Bikes, bikes, bikes- everywhere bikes. Bikes are almost always around wherever you go- parked bikes, fallen bikes, ridden bikes, every-colour-of-the-rainbow bikes. My first day with my host family I was given a bike. I use this very bike as often as I can to get to school. My day starts out with a nice, brisk ride into the city. At first, it’s a nice ride in the suburb of Gremmendorf with a forest on one side and a road on the other. In the near distance a construction bridge gets closer and closer. A small incline leads into the bridge and on the other side a ramp to go down. So after the bridge/ramp thing with its tight corners and slippery surface (mostly because its raining all the time), starts the city. Biking in the city has its own set of rules. I remember my host mother telling me that both pedestrians and drivers were afraid of the bikers and honestly I can see why, but I won’t lie I do contribute to this stereotype sometimes.
The street after the bridge becomes narrower and narrower with cars parked on both sides. Pedestrians, cars and bikers going in both directions are expected to share a space not much wider than the width of a semi-truck. Every morning and afternoon becomes a game of trying to maneuver through these parked cars whilst cars and other bikers try to pass by you. This street leads directly into the main road, which is great because us bikers have our very own lane.
This red lane has a bike symbol that marks it as ours. Sometimes, a bus or two will pass into this lane but you know what, that’s fine. They are bigger than us and believe me the last thing you want to do as a biker is piss off the bus drivers. To turn off this road, I signal with my right arm and turn towards the Paul Gerhardt Haus. The last thing I do before walking in is lock up my bike so that it is safe and sound and will be there for my ride home.