In Berlin, the ninth edition of a ‘bicycle festival’ called ‘VELOBerlin’ will take place this week. Hundreds of bikes of many different kinds can be stared at and tested.
Berlin is a paradise for bicyclists in the sense that absolutely everyone has at least one bike. Many residents use them on a daily basis as their main means of transport. Parents take their children to the kindergarten by bicycle. Many MPs go to the Bundestag on two wheels.
Going to the office by bike, going biking by bike, doing everything by bike is what countless Berliners do. Some forget where they parked their bicycle and never find it again. Others have theirs stolen, in order to find it at a flea market days later.
“I want to ride my bicycle, I want to ride my bike, I want to ride my bicycle, I want to ride it where I like.” The band Queen’s motto is the one many Berliners are living. But there is a part which does not make Berlin a paradise of bicycles at all. It’s the infrastructure.
The Berlin Senate and mayors in some of the city’s boroughs have started installing some green, protected and wide bike lanes. Those are attractive, but they only cover a tiny fraction of Berlin’s streets so far. Many of the old bike lanes need to be refurbished. There are still too many cars in the city center, and too many accidents. Bicyclists even die on Berlin streets.
It will take a while until the Senate’s efforts to turn Berlin into a more bicycle-friendly city lead to real changes. Only the first steps in that direction are being implemented these days. According to the politicians in charge, this is the beginning of a traffic transition which will give bicycles and pedestrians more space and safety.
This coming weekend, a bike festival will take place at Berlin’s Tempelhof Airport. ‘VELOBerlin’ is actually a bicycle trade fair they call festival since that word sounds less commercial and more politically correct.
‘VELOBerlin’ gives people the opportunity to look at bikes presented at the stands of a total of 300 exhibitors, but also try them on proving grounds installed right there at the event. There are bicycles of different kinds by as many as 500 brands.
Visitors can try regular city bikes, mountain bikes, touring bikes, e-bikes, transport bikes, children’s bikes, BMX bikes, racing bikes, unicycles and trailers for bikes. At ‘VELOBerlin’ children can join competitions for safe cycling, on either small bikes or balance bicycles for the smallest ones, while their parents have the opportunity to join transport bicycle riding classes or e-bike training sessions. Oh yes, they thought of everything.
There are group rides from different starting points to the ‘VELOBerlin’ site. Some 170 bicyclists are even scheduled to ride hundreds of miles. They will be coming to Berlin on their two-wheeled, self-propelled vehicles from Hamburg, Lübeck, Rostock and other cities in northern Germany.
At ‘VELOBerlin’, Johanna Jahnke und Marion Dziwnik from Hamburg will offer a presentation and a photo exhibition about a long bicycle race they participated in, and won, last year. It took them all the way from Belgium to Greece via countless stopovers, a trip of 4000 kilometers (2485 miles).
On top of it all, startup companies will present their latest inventions which might change the way we right bikes in the foreseeable future.
This the Berlin, the most politically correct place in Germany. Therefore vegan burgers will be offered at the trade fair, but also proper food such as pasta and burritos. Calories can not just be lost while bicycle riding. They need to come in first.
‘VELOBerlin’ will take place on April 27th and 28th, this coming weekend, at Tempelhof Airport, hangars 5 and 6 as well as outside the building, from 10:00 a.m. to 6 p.m.. Day tickets are 7 Euro when purchased online, or 9 Euro on site. ‘VELOBerlin’s website can be accessed here.