by Petra Lessoing
86th Airlift Wing Public Affairs
With warmer weather the time for bicyclists has come. Before the first ride, the bike should be checked to see if it still is in a good condition and safe.
To be safe and comfortable, the bicycle must be put into the right position correspondingly to the person’s size and height. The height of the frame, the length of the pedals, the shape of the handlebars and saddle have to be taken into consideration.
To avoid becoming a security risk in traffic, good visibility and correct lights are extremely important.
German traffic regulations require properly installed lights consisting of a white front light, a dynamo, a red rear light, a white front and a red rear reflector as well as yellow front and rear wheel pedal reflectors.
The classical dynamo can be supported by battery-run lights — if the bicyclist has to stop at an intersection, the lights will still work and provide visibility. A warning bell and a dual brake system are also required.
Bicyclists must take care of their own safety by wearing a helmet, bright or light-colored clothes and protection for body parts, which easily get injured. On military installations, bicyclists must wear a properly fastened and approved helmet, which must meet the American National Standards institute, Snell Memorial Foundation Standards, or Economic Commission Europe Standards for bicycle helmets.
To avoid risky situations, it is very important to drive on bicycle paths if available. In April, the fine for bikers not using marked bicycle paths, was raised to €20. It is not allowed to ride on sidewalks. Bicyclists must always ride on the right-hand side of the street.
The following traffic regulations must be obeyed:
• It’s forbidden to ride a bike the wrong way on a one-way street unless a specific sign located under the one-way street sign permits it. The sign has the symbol of a bike and says “frei” (free) or “Radfahrer frei” (free for bicyclists).
• When turning, hand signals must be used.
• Carriers are needed to transport packages or groceries.
• Children up to 8 years old must ride on sidewalks. When the road must be crossed, they must push the bike across.
• Bicyclists are authorized to have a passenger only if the passenger is not more than 7 years old and the bicyclist is at least 16 years old. An additional seat and footrests must be provided for the passenger.
• It is not allowed to ride side by side in traffic.
• Bicyclists are required to ride in a single file outside city limits.
• It is allowed to pass slowly on the right of stopped vehicles (for example, at a stop light) if there is at least one meter between the bicycle and the vehicle being passed.
• Bicyclists are required to slow down and stop, if necessary, for passengers entering or exiting buses on bicycle paths.
To park the bike, cyclists should use a solid lock and chain the bike’s frame and the front and rear wheel if possible to a non-moving object such as a bike rack or light pole.
Some communities have their own bicycle registration or theft-prevention system. The local military police or security forces station or installation coordinator can provide registration information.
German Polizei will fine bicyclists disobeying German traffic regulations such as ignoring red traffic lights (fine is €45), or driving bikes with serious defects. Bicyclists riding intoxicated risk to lose their driver’s license.