Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Fahrräder in Göttingen

[ Bicycles in Göttingen ]

I may have briefly mentioned it before in my initial posts about moving into Göttingen, but being a college town, there are definitely tons of bicycles around. So many in fact that there are actually laws that govern where and how you may ride them. many of the sidewalks have special red pavement designated for bicycle right of way, and there are walk signals that dictate where you can ride your bike across the street or where you must walk it. At night riders must also have lights on both ends of their bike to be visibly seen by all vehicles and pedestrians.

[ Some of the ridiculous amounts of bikes that line the fronts of buildings in the city - I have no idea how some people find theirs ]

I think that the most interesting rule is part of the downtown area where there are signs everywhere claiming particular streets as pedestrian only - causing the scene to have several dozens of people walking their bike through the street to just start riding again at the other side. The most surprising are the signs that designate streets as one-way, and that doesn't just apply to cars.

Now, one my be confused and wonder how could all these rules be followed and regulated, however, there have been a few instances where I have seen cops waiting on the sidewalks to hand out tickets.

One day I was actually riding my bike innocently down Jüdenstraβe, one of the main streets in the city, when one woman riding the opposite way flagged me down and pointing behind her"Polizei, Polizei!" Truth to be told, about 200 meters ahead were two cops waiting to catch someone like me that was unaware that the street was one-way [even though I have driving down the street many times before along with other people doing the same]. If the woman hadn't brought that to my attention I could have had a hefty 40 Euro ticket - about 60 dollars - just for riding my bike the wrong way on the street!

Some days I feel like the laws here are on the border of rediculous, but many Germans are proud of the regulations with bikes in the city since they believe it makes the roads safer. Sometimes I see it as more of an inconvenience, but nevertheless, now I know to be more observant of the street signs around me.