You can’t throw a stone in Munich without hitting a clock or someone on a bike. In a land where, apparently, punctuality is supreme, the preferred way to arrive on time is by bike.
And this is a city that supports its bikers, naming itself the biking capital of Germany and providing bike paths citywide.
It is fitting. The history of bike-riding has strong ties to Germany, where the predecessor of the modern bike, the “dandy-horse,” was invented 200 years ago by Baron Karl Drais von Sauerbronn. Another famous German, Albert Einstein, is said to have come up with the Theory of Relativity while riding a bike.
Today, biking is a serious endeavor in Munich. I watched in fascinated joy on two separate occasions as bikers stopped to berate pedestrians who had clumped in slow-moving groups, blocking the bikers’ way.
I had just emerged from a long bout of traveling through airports, where similar slow-moving, straggling groups had frequently blocked my way on jet bridges, moving sidewalks, and narrow hallways. I’m not ashamed of how good it felt to watch a come-uppance.
I was, however, a little taken aback by the audacity of Munich bikers. Despite the otherwise famed German adherence to rules and order, bikes were parked everywhere in the city—including directly in front of signs that said, “Bike Parking Forbidden.”
And I say, good for them. Because, it is satisfying to report that for this at least, zero fucks given.