I’ve always loved riding a bicycle, ever since I was a kid, but there were several years after university where I didn’t regularly ride. Mostly it’s because I lived in big cities (London and then Sydney) that aren’t super conducive to cycling. I eventually got a bike in Sydney and even commuted for a while, but honestly, it never felt very fun or safe there. In fact, at times the attitude towards cyclists felt downright hostile. As the Wikipedia page for “Cycling in Sydney” states,

Cycling in Australia has, until recently, been a minority interest sport, and hostility on the road is also common. One Danish cyclist, Thomas Andersen, who had cycled around the world for four years, singled out Sydney in 2014 as being the worst city he had visited for cyclists.

Not only are Australian drivers hostile, but separated cycleways are few and far between. Sydney is also pretty hilly, and in the summer even a short ride will get you sweaty. There is also a mandatory helmet law, which puts off a lot of casual riders. As a result, the percentage of trips in Sydney that are made by bicycle is less than 2%.

Guess what? In Munich it’s closer to 20%.

Cycling in Munich

In Munich, lots of people ride bikes. I’ve seen old people, business people, parents towing kids and dogs in trailers, delivery people, all sorts. Sometimes they’re in lycra and helmets kitted out like serious athletes, but most of the time they’re just normal folks going about their day. (This photo and others are screengrabs from a video I filmed of a ride through Munich today.)

Rodd's bike

We sold our bikes in Sydney before we left, mostly because we weren’t sure whether we’d have appropriate storage for them in our Munich apartment. Once we were settled here, I started looking on FB Marketplace and Ebay for bikes. Around the same time, we had a presentation at work from the folks at Swapfiets. This is a Dutch company that offers fixed price rental for bikes, and they take care of all the maintenance for you. We decided to give it a try, reasoning that we could always cancel if we decided cycling here wasn’t going to work. Swapfiets offer a few different types of bikes in Munich, including a cruiser-style (with no gears) and a luxury “e-bike” (with an electric motor). We went with the middle option – 7-speed hub gear commuter bikes with dynamo-powered front and back lights. All of their bikes have a distinctive blue front tire as well as both a chain and tire lock for security. (While this is an unsolicited endorsement, if you want to sign up and use my referral code “KRISTINE77165” we’ll both get a a €7.50 discount!)

I’ve been experimenting with recording some of my rides. I don’t have a GoPro or anything; I’m just using my iPhone with a handlebar mount that I bought. This was a ride I filmed last week going around the Theriesenwiese and Bavaria Park. It’s bumpy and rough, but you get the idea. (I’ve sped it up; I’m not a very fast rider!) The remarkable thing is that from our house – which again, is really close to the city center – you can ride quite a while without ever having to go on a main road. You can just as easily get to Westpark, which is a massive park with beer gardens, playing fields, and picnic spots.

However, sometimes you want to ride into more trafficked areas. I rode into the city today to visit a special bakery and pick up some Christmas treats. It was about 3.5km (2 miles) each way. I filmed my ride, and I’ve grabbed a few screenshots to show you some of the cycling infrastructure I encountered. (Apologies for the blur!)

Bike ramp

Our neighbourhood is directly next to the Theriesenwiese, the massive open showgrounds where the Oktoberfest happens each year. There’s a big, heavily trafficked ring road around it full of cars, but across the middle there are paved areas that you can ride across. To get to it, rather than crossing the road I can go down a ramp with stairs and zip through a tunnel straight on the Wiese. Much faster and safer! If you watch that little video above, you can see me go down the ramp and across the Wiese…


On the other side of the Wiese, there are some quiet residential side streets. This one is labelled “Fahrradstraße” (bicycle street), which means motor vehicles are limited to 30 km/h (19 mph) and cyclists are allowed to use the full width of the road.


Most of the main roads in Munich have separated cycleways alongside them. This is the one that runs along Lindwurmstraße all the way up to Sendlinger Tor. In most cases there’s one on each side of the road, so you ride in the direction of traffic. As you can see, while the cycleway is completely separated from the traffic, there’s no real barrier between the pedestrian area. It’s literally just, like, a difference in the paving. Most pedestrians seem quite conscientious of cyclists though, and it’s become quite natural to me when walking to look out for bikes. The cycleways vary in width, and sometimes there’s not a lot of room for overtaking so faster riders will occasionally swing onto the pedestrian part to pass. I am not a fast rider, and I am content to pootle along in the cycleway watching for pedestrians and knowing I’m not going to get flattened by a truck.

Of course, there are still places where you have to cross main roads. At Sendlinger Tor there is a major intersection where Lindwurmstraße runs into Sonnenstraße, and it’s a very busy wide street with the added complication of Strassenbahn (tram) tracks. There the separated cycleway turns into a dedicated bicycle lane on the road, complete with its own traffic light! I was a little confused about how to turn left the first time I hit this intersection until I realised they use the same trick as Melbourne – hook turns! As a cyclist, you ride straight across the road and there is a dedicated spot for you to turn to the left and wait for the signal to continue onwards.

Non-separated cycleway

Of course, it’s not all sunshine and rainbows. There is a small bit – only about 100m – along Sonnenstraße where there is construction blocking the bike path, so you’re forced to ride alongside traffic. Thankfully, as soon as you get around the construction there is a ramp that takes you back up onto the separated cycleway.

Cafe Kreuzkamm

Oh hey, look, I made it to the bakery!

Waiting at a light

The return trip on the way home is much the same, albeit on the other side of the road. I’m pleased to see that for the most part, German cyclists follow the rules of the road and don’t run red lights and such. A few do, but not nearly as bad as I’ve seen back in Australia.

For some reason, the first part of the return cycleway on Lindwurmstraße is on the road. Presumably it’s because there is a park on the right, and the footpath isn’t wide enough? At any rate, there’s only a short stretch before the cycleway separates again. And then it’s an easy ride back to the Theriesenwiese.


One last thing – a few months back, the city turned part of the Wiese into a “Fahrrad-Übungsplatz” (bicycle practice area). They painted lines and lanes and cars and traffic lights on some of the concrete areas, and anyone can go and use them to practice their cycling skills. How cute is that?

So that’s cycling in Munich. It’s amazing what a difference some infrastructure makes! More people cycle, which makes more pedestrians and drivers aware, which makes it safer, which means more people cycle! It does crack me up though how negative the  “cycling in Munich” Wikipedia page sounds. I don’t think the people who wrote it understand how good they have it! As I said to the Snook, unless we move to Copenhagen, this is probably the best it’s ever gonna get for us in terms of cycling. That said, it’s supposed to snow tomorrow… so I guess we’ll see how that affects things! 🚴‍♂️❄️