Biking the world – a comparison of Germany, The Netherlands and Cambodia

Before I go to Vienna in 4 four days (and I’m absolutely excited to go) I wanted to share a post on biking as this is something I do everyday. I like biking – in a way of travelling from A to B, not in a sporty kind of way. I’ve been riding a bike here in Germany for about 24 years now (I think I learned to ride a bike at around the age of five). Other than in Germany I’ve been on a bike only in Cambodia and the Netherlands so far and everywhere it was different.

Germany: Here I learned how to ride a bike.

  • Bike lanes: They exist but not everywhere and where there is none, don’t expect cars to care for you. I still think I might die one day on my bike on the way to work. And where there are bike lanes, be sure, some idiot will take them for a perfect parking spot.
  • Security: Helmets are not obligatory but more and more people wear them. Personally I’ve fared well enough without one so far, so I’ll stick to not wearing one as long as possible. Lights on the bike are obligatory after dusk.
  • Tip: Ringing is not overly appreciated so only do it in cases of emergency or if you can’t make yourself heard or seen in any other way. Taking people with you (except for little children in special seats) is neither common nor allowed but not unheard of.
  • Maps & Routes: There are bike maps and route signage. We did pretty well following the signs from Bremen to Hamburg in 2008.

The Netherlands: Some conclusions after our bike trip (here in part 1, part 2 and part 3)

  • Bike Lanes: Stick to lanes and there to the right side. You’ll most likely be slower than the “Natives” and shouldn’t be in their way
  • Security: I cannot remember having seen anyone with a helmet, maybe except for the sporty bikers on the beach route. Lights are obligatory after dusk.
  • Tip 1: If in a city  you want to show tourists that they don’t act according to the rules and walk on bike lanes: ring, ring and ring again. If you want to let other people know you are about to overtake, in any case, ring too.
  • Tip 2: Taking people with you, from small children in special seats to your best friend who just happend not to have bike with him or her, is acceptable. You will also hardly ever see little children on bikes (which is understandably, because it is a bit dangerous with that many grown bikers I guess).
  • Maps & Routes: The bike lane network is extensive. Signage is good but you need a map to figure out the knot points in advance. When you have those you don’t need the map anymore.

Cambodia: with an experience of biking in Siem Reap and the Angkor region, we might have a little experience in biking there.

  • Bike lanes: I don’t know about the situation elsewhere in Cambodia but I guess bike lanes don’t exist here. And you don’t need them. Just follow the tip and you’ll be fine.
  • Safety: Safety measures on a bike? As long as it works, it’s just fine. But lights are useful if you are caught by dusk outside of the city center as we were because there are no street lights or any other lights.
  • Best tip: Never stop moving! You are approaching a big crossroad? Keep on going! Everybody does so and it works pretty well. Try to be brave and act as much a local as possible and you’ll have no problem.
  • Maps & Routes: I don’t think there are special bike maps but most streets that are not the main highway (which on the side lane should be fine still) are suitably for biking.

I’m already thinking about where to take my bike next (or maybe where to hire one, because sticking only to the slow trains because of the bike is a bit annoying). But I’m a lazy person so it should somewhere flat… Maybe Vienna has cheap bikes for rent…

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