We bought bikes!
We went for a cross-over between a city bike and a mountain bike. I thought this was particularly necessary because of the weather here, but in the meantime I discovered it’s mostly necessary because of the roads!
Our ride home with our new bicycles was very adventurous. As cycling isn’t as common here as it is in Belgium (or in Flanders, I should say), there really isn’t any infrastructure for cycles anywhere. Turns out the cycling lanes I’d seen on the Strelka were rather exceptional! This isn’t such a big problem on small streets, where you can just drive at the side of the street next to the cars, but it’s really inconvenient on bigger roads.
First of all, it is very difficult to cross the road. Many crossroads of big roads are for cars only. There are some crossings especially for pedestrians, but as you can guess they mostly have stairs as they go underneath or across the road. This means you often have to take a ridiculous detour just to get to the other side of the street. (At least if you don’t want to risk your life by using the crossroads for cars.)
Secondly, the absence of cycling lanes means that, if you don’t want to be run over by a car, you need to ride on the sidewalk. Not only is this inconvenient for the pedestrians, but the sidewalks aren’t even comfortable for walking, let alone cycling.
On our way home, at a certain moment there were lamp posts in the middle of the sidewalk, which was so narrow that we couldn’t pass them with our bicycles. We noticed that above us, on top of some kind of hill, was another path, so we turned back and looked for an entrance to the path, for which of course we had to climb … stairs! They weren’t very high, though, and fortunately our bikes aren’t very heavy.
At another point on our trip (when we had finally succeeded in crossing the street) the sidewalk seemed to just come to an end. So we turned right, onto what looked like some kind of construction site and ended up in a parallel street. Luckily that street kept running parallel to the main road until we could find our way back to the sidewalk. 🙂
Anyway, for us spoiled Belgian cyclists this may all look very challenging but I’m sure it just takes some getting used to (and some figuring out of bike-friendly routes). In the meantime I’ve already done two other small cycling trips and each time I feel like I’m moving through traffic a bit more swiftly. In any case, I’m very happy with my bike and can’t wait for some more cycling adventures!