Reflections From A Wittenberg Coffee Shop-Life-Style: Getting Around In Germany

One of the biggest changes for me in Germany is to live life without a car.  Like most Americans, I feel totally dependent upon a car, but, here, I don’t even think about it.  In fact, I am really happy to not need a car.  Yes, I am saying this in the summer which is a much nicer reality.


Traveling by foot in Germany

My German mode of transportation is by foot, by bike, by train, and, occasionally by bus.  I started this thought on a morning when traveling to Berlin while traveling at approximately 160 miles per hour from Wittenberg to Berlin on the Inter City Express (ICE) train.  I was on the train and it was wonderful.  I love German trains.  They are clean and on time.  Seats are comfortable and the views are very nice.  It will take 40 minutes to travel to Berlin.  In a car, 90 minutes.  The train is full.


Trains are comfortable.

The trains are electric and produce no pollution.  I am told that thirty per cent of the electricity in this country is produced from wind and solar sources.  So, with a full train and fewer cars, Germany is reaching amazing goals for clean air.

I really do not need a car in Germany.  Pedestrians have sidewalks, bike lanes are provided, buses and trains are plentiful and they run efficiently. I have learned that by wearing a rain coat I don’t mind riding the bike, or walking, in the rain.  Now, a Minnesota winter would be different, that is true, but it could be done.

If one does drive, the roads and bridges are in excellent condition and are well maintained.  Traffic does bottle up, though, as more and more Germans turn to the automobile rather than public transportation.

Bike trails are plentiful in the countryside and bike paths are clearly marked throughout the cities and villages.  If I wanted to, and I do someday, I could ride my bike from Wittenberg to Prague on the Elbe Bike Trail.

Getting around in Wittenberg has been no problem at all.  Wittenberg has approximately 50,000 residents so all areas are accessible by bike.  There are a lot of bikers in Wittenberg.  Berlin also has a lot of bikers.  It feels like I am in Minneapolis with all the bikers out and about.

Somedays I just park the bike and walk.  It feels good to get out and walk.  I feel like I get to see more by using “foot power.”  I also find it much easier to meet and greet people as I walk.  And, because we are here to serve English speakers, I find it is much easier to hear people speaking English when I walk than when I ride my bike.


Wittenberg bus

So, I have begun to think about how I can reduce my carbon footprint when I go home.  I live in St. Anthony Village which has a sustainability goal that all things are accessible by walking.  As I think about it, everything that I need is within walking distance of my house.  The challenge will be to schedule my time so that I am not always late (do I believe in miracles or what) and to plan my routes so that I can go by foot, bike and bus.  I want to overcome certain laziness by being more thoughtful.  I know I have to have a car, but, my goal is to drastically reduce how much I use.

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Love traveling by bike.

My use of walking, biking and public transportation will more than offset the fuel it took to fly here.  Other goals for when I get home include exploring solar power for my house (again, used extensively in Germany) and other ways to preserve the environment.  It is a matter of stewardship.

More to come….

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