Everywhere I go I believe in planetary recorders

Month: February 2016

Birgitt is one of the I Bike Berliners in the recently launched MeetUp group. At the meeting she was so enthusiastic about her experiences as a cyclist in Berlin that I asked her for this email interview.

Thank you for answering the questions in German and English, Birgitt!

Driving in Berlin is much better than in any other city I've lived in before

 

What brought you to Berlin (if you weren't born here)?
Two years ago I decided to travel for a year, to live for three months in four different European cities. Berlin was my first city and it was love at first sight. I knew immediately that I wanted to live here. My job gives me the opportunity to work from anywhere, so here I am!

What kind of bike do you use?
A used Focus Arriba that I modified a little for my practical needs.

What does your bike mean to you?
Freedom.

Is there a dream bike that you would like to have?
Not really, I don't pay attention to brands or fancy technical features. It has to be sporty and comfortable. And sexy! I have to find my bike attractive as we spend a lot of time together!

What do you particularly like about cycling in Berlin?
The fact that everyone is used to cycling. Drivers take care of you and respect you. Berlin is also flat, which is convenient, and the bike lanes are usually good.

How do you use your bike in everyday life?
I use my bike when I go somewhere. Because I work from home, I usually go once or twice a day - to an event, to the swimming pool, ...

How do you cycle in Berlin compared to other cities?
Driving in Berlin is way better than any other city I've lived in before - with the exception of Copenhagen, but that's paradise.

In Brussels, my hometown, there is little attention paid to cyclists. Riders are not sufficiently used to cyclists and then sometimes behave aggressively, which annoys the cyclists, and they also become very radical. Even if you have right of way as a cyclist, it is better to let the cars pass just to be safe. A lot of people would say that it is dangerous to ride a bike there. I think it's a matter of perseverance and mutual respect. It's fun after all! Brussels is hilly and the cycling infrastructure is still poor, which is why a lot of people give up cycling.

What could make cycling in Berlin even more pleasant?
Cyclists themselves should sometimes have more respect for other cyclists - such as riding on the right-hand side, or indicating when they are turning or stopping. Maybe some kind of bike label? Less cobblestones and broken beer bottles on the bike paths would be nice too, but of course that is difficult to organize.

Where does your bike usually park?
In the courtyard when I'm at home.

Do you have a favorite cycling outfit?
Not really. If I know I'm going to go far, I'll take an extra t-shirt with me so I can change when I get to my destination. Nobody likes smelly sweaty people!

Do you have a special bag / basket / way to transport your things on the bike?
I have two large bicycle bags that I use when, for example, I buy a lot of fruit and vegetables in the market. Usually I have little with me, my handbag is enough.

What is your favorite place to “refuel” - with coffee, food, drinks, snacks?
I am a very unfaithful customer and enjoy discovering new places. That's why I have few favorite places. But I like to stop for a drink, coffee or a game of table tennis at Atopia in Prenzlauer Berg. Herman Schulz in Friedrichshain is great too. Any pub or cafe where you can get a smile and instantly feel at home.

The combination of water, wind and the TV tower is so inspiring!

What is your favorite route for a relaxed bike tour in Berlin?
In the city I enjoy a random ride and let myself be guided depending on where the light is green at that moment. I also like driving through streets I've never been and building a “mental map” that connects the neighborhoods in my head. In the end, I always end up in a place that I vaguely know and make precious little discoveries. And bridges! I will always try to cross as many bridges as I can. The combination of water, wind and the TV tower is so inspiring!

Which streets or areas in Berlin avoid cycling and why?
All the streets around Unter den Linden are a bit too intense for me: road works, buses, lost and slow tourists, traffic lights everywhere, ... The same applies to Kurfürstendamm. If possible, I'll take a different route.

Do you have a recommendation for the best bicycle repair shop in Berlin?
There is a great bike shop in my neighborhood in Friedrichshain - Nachfahrer on Boxhagener Straße. They take the time to help you out and are great value for money and are incredibly friendly!

How do you care for your bike?
Oh ... this is something I have to work on. I always wait too long and regret it when it's too late. Fortunately, I recently found a bicycle “self-help” facility in Wedding, where I go when I think I can learn something myself.

What kind of bike lock do you use?
An ABUS Bordo. It should be absolutely shatterproof. I hope!

Are there any accessories or accessories that you wouldn't get on your bike without?
My phone - for the music! Fast cycling, especially at night, with some good tunes in your ear and the incredible Berlin views is just divine. There is such positive energy.

Your favorite cycling companion?
For urban and functional cycling, I prefer to be alone. It's much safer and gives you more freedom to improvise. But I love going on bike tours in nature with friends and sharing the impressions and moments. And picnics!

What other means of transport do you use in Berlin?
Public transport, but only if my bike is not an option!

Anyone who understands Dutch can read her article about Berlin on Birgitt's blog.

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