My Ride: Bicycling the friendlier streets of Munich, Germany

Unfortunately, there won’t be any Morning Links today; dealing health issues — my wife’s and my own — kept me from being able to work yesterday. I’ll try to make up for it with a special Weekend Links tomorrow.

Instead, we’re reviving the Describe Your Ride feature, now retitled simply My Ride, with a special guest post and videos from Ralph Durham, a longtime friend of this site who moved from the Bay Area to Munich, Germany. And found the riding experience much different from the US.

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Well, hallo from München (Munich). Yes the home of Oktoberfest.

I’ve been following Ted’s blog for several years and always find it enlightening. I said I would send him some pictures and video if he wanted them or had space to put them up.

I’ve been living in München for 2 years now. My wife took a position here and was nice enough to allow me to join her. She just wants ‘ein Hausmann’. I am getting around the town more and more. Getting to play tour guide to guests and the like. We are on the Warm Showers list so have met some very interesting cyclists.

I’m now retired so this will not be my commute ride. Back in the SF Bay area I commuted almost daily the 12 miles into work. I’m no stranger to busy streets and highspeed roads. I must say that the cycling facilities are much better than I’m used to having. It’s not Holland where my wife and I rode around for 10 days a while ago. This is a slightly modified version of the route I took last year to my German classes.

The video(s) linked are from my house to the center of town. Comes in at about 8 Km. One video is 36 minutes long and is the whole thing. I have also cut it up into 3 sections. Just in case you don’t have over half an hour to take from your day at one time. I intend to put up on Youtube the other variations of the route. This route is a bit longer and slower than the fast way. The fastest way for me involves staying on the major streets (with separated bike provision) more than other options. The traffic here doesn’t bother me.

Cycling in München and around is quite easy if you know your way…. Very little is on any kind of grid. The interior, inner ring, is old and there isn’t much in the way of direct provision. The speed limit where there is no provision shown is normally 30 KPH (18 mph). I’m currently getting my driver’s license. The book is thick. The tests expensive. If you fail you pay again. They really pound road safety into you. Residential sections are 30. Very limited signs as to right of way. The rule is car on the right has priority. No signs, car on the right has priority. That goes for cyclists also. If I have the priority position the driver must give way. And they do. Which I found very disconcerting. And they found very annoying when I tried to give the right of way.

Traffic signals. There is essentially no right turn on red. The lights are on the near side of the intersection. If you pull up into the crosswalk and bike lane you won’t see the light. There is no benefit to do so because you can’t turn right anyway. Drivers turning right are expected to go part way around the corner so that trailing drivers can pass and then they can see down the bike path/sidewalk for oncoming traffic. Did this scare me to death a few times? Yes. I’m better at it now but still check to see that they will stop for my priority. If streets are single lane one way normally a cyclist can ride contra flow. This is indicated with a sign just under the don’t enter sign.

Please excuse the audio and video. I’m still dealing with my learning flat line (a curve implies improvement).

Full version:

Part 1:

Part 2:

Part 3:

This video starts from the entrance path to our apartment. Right away you will see that my street has 2 vehicle lanes, parking, trees and or parking, the bike way, and a sidewalk. Both sides of the road. This in Grosshadern and this planned community of high-rises was built up 1970 and on. Underneath is the subway line U6. U6 runs right into the center of town and up past Alliance Arena, home of Bayern München. When I cross the main street further along there are entrances to the U6. One on each corner plus a lift. Two of the entrances have escalators which can go both directions depending on who gets there first. After the intersection the road necks down because the area is older. We pass another U station then a main junction under construction. This used to be the outer ring road but just after we arrived they opened a 4 Km tunnel, 400 million euro. This must have been fun to install when you had to keep the U6 running while you put in a 6 car/truck lane freeway tunnel. They are changing the top to become more of a boulevard. Then we head on to Partnachplatz another U station.

Here I diverge from the U route. A right left at the station will allow you to follow the U and is more riding beside a busy street. So instead I sweep to the left. I will then turn right at the eastern entrance of Westpark. I missed the turn by one short block in the video but that means I also missed a few hundred meters of cobble stones….. We then go back onto the route that has a bike ped tunnel under the S-bahn. This is the suburban train. This system runs though München but goes further out.

Turn left at the Kirche and follow the route until we join the road I normally take for speed. Through the little park, along another road and then duck under a slow intersection into the space where Oktoberfest is held. Theresienwiese, 4.5 million square feet largely used for the 16 day party. On the left side is the Statue Bavaria. Bronze 60 ft high and you can climb up into her head. Not for hot sunny days… We go along the tree lined side of the park and then turn into the older wealthy central area of town. Past the construction at the hospital and we meet up with Lindwurmstrasse. This street is the one I would take had I not gone on the more scenic route.

This is just before Sendlingertor. It is one of the original gates to the city. The only other original gate is Isartor. There is a crazy amount of construction going on here. S-tor has 6 U-bahn lines, 5 tram lines (streetcars), and 2 bus lines meet here. They are rebuilding and enlarging parts of the underground station and revamping the water handling system. The U-bahns are under the water table. Of course all lines will be kept running. München is 1.5 million people. Though S-tor the U-bahn runs 1500 trains per day, each train is over 300 ft long.

From S-tor we drop into the city center and then to the Viktuelmarkt. Good place to pick up lunch from a variety of vendors or other eating places. This has a biergarten also so you can kick up your heels and meet all kinds of people from who knows where at eh communal tables. The road through is a pedestrian zone so vehicle traffic is quite limited (and just horrible to drive through) I turn at the end and go under the building which was the Altenrathaus (old) to show you the Neuerathaus (new) (1907) City offices and main square. The Glockenspiel is also there. It plays 3 times a day, plus you can go up into the tower. Then I head back and turn to Isartor. If you continue through you end up at the Isar river.

Hope you enjoy the video. If you want more info I’ll give Ted my email and you can contact direct or use his handy comments section. I will be putting more up onto Youtube at some point. I’m hoping to learn how to strip the audio but that might mean buying software other than the camera companies free one.

Keep riding. Enjoy life.

Ralph

As an added bonus, he also shared this short clip riding on a bike and pedestrian bridge suspended under railroad tracks over the Isar River.

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My Ride is about your own experiences riding a bike — where and how you ride, whether good or bad, or anything in between. It can be a rant or rave, a description of your favorite route or how riding makes you feel. And any way you want, in words or pictures, bike cam video, or any other format you think tells the story best, wherever you happen to ride.

If you’d like to share your story, just send an email to the address on the About BikinginLA page.

Let’s keep the conversation going.

7 comments

  1. keith says:

    My ride… Interesting to see how cycling goes in other countrys and transportation in general too, especially mass transit (bus, rail & subway). I did bike in Denmark where they had free bicycles to use where I stayed. Cycling seems to be more of a way of life in European countrys, everyone rides.

  2. 1) I hope you and your wife feel better soon!

    2) Thanks for re-igniting the My Ride feature. I enjoy bicycle rides from someone else’s perspective, and the videos from Ralph Durham were a great way to see how things are done differently but quite sensibly in what to me is a land far away.

  3. David Drexler says:

    Hope that you both feel better.

  4. Todd says:

    Thanks for sharing this!

    Posts like these — showing how nice cycling can be — are like kitten pictures after seeing so much other bad news about cycling lately.

  5. vooch says:

    munich is a nightmare – some alternative videos which highlight the crazed insane experiments these Bavarians tried. Sure to fail.

    https://m.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLzNM_rzDSme6P4gvpkVIVGEo1ta2TFMeS

    • Ralph says:

      Yup, war on cars. I recognized all those places. Munich does have parking garages which have strategically placed signs to let you know how many spaces are available.

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