Everywhere we went in Heidelberg, people were riding bicycles. Bike lanes are everywhere, bikes in secure storage sheds, bikes locked to fences, bikes sitting outside doors, houses, restaurants, pubs. Not many helmets worn there, but in a city that so warmly and enthusiastically embraces and encourages the cycling lifestyle, drivers are much more used to integrating with their two-wheeled friends. And I mean ‘friends’– Heidelberg has nothing in common with the way cyclists and drivers seem out for each other in this country, whether it’s cyclists disobeying traffic laws or drivers behaving dangerously or disrespectfully around the cyclists.
It was amazing to witness. Heidelberg has it right. In fact, we saw loads of people out having a good evening and drinks in town and still able to hop onto a bike and — not even wobbly — ride off home. Bikes also seemed secure. The apartment block we stayed in had an open ‘car port’ style bike shed in front of the building. No security or fence, just a place to lock up (or just park) your bike. And there were dozens in there! It was like looking at a culture that had never considered the possibility of bicycle theft. I’m sure that’s not the case, but Heidelberg seems to not have a problem with it.
I wish attitudes in the UK (and in the US) were a little better regarding cycling as transportation. We saw young, old, and every body type choosing to be on bikes. It was inspiring.