I travelled Kansas many years ago but, now that I’m in Germany, I must follow the red brick road — if I’m on a bicycle. On foot, I must follow the brown brick road. These strictures are taken seriously in Germany. Whether on or off a bike, the two roads seldom cross. When they do, a collision might result.
Red vs. Brown Brick Road
Germany appears to be a health-conscious population. Many people ride bicycles, perhaps women more than men, although I often find couples riding together. They ride on the red brick track which parallels the brown brick track that pedestrians use. It is important that the pedestrian never step onto the bicycle path, as these bicycles come silently from behind and whiz by. The bicycle has the right of way.
Europeans Ride Seriously
Bicycle riding is common throughout Europe. Many bicycle tracks exist. There is one track of 2,175 miles which crosses Europe, of which 580 miles are in Germany. Another track of 225 miles follows the Ems River which originates in Northwest Germany and flows to the North Sea. This is a very popular route as the area is flat lowlands. This river forms the border between Germany and The Netherlands and was long a boundary dispute between the two countries. This was not settled until 2014.
The state of North Rhine-Westphalia where I am house sitting is the number one cycling area in Germany. The government takes bicycle transportation very seriously, conscious of health, environmental and climate concerns. Over 2 billion dollars have been spent to allow bicyclists to follow the red brick road along some 6,213 miles throughout the country.
Don’t Own a Bicycle?
If you don’t own a bike, it’s very easy to rent one. These bikes are usually found at train stations for visitors and residents alike. You can order a bike electronically and pay by credit card. Each bike has its own identifying number and its location can be found online. These bikes are locked, but payment is followed by a code for unlocking. The bike can be deposited anywhere after riding and its location noted. It’s now ready for the next rider.
Cars once replaced the horse. Will the bicycle now replace the car?
Fact: It is predicted that in the future 25% of all traffic routes in North Rhine-Westphalia will be bicycle routes
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