Guest Post: Kelly Roche’s impressions on Frankfurt and Wiesbaden Transportation

Kelly's guest blog for the Urban Commuter
Kelly’s guest blog for the Urban Commuter

Two years ago, I was interviewed by Ottawa Sun reporter Kelly Roche at the opening of the Laurier bike lane. At that time, the Ottawa Sun was fairly hostile towards cyclists,  (but not Kelly) complaining about the cost of bike infrastructure for ‘a handful of cyclists‘ (760,000 bike trips have been counted since the opening at the Metcalfe intersection counters alone). The total numbers are even higher as not everyone passes these particular counters.

Not much of a wedge issue

Over the last two years, The Ottawa Sun’s attitude appears to have changed. Of course, we know that newspapers like so called ‘wedge’ issues as that sells newspapers and as an advocacy group, you just play along. Cycling in Ottawa is becoming less and less of a wedge issue, as more and more people take the bike. The recent vote to change Main street to a ‘complete street’ showed no out-pour of anger from the public, In fact, none from the public spoke against it at Transportation Committee. Kelly and Jon Willing have been much more positive towards cycling, recognising that cycling is a normal way of getting around for thousands of Ottawa residents. Why alienate your potential readers? Jon recently tweeted he was actually cycles between assignments.

Recently, Kelly went to Frankfurt (private trip) and upon her return I asked if she’d like to write a guest column for the Urban Commuter. So here it is, the world premiere of Kelly on Ottawa’s Bike Blog:  

Two wheels in a major international airport

An airline employee cycling past the airport gate in Frankfurt catches my eye as I happen to glance up from a paperback memoir. A triple-take ensues. He seems comfortable, natural even, maneuvering between travelers. He moves against the grain. No one flinches. Two wheels in a major international airport? Everything we use has motors. It’s the North American way. Fitting, it feels, considering this whirlwind German jaunt is the first vacation I have taken without using an automobile. Their train system connects to the airport. How civilized and sophisticated. No cab driver to barrage with questions. No awkward moment asking the driver to stop smoking, or turn off the radio. No spending unnecessarily when a $3 ride will suffice. No one, though, is manning the information counter.

Sightseeing by train

Greeted by a ticket machine; a tad impersonal. With help from a few locals, purchasing a ticket and navigating the network is rather elementary. Most of my cash, in fact, is spent on transportation in the form of day passes.

Light rail in down town Frankfurt
Light rail (or street cars) in down town Frankfurt (photo Kelly Roche)

Sightseeing involves riding the train and hours of walking. The absence of obesity is noted. Making 15-to-20-minute-acquaintances on the train, they eagerly morph into tour guides. So much more authentic this way; taxi driver not missed. Exiting Wiesbaden station, bicycles are locked up everywhere.

Bikes at exit train station Wiesbaden
Bikes at exit train station Wiesbaden (photo Kelly Roche)

Even the street signs are gorgeous and spotless.

Signs to tourist information, train station, market and more.
Signs to tourist information, train station, market and more. (photo Kelly Roche)
Parking signs in Wiesbaden, showing the available number of parking spots in real time. No unnecessary driving around town in search of a spot.
Parking signs in Wiesbaden, showing the available number of parking spots in real time. No unnecessary driving around town in search of a spot. (photo Kelly Roche)

Sleek buses

Sleek bus in Wiesbaden (photo Kelly Roche)
Sleek bus in Wiesbaden (photo Kelly Roche)

The buses are sleek, modern, sexy — same descriptors for light rail in downtown Frankfurt. Available parking spaces are displayed, as are estimated arrival times for light rail. These are similar to the boards in the train station.

down town Frankfurt Train Sation (Hauptbahnhof) - (photo Kelly Roche)
down town Frankfurt Train Station (Hauptbahnhof) – (photo Kelly Roche)

I join herds of cattle, following pedestrians as I search for signs pointing out the direction of the Hauptbahnhof, or central station. Touring Frankfurt is the furthest thing from cumbersome. The train station is in walking distance from the bed & breakfast I’m occupying. I hear trains – and airplanes – all night.

Back home

Back at the gate, a cheeky Bostonian Air Canada agent amuses passengers as we near boarding time. Landing at YOW, I immediately hop into a cab, then drive home. Read more about Kelly on her website.

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