Written by guest contributor Mike from Pinch Flat.
Hey everyone. My name is Mike and I was recently able to cycle across Europe on an old bike. I ended up in Germany and my final destination, Berlin. Here, I met my younger brother and had a blast! But before I tell you why it was so good I’m going to tell you why Berlin shouldn’t be a cycling city!
It doesn’t seem like Berlin should be a cycling city
Berlin didn’t strike me as a classic bike friendly city when I first saw it. The reasons for this were mainly because the transport system actually works. Instead of getting frustrated and wishing I was on my bike, I quite liked catching the city’s trains. It’s also huge. Cycling from one side to another really tests out the legs. I didn’t mind doing this, but it takes ages and it seems silly when a train does it in a quarter of the time! And finally, there are cobbled stones everywhere. These look great, but they’re not so good for cycling over!
…But after a few days, I started to see why there was such a strong cycling culture here and it was one that I wanted to be a part of!
Here are my reasons for why I loved cycling in Berlin.
1) The culture
We’ll start off with my favourite reason, and that was the cycling culture. One morning my brother and I decided to go on an early morning bike ride. As it was early, we were caught up with the many commuters on their way to work. But it wasn’t cars like in most cities. No! It was bicycles. We were in a bicycle conga line of 20 people or so. It was a fresh morning and it felt great to be weaving in and out of each other as we drifted across the city! There are also cycling cafes everywhere. It was great to go into them knowing that we all had a common ground in bikes! Having such a strong cycling culture helped when I went on the hunt for bicycle touring related gear, which I was able to use in future adventures.
2) They aren’t weird about you taking your bike on the train
Some cities have strict rules about bicycles on public transit. I had to bribe a conductor in Kuala Lumpur recently before he would let me on! This is not the case in Berlin. As long as you buy your bike a ticket, you can get on without any hassle whatsoever.
3) It’s flat
I know it’s a bit wimpy but I liked it! Sometimes it’s nice to know you can take it easy.
4) Drivers are expecting you
In England (where I’m from) there is still a tense rivalry between cyclists and motorists. This causes friction on the road and can lead to situations that no one wants to be in. But this isn’t the case in Berlin. Due to the large cycling movement, cyclists are expected and respected!
So now we know that cycling in Berlin in safe and easy let’s take a look at some of the routes available to you along the way. During my time here my cycling routes mainly comprised of riding to and from places to eat as much food as possible. But I was still able to go on two rides:
Cycle Along The Berlin Wall: There’s a specific trip along the Berlin Wall to discover history from when the city was separated. The actual wall is around 160km long, so it’s unlikely you’ll be able to do it all in a day. Still, uou can pick a section and cycle as far as you can in one direction as I did. You’ll come across some unusual bike paths and see a side of Berlin that the vast majority of other people don’t.
Tempelhofer Park: Not so much of a bike ride but more of a place to ride your bike down really fast. It’s pretty crazy as it’s a former airport. This means racing down the runway pretending you’re a plane. Admittedly, I’m a little old to be doing that, but no one knew me, so it was alright!
For more great places to cycle in Berlin take a look at this top 10 here.
So there we have it, if you ever find yourself in Berlin, get a bike and enjoy!