How to do a folding bike – The world’s first folding bike etiquette guide for mobile togetherness
Folding bikes are no longer a big secret. They guarantee mobility in the urban space. However: How should folding bike users actually behave? Find out with the world’s first book of folding bike etiquette for considerate, mobile togetherness!
1. Combined mobility: On public transport
On public transport, a folding bike counts as an item of luggage. Often, it’s enough for the bike to be “not in riding condition” for an extra ticket to be required. Before getting on, the bike should be folded and lifted onto the means of transport in question.
Tip: The staff always have the final say. The key maxim: Know the conditions of transport. Avoid a discussion. In nine out of ten cases, there is no problem taking the bike with you. Where there is a bottleneck in capacity, the prudent cyclist uses his mobility advantage and gets on his bike. Priority is given to passengers without a folding bike, particularly any with a wheelchair, walking assistance or a pram.
2. Combined Mobility: Intercity public transport by train
Taking a folding bike on the ICE is more challenging. The bike must take up the “space of a case”, but does not have to be packed up. It is always helpful to inform the bike or luggage car team in advance. The head-high luggage compartments are ideal for storage. Depending on the type of train, the bike can also fit in the overhead luggage rack. Please note the direction of braking! Preferably, you can push your bike quite conveniently into the gap between the back to back seats. The gap between the glass sliding door and the first row of seats in the ICE open carriage is ideal, but please note that the doors on the compartment side move in without a guard, and may collide with the bike. Luggage can be placed on the folding bike. For people travelling on their own, the single seats at the end of the carriage are very practical. You can park your bike beside or behind one of these. Stares from other passengers and staff guaranteed! There’s a little less sympathy if you juggle your folding bike and all your luggage through the gangway of a moving intercity train.
Tip: Caution – potential for conflict! Note the on-board services and check that your bike will not fall over or roll out when the train accelerates or stops. During the hectic search for a seat, you should not leave your bike in the gangway, and always keep an eye on your bike when travelling inter-city. You should always consider: With the growing popularity of folding bikes, the risk of theft is also growing – a mini cable lock can help you relax.
Combined Mobility: On a long distance bus
Before your journey, store the bike in a non see-through bag. On very busy buses, hand your luggage in as one of the last passengers, or stow it away yourself. This means your bike will be right at the top of the luggage compartment and will not be crushed. If the bus and the luggage compartment are more empty, it is useful to secure your “luggage” against sliding around in the compartment with luggage straps.
Tip: When it comes to taking your folding bike on a long-distance bus, it’s a lottery. The transport conditions of the various companies and countries differ widely. The best thing to do is always have the magic amount of around 20 Euro in local currency (or at least another “hard currency” like USD) in cash, and buy a bike ticket if necessary. It’s not worth discussing the issue with the staff.
3. Intermodal on a flight: A folding bike on a plane
Folding bikes which are around 55 x 40 x 23 centimetres when packed, and weigh less than eight kilogrammes, are welcome as hand luggage. At least, that applies for the major airlines – on budget airlines, the rules can be more restrictive. It’s more realistic to take your folding bike as check-in baggage. It doesn’t matter whether you go for a high-quality folding bike bag or a simple box. Every airline has its own rules – do your research beforehand. You’ll get clear answers most quickly from the service hotline – but that takes patience! Don’t panic if your luggage doesn’t turn up on the luggage belt on arrival. Your bike may be waiting for you at oversize baggage at your destination airport – even if you handed it in as standard baggage. “Folding your bike and cycling to and from the airport is a real pleasure” says Joachim Leffler from Fahrer Berlin, who has also written about the manufacture of folding bike equipment. However: “Often, you can only get to major airports via a few diversions. If it doesn’t work, you can just jump into a shuttle bus or taxi for the last few metres.”
Tip: Protect your bike by folding in the pedals, taking off the saddle, pad your bike well and leave the air in the tyres. One established airline recommends wrapping your luggage in film. Look after your own stress levels: Leave enough time for check-in. Negotiations with ground staff happen sometimes – changing desk works wonders sometimes! Different strokes… Internal flights in the USA allow for bigger hand luggage. This makes it easier to bring your bike into the cabin.
4. Flexible working: Office and business meetings
“The best current advice to protect against vandalism, weather damage and theft is not to let your bike out of your sight” says Henning Voss from Brompton Deutschland. “The advantage of a folding bike is that it goes everywhere with you. In the office, you can put it under your desk. At an external meeting, you can hand it in at reception or the cloakroom. A folding bike is also a great ice-breaker: If you can fold it up quickly and tidily, it’s a really handy conversation opener. And the first point of a friendly relationship.”
Tip: If you regularly park your bike under your office desk, then a mat is a useful parking area, particularly at wetter times of the year. Shake it out regularly – that will keep the cleaning staff happy.
5. Discreet and sociable: Daily routes
Your folding bike fits into your everyday life of aims and tasks, quickly and conveniently. When you’re shopping, it “sits” in your trolley instead of, or with, your child. Security guards are happy to accept your bike gear at the entrance. In manageable stores, pharmacies or the bank, park it within sight at the entrance. At your doctor’s surgery, your bike can wait in the cloakroom. When you’re out and about after work, your bike can find a home under the table. Before you go into the bar, fold your bike – try to make eye contact with the staff and let them give you the ok.
Tip: Don’t forget your valuables attached to the frame of your bike, such as drinking bottles or frame bags.
6. Restaurants, cinemas and events: It’s all good!
In a cinema, just park your bike right by the screen – just ask the staff at the entrance. The emergency escape routes, be kept clear. In a theatre, a folding bike is regarded as an item of luggage, free or for a fee, with or without its own label, that’s up to the staff. Ideally, you should hand in your bike at the cloakroom staff door – so it doesn’t have to be hauled over the counter.
Tip: Cloakrooms don’t accept liability. Hand in your coat, bike and helmet at the same time – that cuts down the time and effort needed.
Tip: When you go to an event, note what kind of event it is! If it’s a bike meet, you can be sure there will be other folding bikes there. This can lead to bottlenecks and/or mix ups.
7. Overnight stays with your folding bike: Out and about on business or pleasure?
Your folding bike guarantees your mobility. It can go everywhere with you as a free overnight guest. When you check in, hotels offer use of their luggage room as a temporary parking area. If you feel that’s a little unsafe, bring your bike with you into your room. The same applies for apartments and B&B’s. Did you know? The idea for the “Birdy“, the fully-sprung folding bike from Riese & Müller, came to the inventors and managing directors Markus Riese and Heiko Müller on a joint trip. Anywhere that’s it little complicated being out and about with a normal bike, the folding bike reveals its full potential!
Tip: When in Rome… It is considerate to pay attention to regional customs. For example, in Japan, a bike is a “dirty object”. It has no place in public buildings, and should be folded and put in a bag without exception, before entering train stations, hotels, or restaurants.
8. Electric folder
The electrification of the bike is the latest thing, and naturally, there are also folding bikes with a motor. The book of folding bike etiquette also applies here. “Pedelecs up to 25 km/h count as bicycles with regard to traffic laws, and as such they can be brought into public areas” says Anja Knaus from Flyer, E-Bike Pro from Switzerland. The only restriction relates to planes: If you want to travel by plane with your e-bike, you have to leave the battery at home, and source another one at your destination.
Source text: Pressedienst-Fahrrad
Would you like to find out more about this? The folding bike in Urban Independence Magazine
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