The life quality in Munich is always ranked in the top 10 of the world, no matter what criteria are used. And one of the biggest reasons cited is the ability to get around on a bike, saving both the environment and taking cars off the road. People often state that the fastest and easiest way to get around Munich is by bike. And they are correct. But they often fail to mention exactly how dangerous and stressful those jaunts around town can be.
As an avid cyclist, who has about 20 different trips of 5 hours or more on the saddle in his past, I feel I am qualified to speak about cycling. I am well-aware of the dangers of biking in the city.
Here is but a short list: car doors swung open in the path of cyclists, on both the street or in the bike lane, tourists (and locals) walking in the bike lane, broken glass, dogs and small children darting out in front of bikers, delivery trucks that use the bike lane as a parking spot, cars that fail to yield as they sit in the bike lane-totally oblivious to their transgression, etc. I could go on ad nauseum. But all of these pale in comparison to the worst offenders of them all, other bikers!
The problem is multi-layered. Are bikers motorists, pedestrians or their own category? They are motorists on the street, surely, but many ride against a red light as if it were nothing more than a swarm of gnats. They ride on the wrong side of the street and more confusingly on the wrong side of the bike path. They ride on the pavement; in America we call it a sidewalk to help eliminate any confusion. Bikers ride too fast in the slow zones and too slow in the fast zones. They fail to signal their intentions (this happens in cars, too, too often!). Moms with their cargo in a trailer insist on getting to the front at a traffic light to jam things up spectacularly! Dads do this much less often. Sorry ladies. But the biggest offenders of the bike laws, that is etiquette of biking is, those cockamamie rickshaw drivers! You make your living with bikes and you are the worst offenders of them all! A curse upon you! How often have I seen two or three of them stopped right in the middle of the path in Englischer Garten?
One of the things I have begun to do is whenever I see a car driver do the right thing with a biker I give them the thumbs up-I appreciate their noticing us.