Footpaths

For walking along? It seems not. The safe zone for pedestrians, post delivery employees and pushchairs have become quite unsafe, or at least according to some social media platforms. I have to agree with a lot of the comments, however it is not the rule, rather the exception.

When I first visited Berlin, my partner explained a lot of cycling rules and penalties to me. She had learnt them at a purpose-built Fahrradschule when young and again when she learned to drive. I regularly saw people stopped by the police for infringement of these rules and therefore respected them myself. It was stressed that driving laws and cycling laws combined would help both engage safely. Something has driven these two further apart but the finger can be pointed in many directions.

Plenty of criticism is levelled at the car driver but some cyclists need to look at themselves. I am a two wheeled tour guide, so I have to observe what I am doing (and leading my guests to do) all the time. I am aware that there are cycle-haters out there who point a camera at you in order to try to catch you out so I adhere to the cycling laws on a daily basis. Those that don’t are really giving all of us a bad name.

You know who you are. You blitz through that red light ‘because you know the sequence of the traffic lights’, not a good example to tourists or younger people.

You wear lots of Lycra and expensive kit and denounce everybody in your path who is not as fast as you and may actually be ‘enjoying their cycle ride’.

You have bright lights on front and rear and reflective wear but you ride on the footpath along an empty, safe side road that is not even cobbles , blinding innocent pedestrians.

You are young, carefree and enjoying a ‘summer in Berlin’. You are not confident on a bike and you are not from mainland Europe. You ride on the footpath on a Felt Beach Cruiser, using your mobile device in one hand, with no lights ‘because everybody else does’.

You are a ‘once-warm, now-cold fast-food’courier. Anywhere with enough space for your two wheels (pedal, electric or petrol scooter) is game for you. An open door into a hof? Ride on through..

Respect is not earned for the majority by the rules and etiquette being ignored by the arrogant few. Perhaps a humourous campaign from ADFC drawing inspiration from the clever BVG taglines would work. Using a typical Berliner schnauze put down against persistent offender groups may encourage others to adopt and adapt.

It is still a much safer and much quieter capital city than most and the sides streets can be virtually empty on a daily basis. If you don’t like the big roads and cycle lane highways, don’t use the footpath alongside, choose a side street, you might discover something along the way…

Published by radicity

Two wheeled Berlin tour guide, first came to Berlin in 2012. Lived in Prenzlauerberg, Teltow and Zehlendorf. Occasional mobile cocktail bar operator.

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