Europe by CycleRichard Oliver
In the UK, where you drive on the left side of the road, you also bike on the left – you just have to remember that they also switched the hand brakes, i.e. the right brake works the front wheel – I almost did an “endo” the first time I made a sudden stop!
Interestingly, in Paris, buses and bikes often co-shared the same marked lane –it seemed counter-intuitive at first, but it appears to work fine.
However, the most biker-friendly city was Munich (München). Besides designated bike lanes on the streets, they also had many bike lanes marked off on the wide sidewalks separate from pedestrians, plus discrete biker traffic signals. And of course, the many beer gardens had beautiful bike paths to ride, in between the frequent beer and pretzel layovers!
Besides city riding, we also made a point to do countryside rides. Austria, in particular, had delightful pastoral roads with smooth asphalt to enjoy the gorgeous scenery. Plus there were many wayside picnic huts to partake of our daily rations of fine wine and cheese!
On our many rides, we found virtually no language barriers, as the bicycle was truly the Europe-wide passport for meeting friendly and charming locals, and provided an immediate entrée to their warmth and good cheer. (BTW, we also made time for the many marvelous cathedrals, museums, palaces and castles.)
The late summer/early fall weather was steadily pleasant for our tour, especially for riding. We just wore short-sleeve jerseys, and carried a water-proof windbreaker which we rarely needed. We are currently deep in the planning phase for next year’s trek: 25 days in Italy, with many planned biking adventures.