There is no better way to get around the city than by bike. Just now, I was making my way home from a dinner with Katha, when the sky turned black and it became so dark that drivers turned on the lights of their cars. As wet drops began falling, I was pedaling home by bike, alongside of a swarm of fellow bikers. Curiously, some girl with obvious anger management issues was racing in front of me, cursing at everyone in her way and thus freeing up the road for both of us. The city lights were flying by, the storm was brewing above and I made it home effortlessly, right before the rain came crashing down.
Berlin may not be perfect for biking, but we are getting there. Coming from Holland, one of my main concerns was the shear size of the city and how I could get around. I began my life here very conservatively, barely venturing out of my district and only slowly poking into other parts of the city. Because of that, it took me almost a year to go to the very Western end of the city. The trouble was also the way of transport: In The Hague I would get almost anywhere by bike within the blink of an eye. Here, the size of the city actually prevents people to even go to certain places, in a sense they give up. Public transport might be all-encompassing but also so unreliable, that it has become a practical joke: Earlier this year, when left-wing activists sabotaged the train network to raise awareness about Germany’s weapon exports, public transport ground to a standstill. Unfazed by this logic, one Twitter user succeeded in expressing exactly what everybody was thinking:
And really, what exactly is the merit of using public transport during summer? It is hot, crowded, unreliable, and it doesn’t even take you exactly where you want to go. Unfortunately, there’s a noticeable absence of proper biking infrastructure in Berlin, and that might be what has prevented it from fully taking off. For my part, I am loving the freedom that biking provides and I take my bike absolutely everywhere, even the shortest distances, fully knowing that I can just jump on and get somewhere quickly. Every so often I may look death in the face when people open car doors in my face, but all in all, it feels great to be reclaiming the streets with a more effortless, secure and sustainable form of transport.