Of scooters and skateboards: Alternative forms of getting around

Berlin is a large city, sprawling over 890 square kilometers, with a population of over 3.5 million. It also happens to be a very bikeable city with 13% of all travel in Berlin conducted by bicycle.

However, for the photos below, I initially was not looking for cyclists, but more interested in the alternative crowd. Those who got around on other two, three, or multiple-wheeled contraptions.

These transportation methods are important because they are less destructive to the environment. Using no power asides from human muscle, these vehicles do not emit greenhouse gases responsible for climate change. 

Here is what I found:

Transporting children via bikes was also prominent.  Mom-vans and family sedans should step aside, as the bike is a top alternative choice to transporting children around Berlin.

An issue arises with cycling safety, however. In Berlin, while 13% of travel is done by bike, 30% of road accidents that end in injury involve cyclists.

Roland Huhn is the  legal officer of German Cyclist’s Federation (ADFC). It is a German non-profit committed to making traffic more cycling-friendly.

He stated that 71,420 cyclists were injured or killed in Germany in 2013. Of those, 9,219 were under the age of 15, and eight were killed from these accidents.

Many adults and children did not wear helmets in Berlin.

In fact, the German government has no law requiring the use of helmets. Sixty-nine percent of German children from ages 6-10 wear a helmet when riding. Yet only seven percent of Germans aged 17-30 do.

“This is a higher rate than in Sweden”, said Huhn in regards to the 69% of German children who wore helmets. “(Swedish) children are obliged by law to wear a helmet when cycling”.

When asked about the lack of helmet use, Huhn stated that the ADFC is “against a legal obligation to wear a helmet, both for adults and children”.

The German government is trying to change this. In May 2015, Germany’s Transportation Ministry began to roll out advertising to promote helmet use. Darth Vader, who always wears a helmet, fronts the campaign.

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Transporting a child on a bike is legal in Germany if the child is under seven, and is in a child seat or child trailer.

Of the eight children killed in cycling accidents in 2013, none were under the age of seven, said Huhn.  In the years 2007-2010, 90 children under the age of seven were killed in car accidents. That is around 23 children per year.

While bike safety for children needs to be addressed in Germany, these photos are significant. It does not matter if you’re single and ride a scooter to work. Or if you have young children who ride in a child seat on your bike, while your older children ride alongside with you.

Through these photos one can see that that people can get around town with a bike, or a scooter, or a skateboard.  Less cars on the road leads to less greenhouse emissions and air pollutants. Just one more step we can do to combat climate change.

Imagine: A father and his son bike to the train station.  Eyes not on the road, the father spends time with his child and reads to him on the train.

Transportation no longer needs to be about the destination. A bike ride (or skateboard ride, or a scooter ride) with friends or family fosters social interaction.

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