When it comes to cycling, I’ve had a charmed existence. I’ve lived in San Francisco, Brooklyn and now, Amsterdam—all places where the quality of living is high due to progressive thinking, and as this is a bike blog, which have made cycling infrastructure a priority.
Living in Amsterdam allows me to jump quickly to neighboring countries like Germany. I was recently in Berlin, which needs little introduction as an uberhip destination, and was pleased by how whole-heartedly the city has embraced cycling since my last visit in 2012.
Maybe I didn’t notice it then, when I took a walking tour focused on graffiti sprayed walls in Mitte. But this visit, it was impossible not to notice cycling tour guides with their entourage throughout every part of the city. I saw so many tourists cycling I booked a tour with Berlin on Bike, which proved the highlight of my trip. On the tour we whizzed past countless bars, clubs and street art, through parks and historical districts, and only really had time for the occasional toilet break. But I got a sense of the city in all its massive breadth.
Compared to Amsterdam, Berlin has exceptionally broad streets that allow cycling tourists the space to bike stupidly without garnering too much attention. It’s also flat, with huge green expanses, diverse architecture and bike rentals are cheap. I took a 4-hour tour, which cost 20 euros and for an extra 5, I got to keep the bike for 24 hours.
What I liked most: in Berlin virtually everyone bikes. My experience in SF and Brooklyn is that cycling attracts a certain type, usually hip urban eco-warriors who like to boast about their efforts at the local microbrewery—and later, at Burning Man. But in Berlin, average Joes (or is it Henrichs?) bike, making cycles the democratic tool it was invented to be.
Berlin is clearly blooming for cyclists. It’s not perfect yet—there seems to be little consistency with bike lanes— but you have to keep building the infrastructure, ironing out the kinks along the way. Next to Amsterdam, this has to be my favorite city to bike through. Spokes down.
Here are a number of photos I took, proving how the city is chockfull of bikes: