In the United States, outside of big cities, it’s very difficult to live and work without a car. Germany is one of the many places around the world, however, where that is not true.
There are bicycle lanes almost everywhere and they are clearly distinguished from the road lanes and even from the pedestrian lanes on the sidewalk where they are usually found. Drivers don’t seem to get mad at cyclists for using the roads and the bike lanes offer security for everyone.
In fact, it’s really common to see the bike paths in and around the city just about as busy as the roads, which are typically only a single lane in each direction – even busy roads.
We have both been initiated into this system now by experiencing a tire having a full-out blow-out. Last Sunday, as we were heading out to look for Mandi’s iPod, she ran over a screw which completely punctured her tire and all the air shot out. Yesterday on my way back from a hardware store, I was riding on a path in the woods and unexpectedly there was a loud pop and some of the steel wire from my tire sprang out: it was totally dead.
These weren’t fun experiences and they came at bad times, but at least it’s far cheaper and easier to deal with than a car. Right now I’m on my way to a
second third repair shop because the guys at the first two one didn’t have the right size tire to replace mine – “It’s a very rare size. You have to special-order these.” Joy.