Sunday, July 01, 2012
Bonn to Koblenz by bike
To me, a city's livability is directly related to its bikeablity. The easier it is to get in, out and around a city by bicycle, the happier I am to live there.
Bonn may not be the world's most dynamic city but what it lacks in excitement it makes up for in bikeability. The city is littered with bike lanes, bike paths, bike trails, bike stoplights, bike stores, bike rental shops, bike parking spaces, bike signs, bike routes and bike maps. (Unfortunately, being a paradise for cyclists also makes Bonn a paradise for thieves. Stories about stolen bikes are as ubiquitous as sauerkraut and sausages.)
Not only is it easy and safe to get around Bonn by bike, it's easy to ride from Bonn to other cities and towns in Germany (or to neighbouring countries, for that matter). Pretty much every region in Germany has a network of signposted bike routes. The country is criss-crossed by more than 200 long-distance trails covering 70,000 km, which makes it a perfect place for bike touring.
One of the first things I did when I arrived in Bonn was buy a bike. I've been itching to get out and do some cycle touring on the weekends but the weather wasn't cooperating. So when the forecast finally called for blue skies and warm temperatures yesterday, I decided to test out some of Germany's trails with a short 65 km ride down the Rhine from Bonn to Koblenz.
The nice thing about the ride was that it was almost entirely car-free. The majority of the route was down a bike path beside the Rhine, with a few back roads, forest trails and city streets thrown in for fun. The whole thing was well signposted with markers every few kilometres.
The best thing about the ride was that every 10 km or so, the path would cut through a small town on the banks of the Rhine, which meant plenty of opportunities for cake and coffee breaks. It took us more than seven hours to ride the 65 km to Koblenz. Of that, only four hours were spent in the saddle. The rest of the time was spent eating, relaxing and taking photos.
We arrived in Koblenz with enough energy to do some sightseeing before dinner. And, of course, no German bike adventure would be complete without capping it off with a tall, cold, German beer.
Heading back to Bonn was easy because bikes can be taken on trains in Germany. You can always ride one way and take public transport back. It's just one more layer of bikeability, which makes me happy to live here.