A few more steps

I recently became a little bit more German.

Me: Right, that’s it. We’re clearing out the living room. I don’t mind you having all the wires, cables, batteries, old phones, place mats, last year’s birthday cards, post from 2012… I just don’t want to have to look at it every evening.

Manfredas: You’re right. 

Me: I know. I’ve bought three “decorative” storage boxes. White is for documents, black is for any technical stuff, grey is for anything in between. 

Manfredas: You scare me. 

Me: I know. LET’S DO THIS! 

Ta dah!

And that’s not even the half of it. Everyone knows that the Germans love insurance – Manfredas isn’t even sure how many different types of policies he has. While I’m not quite in that league, I have taken out two more forms of insurance – bicycle and (say it with me) Haftpflichtversicherung.

You see, I bought a new bike not so long ago and, looking at it in comparison to the shitheaps most people in Berlin ride around on, I felt that maybe my beautiful Tecnobike needed a little extra protection.

I heart my Tecnobike.

Given that there were more than 34,000 reported bicycle thefts in Berlin last year, you’d think more people would have insurance. Not so. Having asked Manfredas, friends and students for tips, in the end, I had to resort to Mr. Google – and even that wasn’t easy. I eventually found the brilliantly-named Bike Ass and, for the bargain price of just €46.41 per year, Tecnobike can sleep easy at night, even if she is chained up in the basement.

Manfredas: You should also get Haftpflichtversicherung.

Me: Sounds like some kind of disease. 

Manfredas: (Sigh) No, it’s personal liability insurance. If you do damage to someone or something, it covers you. 

Me: Nah, I don’t really think I need it. 

Manfredas: Well, nobody takes out home insurance believing there’s going to be a fire, do they?

Me: No, I guess not. How much is it? 

I went with AXA and now, for a yearly pittance, I can do €50,000,000 euro’s worth of damage. Woop!

A couple of months later, I’m very happy that I have both forms of insurance. While I haven’t damaged anyone or anything (yet), the potential for this happening in Berlin seems rather high.

Example: “OK, Tecnobike, I’m going to have to leave you here for a couple of hours while I go work. But look, you’ve got loads of room and plenty of bikey company. You’ll be just fine. I’ll miss you…” 

Spacious.

You come back a while later and this has happened.

Tecnobike! Where are you!?

You might be thinking “What kind of idiot would park their car there?” or, more pressingly, “What IS that??” but if I damage either the car or THE THING trying to get out of there, it’s on me. I was tempted to do a couple of grands’ worth of damage just to prove a point, but I’m trying to be a responsible cyclist…

Interestingly, in Berlin, this is probably the most dangerous thing you can be. If you follow the rules, act like a normal human being, and show some consideration for other people using the roads and cycle lanes, chances are you’ll be the one taken out. Naturally, me being me, I’ve learned this the hard way.

So, there I was, pootling my way home on a beautiful sunny afternoon. I was heading for Karl-Marx-Allee, in the cycle lane between the lane of cars turning right and the lane going straight ahead, like me. I had started slowing down as there was a red light up ahead.

BAM. Out of nowhere, another cyclist tried to overtake me at speed (why I don’t know, as the light was red anyway), clipped Tecnobike and somehow my left leg and arm ended up crushed between the two bikes and a taxi. Miraculously, I managed to stay upright, which is good; I’ve found that roaring “ARSCHLOCH!” at someone from the ground isn’t nearly as effective.

Me: ARSCHLOCH!

Arsch mit Ohren: Me?!

Me: Yes, you, you @^$#^%^%#%$#$@#%%$^^&^&^%. You could have killed me!

Arsch mit Ohren: Uh, sorry.

We somehow managed to disentangle the two bikes and I limped to the pavement, the Arsch following me. The taxi driver had since driven off, satisfied that we hadn’t damaged his car. Eye roll.

Arsch mit Ohren: Oh, you’re bleeding. Would you like a tissue? 

Me: I’ve got my own damn tissues.

Arsch mit Ohren: You’re shaking. I’m sorry, I don’t have any water. 

Me: I’ve got my OWN DAMN WATER!

Arsch mit Ohren: Would you like to go for a coffee or something? You’re probably in shock.

Me: Are you insane?

Arsch mit Ohren: Or I could accompany you home? Make sure you’re OK? 

Me: I was just fine ’til you ploughed into me. I think I’ll be safer by myself, thank you very much. 

I finally got rid of him and, after calming down a little, inspecting Tecnobike (unharmed, thankfully), made it the rest of the way home unscathed. I was scathed enough as it was.

I watched with interest over the next few days as various parts of my body swelled up and turned different colours, my main regret being that I hadn’t turned back and run that asshole over in return. I am insured, after all…

Last weekend, there was a demonstration for safer conditions for cyclists in Berlin. While there is definitely room for improvement, from what I’ve seen, these people’s time would have been better spent learning some manners and oh, maybe how to ride a bicycle.

Berlin Demonstration von Fahradfahrern
Cycling for safety – while on your mobile. Genius. (Source: Deutsche Welle)

In the few months I’ve been with Tecnobike, I’ve seen people cycling while looking at their mobile phones, a guy cycling while reading a book, cyclists with a beer in one hand and a fag in the other, hands-free cycling, one idiot with his feet up on the handlebars, people sailing through red lights, not indicating which way they’re turning… and, of course, no lights.

Since the police and Ordnungsamt are somehow blind to all of this, Manfredas and I have started our own little “Balkonordnungsamt”. This involves yelling “Licht an du Vogel!” at the morons down below. However, as we’re on the sixth floor, it’s more likely that only our neighbours above and below can hear us and someone will call the Ordnungsamt on us.

I wonder if there’s insurance against that…

 

 

 

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24 thoughts on “A few more steps”

    1. I’m sure he didn’t set out to have an accident but if you behave in such a stupid, reckless way, that’s what’s going to happen. So forgive me for not being so forgiving – I was the one doing everything right and ended up being the one who got hurt. Typical, right?! Must try and find Jesus again… 😉

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  1. You don’t become a little bit more German if you don’t wear a helmet. You have to wear a proper helmet when you ride a bike and you are a child or you are over 30.
    Germans love helmets.
    In the older days, Germans adore this kind of headgears especially made of blue- gray steel. After two lost wars this material has forfeit his attraction, now colourful plastic cover the heads of the German Neo- Spiesser.
    http://www.directupload.net/file/d/5222/ttc8krjf_jpg.htm

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  2. Oh, my. I feel so disillusioned. I thought Berlin would be exceptionally civilized in respect to bicycling. Sounds like cyclists there are just as reckless as they are here. Be careful out there. Christ, there’s only so much you can do to protect yourself when you’re surrounded by … oh, what was it that you called the guy who ran into you? That word …but plural 😏

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Arschlöcher 😉 Yeah, I’ve got the helmet, great brakes, bell, am sensible… Hoping there will be fewer people on bikes now that the weather has cooled down a bit – now the main problem is Arschlöcher walking along in the cycle lanes 😉 Can’t win! There’s talk of having 2 metre wide cycle lanes, like Autobahns for bicycles – that would be amazing but I wonder if they’ll cut through all the German red tape in my lifetime 😉

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      1. We limit ourselves to cycling on a dedicated bike trail because street cycling is so dangerous. Still, the bike trail can be unnerving because of the people who like to race (you know them, they wear skintight colorful gear) and the pedestrians who like to walk two or three abreast (the trail is not that wide). I’ll have to learn to pronounce Arschlöcher so I can call out people without them knowing what I’m saying 😉

        Liked by 1 person

  3. I can’t believe you only just got Haftpflichtversicherung! The lady at Sparkasse scared me into getting that on my second day in Berlin 😂 Anyway – glad you and your lovely bike survived the bike crash!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Same! She delivered me safely to all of my destinations yesterday and today so long may that continue! Until it gets cold and I go back to buying a monthly pass – cos I’m a Warmduscher 😉
      Hmm, I don’t remember Sparkasse trying to scare me into Haftpflichtversicherung – it was over 4 years ago when I opened my account there though so it’s possible! I just have Manfredas to scare me 😉

      Liked by 1 person

    1. I think some places are better than others! Berlin has lots of plans to improve cycling conditions, but as usual, is mired in bureaucracy. And I’ve seen people cycle right past the police while breaking 2 or 3 laws at a time so I think the city also needs to get its shit together on that front!

      Liked by 1 person

    1. Ha, happy to be of help! Yeah, I was a bit banged up but all better now 🙂 It was a few weeks ago. €64.18 with AXA which I think is perfectly reasonable for a year if you don’t have an insurance company yet!

      How many different kinds of insurance do you have? Was it common in Spain? I read that bike helmets are compulsory in Spain unless you’re going uphill – not really sure I get that logic 😉

      Liked by 1 person

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