So upon realizing that the best method of transportation around Berlin is really by bike, I took it up enthusiastically (and slightly tremulously since I hadn’t actually ridden a bike since sometime around the time when my Dad was taking me for haircuts…maybe a bit of an exaggeration, but you get the idea.)
After a few tries being terrified riding along cars, and then a bad crash in a tram track, I finally got the hang of it and feel as brave as the best of them – with one exception: Winter Bikers.
The minute my face starts to freeze (while my bundled up body sweats profusely from the exercise) I put my bike away for winter. It just isn’t any fun to ride to work with snot freezing on your upper lip. I’d like to think this idea is universal, but it isn’t.
Berliners are tough and like to ride out the winter, (haha, get it? ride out the winter?) Even some of my colleagues will wrap their tires in chains to be able to tackle the snow and ice you find clogging up the streets and sidewalks.
In my mind, this is not only absolutely crazy it is also incredibly dangerous. As a part-time driver, (I rent car shares with increasing frequency,) I find myself dodging the snow and ice on four wheels, and much less capable of paying attention to the two-wheeled daredevils on the side of the road. When there’s an unexpected patch of ice, or a huge pile of snow blocking your route on bike, what choice do you have but to swerve left to avoid it?
Beyond just being annoyed/scared/nervous about being on the road with them, I am just plain scared for their safety. While waiting for the tram the other morning, I saw a man riding through inches of snow on the ground (imagine how little control you have over your car when driving in snowy conditions – can you picture your tires sometimes swerving unexpectedly left or right?) And he was not just riding down any street, but right on my street. Where the tram goes. Remember my comment above about a bad accident I had when I first arrived landing in the tram tracks?
I watched this poor man crash down so hard and then jump up in visible agony from the fall, trying to “walk it off”. He couldn’t even pick up his bike. It was obvious he had injured his hip. As a couple passersby stopped to help him and his bike to the side of the road, traffice was backing up down the block.
Having been in that position before, I did feel bad for the man for the pain he must have felt, but more than that I just wondered what the hell he thought would happen when riding on a busy street lined with tram tracks after a snow storm? And once he recovered, or hid in the bushes out of view, I watched a man probably in his 60’s ride by with one kid in front, and one on the back. Guess there are just some things I’ll never understand!