This week was a great week for biking to work. The weather is just perfect right now: not cold any more, but not hot yet. And so it was finally time to break out the spring coat and the spring nail polish and pedal along. No, it doesn’t always rain in Hamburg (only most of the time). Proof:
Alas, tomorrow it’s all supposed to be over again, and rain will be with us for the weekend. Well, you can’t have everything. Today though, I even enjoyed a beautiful half hour on my balcony after work, soaking up the sun while reading a magazine.
But then also, the annoyances. If the below picture leads you to think that this beautiful spring weather is making people in Hamburg a bit crazy because they’re not used to it and it screws with their minds, then you are wrong. It’s always like this. This, friends, is how people park in this wonderful city (for the locals, this is Hochallee*):
The space between the thick white line on the left and the kerb is, supposedly, the bike lane. Hamburg drivers seem to take this as an invitation to mount an obstacle course for cyclists, though. Note the following:
- The grey Mercedes parked three quarters on the kerb (where it’s supposed to be), three quarters on the bike lane. Not great, but way not the worst thing about this picture.
- The two cars (a black Mercedes and a Jeep) parked half on the street, half on the bike lane. There’s actually a third car in front of the Jeep which you can’t see. Also, this happens in both directions: the yellow van on the far left is parked exactly the same way.
- The Jeep’s open door, which pretty much completely blocks the bike lane. Here the door is already open, but this parking “set-up” also invites dooring situations where a car door is suddenly opened in the way of an unsuspecting cyclist.
And do you know the best part? The Jeep’s door was open because its owner was loading it with her kid and heaven knows what else. I used the opportunity to point out to her she couldn’t just park on the bike lane. Do you know what she said (OK, my wording may have invited this response)? She said “Yes, I can”. Then she disappeared into the safety of her stupidly large car and drove off before I could argue with her.
Agreed, this area of town is notoriously short of parking spaces – the downside of all these beautiful town houses built before the motorised era. However, this sort of parking is a known issue. If I were the Hamburg police, I’d put a nice plain-clothed colleague there (it’s spring and nice out, they’d even get some fresh air) to catch these lovely car owners in the act. I bet that after a few days of handing out fines, the problem would go away at least for a while.
*This street is full of good intentions for cyclists that are badly executed. I’m already plotting the next post.