Friday, February 4, 2011
The Bike Rental
We had taken a "Yellow Tram Tour" of the center of this fine city and looking out the tram windows I spotted several kiosks of bikes labelled "City Bike" and thought to myself that this may be the answer I was looking for. I had to wait a couple of days for when I was exploring the city on mine own to be able to check out these "City Bikes".
Upon approaching the kiosk, it is a simple matter of registering using a credit card and then choosing the bike you wish to ride and when prompted, type in the number of the bike and remove it from where it is locked to the stationary rack.
One of the great things about this system is that you can return the bike to any "City Bike" kiosk throughout the city and as an extra bonus - if you return the bike within an hour it is free of charge! All you have to do is wait 15 minutes and you reregister and take a bike from the rack for another hour free! My kind of rental.
Never having visited a European city before, I was hesitant to get right into traffic and ride. And it turns out that my worries were needless in that Vienna has a whole system of paved, well marked bike routes. And as I mentioned in my previous blog, there are even traffic lights just for cyclists.
On the Yellow Tram tour I noticed a large park with a golden statue of Strauss at its center called Stadtpark and that is where I decided I could best ride around and not have to worry too much about pedestrians or traffic. Being the off season for tourism, the park was bare of crowds and I only saw the odd couple strolling about its grounds. A few people had gathered to take photos of the Strauss monument but otherwise I had the whole park to myself.
Once I got comfortable on the bike (a fixie), I managed to ride the whole park, crossing bridges and winding through narrow paths. I guess I could have taken a picture of the Strauss statue but quite honestly I was having enough of a job positioning my camera on any horizontal surface, setting the self timer, running to the bike, hopping on and then hoping to cross my carefully composed frame at just the right moment when the camera's timer went off. It was cold enough to kill the batteries and luckily I had carried some extra AA's in my MEC packsack otherwise my attempt at capturing myself renting and riding a bike in Vienna would have been thwarted.
Being the cheap bugger that I am, I dutifully returned the bike before the one hour period was up and I'm still wondering a week later if I stowed the bike properly otherwise when I open my Mastercard statement in the near future I may find a 600 Euro charge for not having returned the bike at all (that's like 900 beans). Although Vienna is not noted for its crime, I couldn't help but wonder if unscrupulous persons tug on each bike in hopes of finding one that isn't properly locked in and then making off with the free two wheel conveyance.