Researching European transportation systems from an office in America is interesting; studying multi-modal transport in a classroom in Germany is fascinating; but experiencing what it is actually like to ride, cycle, and walk in Freiburg is the most amazing way to learn about the success of an integrated transportation network.
While walking around the Universitat yesterday, I noticed a small flier posted on the side of a building that said Wikibuy.de Recognizing a familiar word wiki (Hawaiian for quick), I had a feeling that this website might be a sort-of craigslist for Germany. Indeed it was! After a wiki search through the site I found the section called Fahrrader and within 15 minutes I had arranged via e-mail to purchase a bicycle from a local professional.
He met me this morning under the Schwabentor in the old city, adjusted the seat for me, gave me the key to the lock, and showed me that the front and rear lights turn on as you pedal. And even better, it didnt cost me anything since his friend will buy it back from me when I leave Freiburg!
The freedom of mobility on bike cannot be beat. I took off to explore the greater Freiburg area for the rest of the morning and discovered so much of the region within only a few hours. I rode east on my new fahrrad on a wonderful bike path following the Dreisam River. The gravel pedestrian path and paved bicycle path were separated most of the way by trees and brush, taking turns being alongside the water. There was only one section of my route that intersected a street, and the bicyclists had the right of way while vehicles were required to yield.
I stopped to eat a nectarine at a children's park that was — literally — not surrounded by anything expect fields and the bicycle path. There were several mothers there who had cycled there with their kids in the back trailer. I found out that this particular bike path gets an average of 15,000 trips per day!
Bicyclists on Today's Excursion:
25% – Mother's with kids in their trailers
25% – College students with backpacks
15% – Men and women in spandex and helmets out for cycling exercise
10% – Elderly couples on elderly bikes
10% – Business men in suits
5% – Kids cycling with friends
5% – People going somewhere fast
5% – People going nowhere slow (my category!)
And a guy with the cutest terrier in his rear basket staring at me as I rode behind.
This article is part of the Exploring Transportation in Europe series.