New to cycling in Berlin? These tips could make your life on two wheels a little bit easier.
Cycle nice and cycle safe
Despite whatever crazy urban cycling videos you may have seen on YouTube (don’t watch this), the city isn’t a race course, nor is it a velodrome. Respect your fellow cyclists; don’t be ride aggressively; don’t feel you have to overtake other cyclists on crowded bike lanes and don’t ride dangerously in traffic. Despite what some of your cycling friends may say, motorists are not the enemy and their safety shouldn’t be jeopardized just because you need to get to work quickly.
Check your cycle lane privilege
Although it may seem appealing to you to imitate a salmon swimming upstream, cycle lanes are designed to be ridden in the direction of the traffic, not against it. That means you ride on the right side of the road, following the cars. Nothing annoys fellow bikers more than dodging someone riding fast in the opposite direction, particularly on a very busy bike lane at rush hour. It’s also dangerous!
Don’t run reds
Although it may seem tempting to go through red lights, especially if it’s clear to the left and right on a crossroads, don’t. You won’t be the first cyclist to be arrested, or at the very least given a stern talking to by the Polizei. It’s also worth noting that you will get absolutely no sympathy from them feigning ignorance because you’re ‘new in town’. Additionally, jumping reds can also harm crossing pedestrians and could even result in a fatal accident.
Don’t get doored
Berlin often has bike lanes sandwiched between moving traffic and parked cars. Add to this the fact that Berlin drivers and taxis often like to pull up and stop in the road, it’s possible that someone will open a door on the right of the car as you approach. Unfortunately, this is a scarily real prospect. If you are sandwiched between cars left and right, make sure you’re hyper vigilant. If it’s only parked cars on your right, make sure to give an exceptionally wide berth to any car whose door(s) may open.
Lock it up
Simply put, Berlin bike theft is out of control, and no matter how smart you think you are when locking your bike up, there’s a bike thief who is smarter. We’ve written a whole article of tips to help you avoid getting your bike stolen – so you might want to check that out for more info. In essence: only lock your bike up when you must, buy the best lock you can and remember that any lock can be broken, depending on the desirability of the bike and how much time the thief has to crack it.
Ride your bike (don’t ride the ubahn with it)
Yes, you can take your bike on the u-bahn, but Berliners don’t really like that. Bikes get in everyone’s way on a crowded train and the reception you’ll receive can be frosty, to say the least. It can bad enough fighting for a space on the s-bahn on weekends in a designated bike carriage. It might be raining cats and dogs, but we would suggest that if you can brave it, for your own self-preservation and for the sake of the other passengers, ride your bike.
Choose the right gear
Nah, we don’t mean the kind of gear that’s on the back wheel of your bike; we mean the bike you ride, and the stuff you ride it in: that means:
- – wear a helmet
- – get some waterproofs (yeah, even waterproof trousers!)
- – run bigger tires for cobblestones and sketchy road surfaces
- – get good lights
- – get a good lock
- – get mudguards, if your bike can accommodate them