“Cycling is Good for Your Karma”
Maria is a passionate cyclist and a bikefex Guide. She prefers stylish city bikes, crossing the Alps on vacation on a mountain bike and dreams of bike highways.
Why are bicycles so important to you?
On one hand, riding a bike is a means to an end, to get anywhere around the city or from A to B, but it’s also an end in itself when I go mountain biking in my free time. Biking is 1. good for your own health, 2. good for the environment and 3. good for your Karma!
What do you like most about cycling?
Going down hill.
If I didn’t have a bike, then …?
…I would have to go buy one right away. Getting a bike was one of the first things that I did during my Erasmus stay in Spain. That came right after getting a room and registering at the university.
With the bike I’m faster than…?
… than other people in the city. Only superman is faster.
How many bikes do you have?
Currently, four: a Puch lady’s bike for short shopping trips in the city, an old hardtail for long city trips and two trail bikes, just for fun.
How often do you go cycling and how many kilometres do you cover on average?
On weekdays, I ride about 6 km every day, and then there are a few kilometres of mountain biking on the weekend.
What was the longest trip you did on your bike?
On vacation, for example, I rode on the street from Villach to Piran or the Transalp route with my mountain bike.
What’s the bike infrastructure like in your city?
Basically, I find the cycling infrastructure in Graz to be good, but it could still be expanded. The bike routes that are often interrupted or are mixed pedestrian-biking routes at sensitive traffic points are a disaster, in my opinion. I think pedestrians and cyclists should be separated. There is definitely a need for more covered parking areas in Graz where you can chain your bike, and where cargo bikes or bikes with trailers, baskets, etc. also have space. Service points with air pumps, hose automats and tools are also world-class. The one by the University of Technology has already helped me out of a jam quite a few times. There should be more of those throughout Graz.
What do you think of bike sharing?
It’s great! In Seville, I also had an annual pass for ‘sevici’. For getting around town or going out, the rental bike was much more convenient than using your own. At one edge of the city centre, I would return a rental bike at one station and, if I felt like it, I would borrow another bike at another station. Visitors and tourists could also get a weekly pass. I even picked up my friend at the airport by bike and we did all the sightseeing on two wheels.
Hot people on even hotter bikes – which one do you look at?
I usually just look at the bike; by the time I look at the people, they’re already gone. I’m irresistibly drawn to either stylish city cycles or suspension bikes.
What does the city of the future look like?
In my “bike-utopia”, there are bicycle highways – exclusively for cyclists, of course – which you can jet “straight” from one end of the city to another. And there is no bike theft.
What is needed to get more people excited about biking?
I think it would be necessary to get companies involved in offering their support – for example, by their making shower facilities available, introducing reward systems for certain mileages, or something like that. In exchange, the companies would have healthier employees and, after all, parking spaces for cars are in short supply wherever you look.
Image © Bikefex by Rene Sendlhofer-Schag
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