Daria recently posted a comment on my announcement to add a blog, written in English, to this site. She was happy about being able to read it. That’s how I discovered her Italian blog called Berlino in Bicicletta. We connected on Facebook, and now she is the first in a series of portraits of people who ride their bikes in Berlin. This interview was done by email. Grazie mille for your answers, Daria!
What brought you to Berlin?
I literally ran away from Italy and its unbearable conditions of life. Not that you cannot survive there but a more quiet lifestyle was on the top of my priorities‘ list. So, as soon as I finished my degree I decided to try to study my PhD abroad. Then, one of the luckiest things of my life happened: I wound up in Berlin.
What kind of bike do you ride?
I have an old racing bike, a Giant Peloton CroMoly, directly from the ‘90s.
What is your dream bike?
I am totally fine with the one I have now, even though, sometimes, I wake up and look at the bike in front of my bed and hope it has been transformed, overnight, into a Bianchi Eros vintage road bike.
That moment when you ride one of the many bridges crossing the Spree…
What do you like most about riding in Berlin?
I am mostly an urban cyclist so I like the fact that you can reach almost any place you need within one hour and you can do it with total freedom.
Moreover, romantically speaking, I love that moment when you ride on one of the many bridges crossing the Spree, in summer, and you have to stop to watch astounding sunsets. Don’t you?
In my hometown it is almost impossible to ride
How does riding in Berlin compare to your hometown or other places you’ve lived in?
In my hometown it is almost impossible to ride a bike, since is mostly made up of hills and I think not even one cycling path exists in the whole city area. But I have lived seven years in Bologna which is much more bike friendly, compared to other cities in Italy, and I used to cycle there for commuting. The problem is that almost nobody feels to have to respect common rules and this creates lot of problems. Almost everybody rides on the sidewalk, also because bike lanes are not so common as here in Berlin, or does not use lights at night.
Lastly, a very big problem in Bologna are the thieves and the black market. But I know that more recently, after I left the city, the administrators are trying to do something against that. Here those things are less present making the cycling experience more relaxing and safe.
Where is your bike parked most frequently?
At home. I keep it in my living (and only) room. When I am at work it is chained to a road sign in front of my workplace.
What are your favorite clothes to bike in?
I usually wear my normal everyday clothes.
What is your favorite bag/basket/way to transport your belongings by bike?
I use a small trekking backpack. No basket because I prefer to keep my bike clear.
Good vibes, food, coffee and an Italian bookshop
What is your favorite spot to fill up on fuel – coffee, drinks, food, snacks?
Until last spring I did not have a fav spot to fill up, so I was just stopping and step in randomly in the first bar as soon as I was running out of energy. Recently, anyway, some friends started to work on renovating a Café in Kreuzkoelln, so I do believe this will be my place, as soon as the warm season will be back. Good vibes, food, coffee and an Italian bookshop, in a lovely area close to the canal and where I can also refill, both my soul and brain, with my other pastime (over cycling): creative writing.
I love to just ride around the city
What is your favorite route for a leisurely ride?
I love to just ride around the city and pass by the Kreuzberg canal, or in Tiergarten. In summer I also love to go to lakes and relax with a bath, after cycling.
Which route or area in Berlin do you avoid crossing by bike & why?
I don’t like to cycle on the route that skirts the U1 bridge between Gleisdreieck and Kottbusser Tor. I find it really dangerous. I recently heard about the project Radbahn, which proposes to turn the path running under that U-Bahn line bridge into a bike lane: this I would really appreciate.
Which bike shop do you recommend for repairs?
I usually go to a shop which is in my area. A little bit expensive but they are fast and meticulous: Velophil.
Your favorite bike buddy?
Beyond my helmet? All my friends are welcome and when he visits, my father, too. But not always. Sometimes, I just like to be on my own, with wind on my face. And go faster.
Which other means of transport do you use to get around?
Public means of transport (U-Bahn, S-Bahn and bus).