faith and cycle through a red light, you’ll get angry stares from everyone who patiently waits or even worse, a big fat fine from the police (or a warning if you’re lucky… I'm a little embarrassed to admit that I speak from experience) 

- Never in my life have I received this many compliments on my bike. It’s just a regular black grandma-bike which everyone has in the Netherlands, but apparently it’s quite a special one here. 

- In Amsterdam I was definitely not one of the fastest cyclists, and people would take over all the time. But here it feels like I’m going at the speed of light compared to the others. Dutch people on bikes always seem to be in a rush!

- If you’re cycling in the opposite direction a taxi driver will stop and start shouting at you. And I've heard that you can’t listen to music in both ears and you can’t walk next to (!!) your bike when you’ve had one drink too much. I know the rules are the rules but some of them are truly strange (considering public full-on nudity and drinking in public is allowed). I must say I have slightly adapted to these rules since living here (= looking around extra carefully if there’s police around and continue cycling if the coast is clear). 

- Bikes are crazy expensive in Munich, which explains why most people use old or second hand bikes. For the price of my Dutch bike, you could only buy a second hand bike here.

- Going out at night for dinner or drinks + biking is considered a little odd. When I tell people I biked to the restaurant or I will bike to the bar they’re almost shocked. Maybe it’s a little too Dutch for Munich? ;)

- Like I said in my first post, cycling in Munich is really safe due to the many cycling paths. Very relaxed!

- Bikes don’t get stolen very often in Munich. In Belgium and especially Amsterdam, not double-locking your bike to a pole, lantern or bridge guarantees that it will be stolen, no matter what. In Munich, I can pretty much leave my bike anywhere with a single lock and the chances are slim that it will be stolen *knocking on wood*. I even left my keys on my bike several times because I forgot them. Anywhere else, that would be an open invite “Please steal my bike”

Are any of you cyclists? Have you noticed a big difference in different cities? I’m so happy that Munich is a safe city to bike, in London I wouldn’t even dream of using my bike every day. I think if I would move back to a city where biking isn’t as safe, I would be a little sad. My bike is really one of the most useful things I brought to Munich! 
© whiskers & lions

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