BikeSurfBerlin logo: “Two legs good. Free wheels better.” Designed by Tim Warden. Image courtesy of BikeSurfBerlin.
Graham Pope and Andrew March wrote this guest post on BikeSurfBerlin and cycling tips in Berlin. Pope is the co-founder of BikeSurfBerlin – bikesurf.org – a project which lends out bikes for free (donations welcomed) in Berlin. March is an environmental engineer, sorts out the tricky IT stuff for the project and has biked thousands of kilometers within the Berlin city limits.
BikeSurfBerlin is our bike lending service in Berlin.
We differ from other bike lending services in that our users (aka BikeSurfers) are under no obligation to pay for riding our bikes. However, donations of bikes, bike parts and cash are welcomed to help keep the project sustainable. We utilize the same trust system as BeWelcome and Couchsurfing and this obviates the need for us to take a deposit or documentation from the BikeSurfer.
In 2012, Pau Simo and Graham Pope founded the bike lending service in Berlin to enable people to have free access to green transport in a bike-friendly city. Since its inception, over 170 BikeSurfers have used the service and the number of bikes available has increased from three to twelve.
BikeSurfBerlin (BSB) now has ten members who provide their expertise in the areas of bike mechanics, logistics, promotion, information technology and fundraising. We organize events including bike rides, puncture repair classes and BSB T-shirt making to help promote both the project and a cycling culture.
By minimizing the costs of running such a service, developing an efficient booking system and relying on the expertise of our team of volunteers, our project has been a success. We are always looking for more volunteers to help us run and expand the service.
BikeSurfBerlin Critical Mass 04/11/13 – BikeSurfBerlin team members (Fabian Barkhau, Graham Pope, Brianna Stracuzzi, Vincent Hermann and Samuel Bryson) with BikeSurfers and supporters. Photo credit: Jerry Springfield.
The process of requesting a bike from BikeSurfBerlin is:
1. Check availability of the bikes on the website
2. Fill in a BikeSurf request form
3. Receive the location, name and combination number of the bike
4. Collect the bike on appointed day
5. Bring back the bike at the end of the lending period
This non-monetary, trust-based system is viable. To further encourage the growth of a network of BikeSurf projects, we are developing www.bikesurf.org and guidelines on setting up your own BikeSurf branch can be found on our website. Other plans include establishing our project as a Non-Governmental Organization (NGO) and finding appropriate sponsors to help financially support us.
Graham Pope and Pau Simo (July 2012) heading to Pottsdam for a weekend. Photo credit: Samuel Bryson.
5 Berlin Cycling Tips
Cycling Berlin is fantastic with many rewards, use these tips to make your ride even better:
1. Are you a vehicle or pedestrian? Bikes, like vehicles, stay in their lanes, signal to pass and turn, and wait behind lights. Pedestrians are slow and use sidewalks and crosswalks. Not only is this the safe option, but the legal one – you can get fined for sidewalk riding and running red lights.
2. Suitable locks and locations! You want to keep riding, so it’s good to invest in a lock, then attach it securely. Try a heavy chain lock or U-Lock or combination to go around your frame and wheels. Be smart, attach securely.
3. Avoid cobblestones, they are uncomfortable. Check Google maps for the “Bike” view and try to follow streets with solid green lines (bike lanes) or dotted lines (bike-friendly streets).
4. Bbbike.de – Discover this route planner for cyclists in Berlin. Make bike-friendly route calculations, this will also help you find dedicated bike paths.
5. Park love: Berlin has a great number of parks that are fun to explore by bike. Try Treptower, Hasenheide, Tempelhof, Volkspark Friedrichshain, or tackle the hill at Viktoriapark.
Read about more Green Travelers.