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Saturday, December 2, 2023

Wheel rowdies on Berlin’s sidewalks: rolling next to the street

Riding a bike on the sidewalk? But everyone does that! A brisk and carefree roll – our columnist is so fed up with it.

A man crosses a cyclist on an e-scooter

The normal Berlin sidewalk perspective: Everything rolls cheerfully in front of your feet from everywhere Photo: Christoph Soeder/dpa/picture alliance

Regular readers of my column may have asked themselves why, as a pedestrian, I haven’t written anything about the problem of cyclists on the sidewalk.

That’s because I’m so terribly tired of it: I’m tired of cyclists driving around me at high speeds when they can’t make any progress on the crowded street at their speed and see the sidewalk as an alternative lane, and I’m the same way fed up when they do that in the dark in the evening because the light on their bike doesn’t work again and between the cars, yes them something could happen. I’m tired of cyclists driving past me hands-free because they’re just trying to write a message on their cell phone. I’m fed up when a group of tourists on e-bikes come towards me at full width because some bike rental company supposedly told them that in Berlin you can also ride a bike on the sidewalk, “dooooch!” Absolutely, you can! Everyone does it!”

Yes, exactly.

And above all, I’m fed up when some idiot on his bike on the sidewalk as he speeds past gives me a condescending, drawn-out “Yesssssss…” when I ask him what’s wrong with the wide bike path secured with plastic bollards. which runs right next to the sidewalk. Because this is the arrogant “Yeah yeah” of those who actually think: “You just complain, we’ll get rid of you too!” And it surprises, hurts and embarrasses me for various reasons.

It surprises me because I think that cyclists sometimes have to walk and experience for themselves how dangerous it is to cycle quickly on the sidewalk, and for the cyclists too!

It hurts me because, as a person walking in a crowded city, I too public space is a luxury good has become, just like all other road users, want to be seen and accepted, have space and rights. I apologize, but it must be clear to even the stupidest cyclist that not everyone can or wants to ride a bike all the time (at some point, for example, he himself is on crutches after a collision with a pedestrian…). No, you won’t get rid of us pedestrians, the other way around it will become a shoe-in: you’ll get old and/or sick and have to use the sidewalk on foot, and then let’s see who’s complaining!

I don’t want to be that

And here we come to the third point, that it makes me ashamed – because I don’t want to be like that! I don’t want to be a complaining old woman who shouts “asshole” at bike hooligans on the sidewalk (yes, unfortunately it’s happened, sorry!), and I embarrass myself when I look up on the Internet what “pushing a bike” means in English (” “push your bike”) so that I can also provide foreign tourists with correct information.

I am simply a pedestrian: not a rigid obstacle, but a moving subject who sometimes suddenly turns to the right on the sidewalk to cross the street, sometimes strolls to the left to look into a shop window, sometimes zigzags to overtake, Because she’s in a hurry, she stops for a moment to chat with friends. And who is allowed to do that. Yes, she can do that. And now there’s enough complaining.

(Just a moment: I’m already calling out to all cyclists who want to write nasty comments under this column: “Yeah, yeah…! Just get rid of it.”)

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