Most of us learn cycling at an early age, what contributes to the development of a child, both morally and physically. We learn how to focus circling the obstacles, keeping the balance and making sure we do not run into neighbor’s car. Later in life we understand all the advantages of cycling for real..
Moving from a small city to Riga in 2003, – meant no bicycle. Even though the roads are wide, the amount of cars and busses is too high, especially early in the mornings and around 6pm. The traffic gets insane, and the blockages on the streets do not dissolve for hours. There were no bicycle paths in Riga until last year, still there are just a few. Therefore you can count cyclists on your fingers! I could only cycle, visitting my grandparents on the countryside. The situation in Riga is hopefully starting to change now little by little.
Going to Amsterdam and Copenhagen in 2008, made me think for how long i have not cycled!
Today Amsterdam is known as one of the most bicycle-friendly cities in the world and is a centre of bicycle culture. 38% of all journeys in the city are made by bicycle. Most main streets have bike paths. Bike racks are ubiquitous throughout the city. There are about 700,000 bicycles in the city. Each year, about 100,000 of them are stolen and 25,000 end up in the canals (“Amsterdam Fietst” (in Dutch). Archived from the original on 2007-03-06. Retrieved 2007-04-19.)
Netherlands had to fight really hard for their ability to cycle!
In Denmark there is everything made for people. The government always tries to improve cycling infrastructure: by providing small road lamps for fast cycling, pumps, painting especially dangerous turns in blue, leaving the car roads brick laid, so the cyclists can go on the pavement and many other things. So, the cyclists here feel really safe, going by hundreds day and night. And nothing can stop them! Young, old, pregnant, businessmen, in mini skirts, with kids on the board etc. everyone cycles!
Just like in Amsterdam the first thing you have to be aware of is that cycling roads are everywhere, and very often on the pavement, so you can easily get hurt by bike! There are plenty bike shops around, for buying, renting or fixing your bike.
Stolen bikes for the price of 30 euros are available on flea markets. But I’d try Craigslist first.
Berliners just like Danes and Dutch cycle almost 12 months a year. But this is what sometimes happens when you wake up early in the morning….
In comparison to London, where cyclists are squeezed and are forced to slip among busses and cars, Berlin streets are nice and wide (in most of the places). There are not so many hills in Berlin, at least not as many as parks, where you can go down the cycling path.
Don’t know about the other 2 cities, but Berlin surely breaks the rules, and the car drivers and also pedestrians will scream at you.
The other thing which is so typical to creative city Berlin is the usage of old bicycles as shop signs or marketing tools. The other day I saw a bike locked at the crossing with a shoe glued to the pedal, which was a sign for a shoe shop..
I personally smile when I walk or cycle to work. I see fathers with a kid sitting behind him or a mother with 3 kids in the front basket. The other day when the father was pushing his pedals the little boy was singing songs filling the street with his baby language. I just wish I could see the same scene in Riga…
There are bike workshops too! So, you can make your individual one. Just recently there was a Berlin Bicycle show to celebrate bicycle culture, gathering a great amount of fans and showing all kind of bicycles made by all kind of people and companies.
It is true, there are not so many fat people in all 3 cities…
Read here the Bicycle History: http://www.pedalinghistory.com/PHhistory.html