Berlin Diary: Rain, Sleet, Snow? Bike On!

     |    Thursday, der 21. March 2013

In the deepest depths of winter… Why is this man riding a bike? In 3, maybe 4 inches of snow? Berliners brave all kinds of weather to commute to work or just to get around. They are heroes. As crazy as it looks, riding a bike in the snow is not all that nuts. Ok, this guy isn’t even wearing boots. But I have seen plenty of totally normal folks, riding bikes in all kinds of below freezing weather, who aren’t even wearing gloves!

Man biking on a snowy road

At least this woman is wearing a helmet.commuter in Berlin riding a bike in heavy snow, photo by xhiller, 2011

In the end, a bike isn’t all that different from a car. Sure, there are no sides protecting the rider from the elements, but the principle is the same: frame, wheels, drive train, something to steer with, something to sit on. The big difference of course is that the rider has to power the thing, create the propulsion. Hence, the wonderful environmental effect of commuting by bike, not to mention the health benefits, and the low cost. I think these reasons are key  to why people in Berlin ride bikes. Well, you may say, why not walk? For one thing, Berlin is a big spread out place, and biking is much much faster than walking. It even beats out public transportation and cars in the time factor on certain routes. Another important reason to go on two wheels: Berlin is flat. It’s easy to ride 30 kilometers if you want.  And – parking is as close as the next street post. One final thought: biking means you are free to come and go. No time tables, no waiting for the train, no driving in circles for a parking space. Hop on and go. Even in the snow.

commuter in Berlin riding a bike on a city street in heavy snow, photo by xhiller, 2011

So, ride on, city of bikes!