Sunday, August 21, 2011

Germany Bikes


In our town, traffic and transportation are pretty big issues. Compared to say, L.A., we don't have much congestion, but it is a problem. Some friends avoid visiting me because to get from their side of town to mine, they have to drive through one of the traffic headache areas. City battles rage between advocates for investing in better mass transit, and advocates of better roads and bridges.

There is a pretty good system of bicycle paths, with about 120 miles of on and off-street marked paths and 5 pedestrian bridges. Still, it's hard to avoid the unpleasantness of bicycling on busy streets. You can take bikes on buses, but it involves loading your bike on an awkward rack on the front of the bus.

We could do a lot better.

This hit home during a visit to Dresden, Germany. On our first train ride, a commuter from the airport to the city, we waited before boarding while several people wheeled their bikes off the train. "That's the bike car," our son explained, and steered us to the next car.

German trains and trams are clean, comfortable, affordable and on time, and you can wheel bicycles right inside them. The platforms line up with the floors of the cars so even "old guys" (our son's description of us) can manage easily.

Everywhere you go, people are comfortably and casually pedaling their bikes around. We were driven in an auto once during the visit, when our son's boss gave us a ride home from a restaurant. I asked him if Dresden, with a population of about 500,000 (population of our town 157,000), has trouble with traffic during rush hour. He chuckled. No, he said, they don't. The transportation system works pretty well.


The biking/tram/train/bus system extends throughout the country. You can bicycle on quiet and beautiful paved paths all the way to Prague, then take the train back.


We in the United States, in my town, could do this, too.

We should.


(View of a castle from the bike path at the end of the Dresden-Prague bike path.)

Many thanks to the photographers. Here are links to your blogs, in order of appearance: www.trentobike.org/bycountry/Austria.html, www.bootsnall.com/articles/10-03/two-wheel-tourism-how-to-plan-a-cycling-trip-in-Europe.html, dalsells.wordpress.com/, www.cycling-germany.co.uk/elbe.html