Berlin: How to rent a bike, Cheapo-style

Posted in: Berlin Planning

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Biking in Berlin
Staying in the bike lane. Photo: Tulenheimo

Raeder (bikes) and Berlin go together like sausage and beer. Surveys reveal there are more than 400 bikes per 1,000 Berlin residents, meaning that almost half of the city’s residents own a bike.

Luckily, visitors don’t have to feel left out of the biking fun: Bike rentals are cheap and easy to find. And tooling around by Rad won’t just make you look and feel like a local—it will also enable you to access sights that are otherwise impossible to visit by foot or too time consuming to visit via public transportation.

Before burning rubber, read this little guide to find out where to find a bike, how to ride like a local, and which bike paths to seek out.

Step One: Rent Wheels

Many hotels and hostels will arrange bike rentals for you. But if they don’t, both Fat Tire Bike Rentals (€12/day) and fahrradstation (€15-20/day) boast several locations throughout the city. If you have time to hunt for cheaper prices (you can find bikes for as low as €8/day), scour neighborhoods like Prenzlauer Berg, Friedrichshain, and Kreuzberg for upstart rental spots.

Step Two: Follow the Rules!

Since most Berliners use their bikes as a form of transportation and are sticklers about the rules, you should brush up on a few Regeln before pedaling. You’ll see plenty of bikers blowing through red lights, weaving through traffic, and speeding past pedestrians on a sidewalk. Don’t follow their example! They give bikers a bad name—and they are asking for a ticket.

If there is a bike lane, use it. (But first make sure that you’re riding in the correct direction; not all paths are two-way.) If there isn’t a bike lane, ride on the street—not the sidewalk. Stop at stop signs, stop lights, and never, ever assume that a car driver sees you coming.

Finally–don’t bike while drunk. It’s illegal. (That is, of course, unless you rent the Bier Bike.)

You are free to bring your bike with you onto the U-bahn (subway) and S-bahn (commuter train)—as long as you use designated compartments (look for the bike sign on the door). Baby carriages and wheelchairs have priority.

Step Three: Hit the paths

Berlin boasts 620 kilometers (385 miles) of bike paths. We’ve highlighted two of our favorites below, but the city government’s English-language biking page offers a complete overview of Berlin’s biking opportunities.

Path: Follow the Wall

The Berlin Mauerweg is a well-marked route that follows the contours of the 12-kilometer-long Berlin Wall. Though the actual divider is long gone, taking this scenic, off-the-beaten-path trail that passes through often-overlooked districts is the only way to get a true sense of the Wall’s size and scope.

For inspiration beforehand, rent the documentaries “Cycling the Frame” and “The Invisible Frame”. They feature the actress Tilda Swinton biking the Wall in 1988 and 2009 respectively.

Path: Take a Dip

Visiting the peaceful and historic Wannsee, a posh lake district in far-western Berlin, by public transportation is time consuming. After taking the S-bahn to the Wannsee station, you have to walk (a lot) or rely on buses to see the lake’s must-see sights: a historic public beach, the gripping Haus am Wannsee-Konfernz, and the romantic, flower-filled Pfaueninsel (“Peacock Island”). Take a bike along with you or rent a bike at the lake, then pedal from one sight to the next at your leisure. Don’t forget your bathing suit!

About the author

Susan Buzzelli

About the author: A Pittsburgh native, Susan Buzzelli has been a sworn Germanophile since she spent a high school summer as an exchange student in Buxtehude. After stints in Dresden, Munich, and Hamburg she settled (possibly for good) in Europe’s most dynamic city: Berlin. When she isn't exploring Berlin, she's traveling throughout Germany (with an occasional hop over the border). Her comprehensive guidebook to Germany, Zeitguide Germany, will be published soon. Look for updates on her website, www.susanbuzzelli.com.

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