Tag Archives: Munich

Living: The Bike

4 Jan

wvbikeSeeing as I didn’t learn to ride a bike until I was twelve (Yeah i know lol), I was never too into bikes or riding bikes. Especially since, the city i grew up in, Altadena/Pasadena, California, a suburb outside of Los Angeles, is built in mountains and on hills. You would have to be in superior shape and love biking in order to make it up the hills. Going down is always the fun part! So when i got to Europe, i was surprised to see the bike as a major mode of transportation and a huge part of Life. Not only does the demographic of most European cities allow this to be possible with everything relatively close, but it seems to fit the very culture and mindset of Europeans. They live a very modest life, the apartments aren’t big, which makes the refrigerators smaller. You’d be hardpressed seeing an Escalade or Navigator on a cobblestone road seemingly designed specifically for Mini Coopers, Audi TT’s, and Porsches. And most importantly, no one would know what kind of outfit you dawned for the day if you didn’t get out and enjoy the unpolluted air.

The government has also made it more effecient for the bike to sustain its importance in transportation. Here in Germany, it’s very expensive to get a driver’s license and then to actually purchase a car, which deters the average family from pursuing vehicular transportation. The streets adhere to those bike riders much much more than in the States. They have bike lanes everywhere, from the small towns to the major cities with convenient bike racks about every kilometer that hold an average of 100 bikes. (yes i counted, test me) The bike enthusiasts are required, like the cars, to use signals whenever riding in the streets and each bike must have a working bell.

Oh man, the bell! I have a love/hate relationship with the bike bell. My first time in Munich i was taken on a bike tour around the city for three hours. They explained to us the basic rules and regulations of bike riding in Europe and the only rule i think i heard was, “if any pedestrian is on the bike lane or if any bike is moving slower than you are, ring the bell and they’ll move.” I loved it! Until I became one of the pedestrians and forgot where i was. The bells drove me completely insane. The other modes of transportation in Europe make it even more effecient and ideal to ride a bike.

You can get on a bus with your bike. And not always do you have to put it on the front or rear racks of the bus, but i’ve seen some get ON the bus with bike in tow. It’s also the same way on the trains which is the best mode of transportation in Europe because of its speed and the distance it covers. To be able to travel from country to bikingandsmokingcountry with a duffel bag, your passport, and a bike is amazing to me.

There’s no limit to who you’ll see riding a bike either. The two biggest characteristics i have adopted to my life from the European way of living is their fashion (which i was already intrigued by) and their humble and modest living. You’ll catch anyone from a CEO of a major company, a leading Art Center director, to a great grandmother grocery shopping, or a young socialite, pedaling their way to a destination. Biking is just the intelligent, cool, cost effecient way to get from point A to point B.

I’ve seen the affect and effect biking can have on an individual.
1) You have to possess some self-confidence to ride a bike. You’re exposed to the world! 2) It keeps you healthy, young, and in shape. Though everything is relatively close, to bike there still isn’t easy. Driving there just wouldn’t make sense. 3) It makes you look so much cooler. From fashion to function, it’s so much more personal riding a bike, which makes it so cool. I’ve never seen a suit in so much activity until i got to Europe. 4) You keep a lot more Euro in your pocket. Because the average bike is only 150 euro and to fill the innertube with air at any gas station will dig 50 cent deep into your pockets. The maintenance in riding a bike is staying in shape. No registration fees, no license necessary, no parking permits needed. Just you, your bike, a bike lock, and a plastic bag to place over the seat in case it rains or snows lol.

In my quest to live here permanently, for so many reasons, the culture, the atmosphere, the people, the humble and modest living, the Euro and Pound (both being stronger than the dollar), The Bike would be the glue that would hold my average, everyday life together in Europe.

a more in-depth article will be in my upcoming eMagazine, the Sophisticate™, February!
photographs taken from the Sartorialist

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