Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Ich Liebe Call-A-Bike

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When I first moved to Munich, a friend of mine generously announced 'I brought you my Mom's old Bike from Austria, so you can use it around the city' I looked at him like he had lost his mind. I grew up in Los Angeles, who the f*ck rides a bike?

"Oh Thanks, but, I don't ride bicycles"

He encouraged me to take it anyway. I soon noticed that almost half the sidewalks were elevated bicycle paths (usually when some Münchner was aggressively ringing their bell like mad for me to get out of the way, while practically running me over). It dawned on me that if you didn't have to embark on a life-or-death battle on the street with cars, that maybe riding a bike did make sense. And unlike San Francisco (where I had moved from) Munich was flat, flat, flat.

I decided to give it a try. Oh Mein Gott! Who knew! Riding a bike! What a revelation; riding my bike through the English Garden, rolling past the street musicians past Odeonsplatz, woozily departing from the Biergarten. I love f*cking-fahrraden!

Fast forward thirteen years and "I don't ride bikes" has become:

"I don't ride bikes in the snow"

or the rain. Which brings me to my point about Call-a-Bike. As much as I like bike riding through the city, I've found I have a bad touch with bikes; namely I lose them. How do you lose a bike? Easy, you're at the Biergarten, it starts to rain, or hail - HARD - and you decide 'hmm, better take the U-bahn instead'. You don't use the bike for a few days and when you go to get it out of the Hof, it's not there...you left it somewhere...but where? I accidentally left my last bike on Weissenbergerstr. in front of the Fielmann for over a year!

Enter Call-a-Bike. Hop on, hop off, leave it wherever you like. I use the iphone app to tell me where the closest one is, usually no further than around the corner. No annoying stations to park it at, I can leave it wherever I want. Now that it is Bundesweit I can pick one up in Hamburg, Berlin and Karlsruhe, which I did easily last summer while traveling. Fahrräder at your fingertips!

To top it off, they now offer a Jahrespauschal. Pay €48 for the year and any trip less than 30 minutes is free. I went through my bills and all my trips averaged about that. What a deal!

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