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(c) Dominik Ketz/Romantischer Rhein Tourismus

Cycling is fun

I grew up in the Lower Rhine region of North Rhine-Westphalia, close to Dusseldorf. The area is quite flat, compared to other regions in Germany, making it perfect for cycling. As a child, I would think nothing of cycling the 5-mile round trip to school every day. I think I was about 9 years old when I was allowed to do the trip unaccompanied. Looking back, I seemed to cycle everywhere and often took off on weekend breaks with my Dad and my brother. I’m sure you’ve guessed by now that I absolutely loved my bike! My friends affectionately called it my ‘Mary Poppins’ bike because of the little basket I had attached to the front. I’m certainly not an expert or an extreme cyclist in any shape or form but for me, it’s more about the enjoyment and being outdoors. There’s no better way to explore the countryside and discover new paths with your family.

 

Cycling routes – the safest way to travel

Since moving to the UK, I certainly don’t cycle as much as I used to in Germany. This is mainly down to not feeling safe. I’m more accustomed to the highly-developed, safe routes through the cities, villages and forests in Germany. Like so many of us, I often took my surroundings for granted and didn’t fully appreciate the hassle-free cycling around Dusseldorf and the River Rhine; Krefeld, Monchengladbach, as well as areas closer to the Dutch border. Now I’m in the UK, I always look forward to organising my next cycling trip whenever I go back– to the amusement of my Mum! I also consciously make the effort to absorb what is around me – from the Poplar trees that line the rivers and streams to the beautiful meadows along the River Rhine.

 

Cycling for pleasure is on the up

Cycling is becoming more and more popular in many aspects of our lives. According to (Statista), the number of bikes in Germany has gone from 68 million in 2007 to 72 million in 2015; meaning every household has an average of two to three bikes. Sales figures show that trekking, city and e-bikes are the most popular. Many people cycle to the train station for their commute to work, with some putting on their cycling gear and cycling all the way in. However, this enthusiasm isn’t always reflected in other European countries. Figures published by (Cycling UK) shows that only 4% of the UK population cycle daily.

 

Travel to work 2015 (England): % trips per person by main mode
Walk Cycle Car/van driver Car/van passenger Other
11% 4% 56% 9% 21%

 

However, the organisation does mention that cycle traffic in the UK has risen almost every year since 2008.

A cycle to work scheme was introduced in the UK to promote healthier lifestyles and reduce pollution. The 1999 UK Government’s Finance Act introduced a tax exception for employers to loan cycles to employees as a tax-free benefit.

On 26th January 2017, the Transport Minister, Andrew Jones MP, announced that thousands more people would be encouraged to cycle or walk to work, thanks to a £64m government investment. It is aimed at supporting local projects over the next 3 years and will form part of a wider government package of more than £300m to boost walking and cycling. He goes on to say that by 2040, the government aims to make walking and cycling part of everyday life and a natural choice for shorter journeys.

 

Good reasons to cycle

Cycling can so easily fit into daily life without needing to find that extra time to exercise. A good friend of mine, who is a keen cyclist, told me that he cycles to work around two or three times a week, killing two birds with one stone! So, by the time he starts his day, his exercise is done and feels refreshed and fit. I must admit, I do take my hat off to such determination and discipline. Nevertheless, any form of activity is good for us. Cycling UK shows us some of the fantastic benefits of cycling.

  • It improves physical and mental health

  • It fits easily into our daily routine (cycling to work, to school, to the shops)

  • It’s inexpensive

  • It’s environmentally friendly

 

Cycling holidays are becoming more popular

Whenever I go on a cycling trip, I like to plan in some great places to stop along the way. Cafés, restaurants or even a beer garden are just perfect to enjoy something to eat before heading off again. Germany really does have some amazing routes that pass through some quite stunning scenery. Add in some great historical landmarks and some fantastic gastronomy, you can’t really go wrong.

 

Top 10 cycling routes in Germany – My personal bucket list

I’ve been lucky enough to have cycled part of the Rheinradweg trail, which makes its way along the romantic River Rhine through some truly breath-taking scenery. I cycled between Oberwesel and Bingen with friends last year and I was even able to introduce them to my favourite wine bar in Bingen. The WeinZeit Vinothek really is well worth a visit with its stunning views along the River Rhine. My cycling trips have made me curious about discovering so much more. So, I’ve created my personal bucket list of some of the best cycling routes in Germany. I’ve added the German route name in brackets so that it’s easier to navigate around once you’re in Germany. The length of each route refers to the German section, as many of the routes do extend into other countries. More information can be found on each individual website.

 

 

 

1. Rhine Cycling Route (Rheinradweg)

This 900km route is part of the EuroVelo 15 cycling route and you can start in Germany close to the Dutch border, passing Xanten, Dusseldorf, Cologne, Bonn, Bingen, Karlsruhe down to the South of Germany at Lake Constance.

Difficulty level: Easy

  Rhine Cycling Route Rhine Cycling Route[/caption]

 

2. Baltic Sea Coastal Path (Osteeküstenradweg)

This 670km route starts in Flensburg, in the far north of Germany. It winds its way along the Baltic Sea, passing through Eckernförde, Kiel and Travemünde, before finishing in the lovely seaside town of Heringsdorf.

Difficulty level: Easy

 

Baltic Sea Coastal Cycling Path Baltic Sea Coastal Cycling Path[/caption]

 

3. Elbe Cycle Route (Elberadweg)

This 805km route starts in Cuxhaven, in the West and finishes in Saxon Switzerland in the East. (Sächsische Schweiz in German). It has been voted as one of the nation’s favourite cycling route several times by the German cycling club organisation ADFC.

Difficulty level: Moderate – recommended for children over the age of 12.

 

Elbe Cycling Route

Elbe Cycling Route

 

4. Ems cycle route (Emsradweg)

This 375km route starts at the source of the River Ems through East Frisia as far as Emden

Difficulty level: Easy – family friendly

 

Ems Cycling Route[/caption]

 

5. Weser cycle route (Weserradweg)

This 515km route starts close to Hanover and runs along the River Weser as far as Cuxhaven.

Difficulty level: Easy

 

Weser Cycling Route Weser Cycling Route[/caption]

 

6. Ruhr valley cycle route (Ruhrtalweg)

This 240km route starts in Winterberg at the source of the River Ruhr and passes through the cities of Meschede, Dortmund, Witten, Bochum, Essen and Duisburg.

Difficulty level: Easy

 

7. Moselle cycle route (Moselradweg)

This 238km route starts in Perl, close to Trier, and makes its way along the River Moselle as far as Koblenz. Here you’ll find a great blog about a personal experience cycling along the River Moselle with its fantastic vineyards.

Difficulty level: Easy – suitable for children

 

8. River Main cycle route (Mainradweg)

This long-distance cycle route (approx. 600km) starts at the source of the River Main and passes through Kulmbach and the UNESCO World Heritage sites of Bamberg and Würzburg. It then continues through Schweinfurt, Karlstadt as far as Aschaffenburg.

Difficulty level: Moderate

 

9. Danube cycle path (Donauradweg)

The German section is approx. 800km long and starts at the source of the River Danube, close to Donaueschingen in southern Germany. It passes through Ulm, Ingolstadt and Weltenburg, where you can see the famous Weltenbourg Abbey. It then continues through Regensburg as far as Passau.

Difficulty level: Easy

 

10. Lake Constance cycle path (Bodenseeradweg)

This 278km route takes you around the enchanting Lake Constance – giving you the perfect excuse to take a dip in the lake. The route continues through some beautiful old towns, with their museums, castles and fortresses. Mainau, a flower island, aptly named for its beautiful flower gardens, is also well worth a visit.

Difficulty level: Easy

 

 

I’m looking forward to getting back on my bike in the Spring and Summer.  I wish you lots of fun cycling trips, discovering new things and collecting happy memories. I’d love to see some of your favourite snaps from your bike rides!

 

Happy cycling!

 

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1 Comment

  1. Dear Nadja,

    if you cylce again along the Rhein-Radweg I’d like to meet you. I live in the southern part of Rheinland-Pfalz in Palatinate = Pfalz near the little town of Germersheim (known as town of the Spezialradmesse http://www.spezialradmesse.de). I’m a member in a local group of cyclists which all belong to the ADFC – Allgemeiner Deutscher Fahrrad-Club (Biggest german Cycling-Club with 160.000 members). Im also a member in the Dachgeber organisation (see http://www.dachgeber.de). They organize beds for cyclist – free of charge, often with additional local Information for the passing cycle-tourists. My profession ist to care for signposts along the Cycle-Paths. Im also engaged to support http://www.radwanderland.de which is the official cycling-site for Rheinland-Pfalz (overwiew of touristic routes, electronic tour guide, air-photos and maps of the whole area).

    Your welcome for a stopover in Zeiskam an we invite you to stay with me and my wife Anne. You’re welcome!

    Bye Erhardt

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