Courtesy to walkers on the decline Aggressive bikers at the Rhine

Bonn · Racing bikes at the Rhine promenade have become more of a problem for walkers. It seems there is a growing lack of respect for those who are out on the pathways for a leisurely stroll.

There are three paths to take along the Rhine promenade, two above and one below, directly at the riverside. A woman and her dog leave from the American settlement area to take one of these pathways leading towards the small lake in the Rheinaue. Everything is in place to make it an idyllic scene: the wide river off to the right, a game reserve to the left, geese on the meadow, an egret standing like a statue and a swan family to the rear.

Suddenly, a person on a bicycle comes racing towards the woman and her dog, not even braking. The biker rings the bike bell and shouts, “Get out of the way, you stupid cow!” Walkers, joggers or others who have come there to get rid of some pounds or build up some muscles have become rare. For people who are out walking with their dogs, or children who make unexpected dashes to the left or right without first looking, there’s the possibility of getting run over. At the Rhine, there are no stoplights.

Of course, it’s Germany so there is some order. The path nearest the Rhine has a sign designating it a bike path. It was marked as such by the Tiefbauamt (Civil Engineering Department). Whoever wants to cross over the bushes to get down to the Rhine notices quickly that it’s akin to a bicycle autobahn. “Wwwwwwusch” can be heard permanently as the bikes pass by. And they are not leisure bikes with baskets attached, but rather bikers with Tour de France style clothing.

The Amt für Stadtgrün (Parks Department) is responsible for the two upper level pathways and one of them is designated for walkers and one for those on wheels. A pictogram illustrates which is which. But whoever thinks this is a hard and fast rule would be wrong.

Axel Reiß of the Straßenverkehrsamt (Traffic Bureau) says they are “indications that on one of the paths, the pedestrians have the right of way and on the other, bikers have the right of way – but the pictograms are not binding.” In essence it means that walkers and bikers are allowed on both paths and are expected to be courteous of one another. But there is also a sign that says “Radfahrer nehmt Rücksicht auf Fußganger” which means that bikers need to be considerate of walkers.

Peter Kießling of the Parks Department says he is a biker himself and has been pestered by other bikers for not being fast enough. “There is enormous aggression out there,” he adds. “There are those kind of people that call for more rules, and those that pay less and less attention to the rules – both groups are increasing in numbers,” he says.

Reiß says that being considerate is a matter of upbringing. When asked what can be done, he advises people to pay attention and keep themselves safe. But walkers should not hesitate to take as much space as they need on the walkway because it is a path where walkers have priority.

(Oriiginal text: Tina Stommel; Translation: ckloep)

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