10 tips for becoming an expert cyclist in Berlin

Activities, Transport, Useful Information on September 8, 2011 2:44 pm
   

Berlin is full of bicycle lanes that mean visitors can ride around the city at ease. Cycling is a great way to move from one place to another and see all the city monuments at any time of year.

Enjoy these 10 cycling tips for Berlin for travelling around the city on a bike and  become a real expert in just a few days!

Getting a bike

First of all you’ll need a bicycle, and there are a number of places where they are available.

1- For a short stay in the city, it is worth hiring a bike, rather than purchasing one, particularly looking at prices.

Around the city there are numerous DB-bike stations, a service provided by the Deustche Bahn (German railway) for bicycle hire. Contact Call-a-bike.

Visitors just need to register on-line or by telephone to get their bicycle. The service costs 8 euro-cents per minute, with a maximum of 15€ a day or 60€ a week. Consult the stations here (in German), or call the number: 07000 5225522.

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There are also small bicycle stations run by private companies or hostels and hotels. It is easy enough to get a bike from these services by paying the appropriate fee (usually between 8 and 10€ a day with a discount for two or more days). These services allow visitors to have the bikes for 12 hours, since they must be presented in the establishment to check the bike’s condition before being allowed to go off pedaling again. It is important to remember that some services provided by hostels and hotels are for clients only.

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2- If your stay in the city is going to be longer and you have considered buying a bike, there are several options for purchase.

For those with a limited budget, a good option is to buy a second-hand bicycle. There are many internet sites dedicated to this, as well as several places  in Berlin where you can buy one.

Most of the Flohmärkte (second-hand markets) in the city sell bikes and they are available at some good prices. You can also try bargaining with the sellers! Some Flohmärkte are the Flohmarkt am Mauerpark (Sundays 7h – 17h), Flohmarkt am Tierpark-Center (Sundays 8h – 16h), Flohmarkt Märkische Allee (Sundays 7h – 16h) and Flohmarkt am Postdamer Platz (Saturdays 8h – 15h, and Sundays 10h – 18h).

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Remember that bicycles purchased in this way will not be in perfect condition (second-hand for a reason!). So it is important to check that the bicycle works well and includes everything necessary (brakes and lights particularly!)

If however you prefer to spend more money for more reliability, you can go to a specialist shop which offers a good selection of different bicycles in great condition and expert advice from the shop assistant.

An example of some shops include Velondo (repair, sales and hire), Rad-Spannerei (huge selection of all models), Stadler (shop with a circuit to try out the bikes), and Cicli Berlinetta (also with bikes from the 1970-80s).

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Traffic and bike lanes

To avoid trouble,  it is important to know where cycling is allowed, and where it is not.

3- You must ride in the established bicycle lanes, since it is forbidden to cycle on the pavement unless there is a marked bike lane. Many streets have a bike lane on the right-hand side and this sometimes continues onto the pavement. The road is always painted with signs indicating where to follow the path.

Some streets do not have bike lanes, and in these areas cyclists must remain on the right-hand side of the road.

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4- Keep your eyes and ears open. In a large city it is important to respect the traffic lights and signs. In some areas there are lights and signs especially for cyclists so watch out for these.

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5- Cyclists are not alone on the road – there is a great deal of traffic, cars, motorbikes and lorries. It is crucial to look before turning and be aware of the traffic direction at all times – cyclists are always the weakest vehicles on the road.

Cyclists must always use hand signs when moving around the city. For example an extended arm when turning left or right for other motorists to know and anticipate movement. Signal also when changing lane or overtaking.

Where to park

Travelling by bicycle has the advantage of being able to park at the door of any monument or destination.

6- There are specific parking places for bicycles in the city. These bike parks are structures on the streets to lean and lock up bicycles, but if they are full it is also possible to use a nearby tree or signpost, although it is not ideal.

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Essential

7- Do not forget to buy a lock to secure the bike whenever you park it. All bikes in the city use one, so it’s worth spending a little extra money on a good lock so as to be at ease when leaving the bike at any time.

8- If you go night-cycling in Berlin the ruels say you need to have functioning front and rear lights, and reflectors on the wheels. If you are stopped by the police without lights you can be fined. It is much better to avoid the trouble and the risk.

9- Although it’s not legally compulsory, you should wear a helmet. Riding on a bicycle in a large city is not easy and incidents can be avoided if cyclists are well-protected. Knee and elbow-pads are also a good idea.

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Rain and bicycles

In Berlin there is always a possibility that it might rain and it is a good idea to be prepared when going out for a ride.

10- When you’re cycling in the rain you need to slow down and get greater control of the bike. To avoid getting too wet, carry a good waterproof jacket to keep off the rain and let you focus on the road.

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We hope our advice proves useful and that you enjoy riding around Berlin. It really is worthwhile visiting the city on a bike; and perhaps we might even meet one day at a traffic light!


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2 Comments

  1. Adina says:

    The prices for second hand bicycles at Flohmarkts can be rather high. Ebay or other similar websites for Kleinanzeigen are better options, in my opinion.