Members’ Forum: is cycling on German streets all it’s cracked up to be?

While some people rave about how pleasant it is to cycle in Germany, what with the abundance of bike lanes everywhere, is it really all that? What are the areas you think can be improved? And have you ever committed a rookie cyclist’s mistake? Members are encouraged to log in and share their experience in the comments section below.

Members’ Forum: is cycling on German streets all it’s cracked up to be?
Photo: DPA

With the arrival of spring, sunny skies and warm temperatures across the country, the number of people travelling by bike has noticeably increased.

As such, we’ve taken a look at the ten key rules and tips you need to know in order to stay safe as a cyclist on the streets of the Bundesrepublik.

The Local’s Shelley Pascual has been commuting by bike in various German cities for years. She says she still notices lots of other cyclists not adhering to the “right before left” rule.  

When Shelley moved to Braunschweig, Lower Saxony in 2012, the first faux paus she committed as a biker was cycling on the sidewalk. At the time, she didn’t know that this is not allowed unless you are a child under the age of ten.

She was alerted to the fact that she was breaking the rules by a fellow resident, who angrily berated her for biking where she wasn’t supposed to be.

Bike lanes in Berlin. Photo: DPA

Jörg Luyken made a rather more dangerous mistake on his first pedalled adventure through a German city. Delighted by Munich’s clearly marked cycle lanes he sped down to the city centre on a mountain bike he had borrowed from a friend.

Only later did the penny drop as to why so many people had been shaking their fists at him: he was cycling on the wrong side of the road.

Have you ever been scolded from other road users for your actions? Or do you think pedestrians in Germany are too hard on cyclists?

Share your stories and tips with other members and leave a comment below.

If you would like to propose an idea for the Members’ Forum or even write a piece for Members to read, please email [email protected]

Member comments

  1. I’m used to following the rules when cycling but in many areas of Berlin the ridiculous cobbled streets mean it really makes sense to cycle on the pavement.

  2. Here in, you guessed it, Weimar everyone seems to cycle on the pavement. I’ve never seen anyone pulled over for it.

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REVEALED: The most commonly asked questions about Germans and Germany

Ever wondered what the world is asking about Germany and the Germans? We looked at Google’s most searched results to find out – and help clear some of these queries up.

Hasan Salihamidzic, the sports director of FC Bayern, arrives with his wife at Oktoberfest in full traditional dress. Photo: picture alliance/dpa |

According to popular searches, Germany is the go-to place for good coffee and bread (although only if you like the hard kind) and the place to avoid if what you’re looking for is good food, good internet connection and low taxes. Of course, this is subjective; some people will travel long stretches to get a fresh, hot pretzel or a juicy Bratwurst, while others will take a hard pass.

When it comes to the question on the bad Internet – there is some truth to this. Germany is known for being behind other rich nations when it comes to connectivity. And from personal experience, the internet connection can seem a little medieval. The incoming German coalition government has, however, vowed to improve internet connectivity as part of their plans to modernise the country.

There are also frequent questions on learning the German language, and people pointing out that it is hard and complicated. This is probably due to the long compound words and its extensive grammar rules, however, as both English and German are Germanic languages with similar words in common, it’s not impossible to learn as an English-speaker.

Here’s a look at some of those questions…

Why is German called Deutsch? Whereas ‘German’ comes from the Latin, ‘Deutsch’ instead derives itself from the Indo-European root “þeudō”, meaning “people”. This slowly became “Deutsch” as we know it today. It can be a bit confusing to English-speakers, who are right to think it sounds a little more like “Dutch”, however the two languages do have the same roots which may explain it.

And why is Germany so boring? Again, probably a generalisation, especially given that Germany has a landmass of over 350,000 km² with areas ranging from high rise, industrial cities to traditional old town villages and even mountain ranges, so you’re sure to find a place that doesn’t bore you to tears.

Perhaps it is a question that comes from the stereotype that Germans are obsessed with being strict about rules, organised and analytical. Or that they have no sense of humour – all of these things being not the most exciting traits. 

Either way, from my experience I can confirm that, even though there is truth to German society enjoying order and rules, the vast majority of people are not boring, and I’m sure if you come to Germany you’ll meet many interesting, funny and exciting people. 

READ ALSO: 12 mistakes foreigners make when moving to Germany

When it comes to the German weather, most people assume a cold and cloudy climate, however this isn’t entirely true. While the autumn and winter, especially in the north, come with grey skies and sub-zero temperatures, Germany can have some beautiful summers, with temperatures frequently rising above 30C in some places.

Unsurprisingly, the power and wealth of the German nation is mentioned – Germany is the largest economy in Europe after all, with a GDP of 3.8 trillion dollars. This could be due to strong industry sectors in the country, including vehicle constructions (I was a little surprised to find no questions posed on German cars), chemical and electrical industry and engineering. There are also many strong economic cities in Germany, most notably Munich, Frankfurt am Main and Hamburg.

READ ALSO: Eight unique words and phrases that tell us something about Germany

Smart and tall?

Why are Germans so tall? They are indeed taller than many other nations, with the average German measuring a good 172.87cm (or 5 feet 8.06 inches), however this may be a question better posed to the Dutch, who make up the tallest people in the world.

Why are Germans so smart? While this is again a generalisation – as individuals have different levels of intelligence in all countries – this question may stem from Germany’s free higher education system or their seemingly efficient work ethic. Plus there does seem to be some scientific research behind this question, with a study done in 2006 finding that Germans had the highest IQ in Europe.

So, while many of the questions posed about Germany and Germans on Google stem from stereotypes, we can confirm that some aren’t entirely made up. If you’re looking to debunk some frequently asked questions about France and the French, check out this article by our sister site HERE.