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I'm over 30 and have just started cycling in real traffic, my first experience, as I have only ever ridden as a child in parks and such. I live in a university town in the state of Baden-Württemberg in Germany. Unfortunately, I have no clue about traffic signs as I neither drive nor hold a drivers license. Could someone recommend a place where I can learn about the traffic signs for cyclists, what they mean, the rules for cyclists, safe riding guidelines, etc? I have tried reading the legal rules, but my German is basic and those make my head hurt. Perhaps a site with photos of signs,simple language (either german or english)would be wonderful. I hope that all the cycling enthusiasts here can help me ride safely and correctly.

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I also commute to work in Germany, around the Cologne area. Luckily most of my route is on bike paths and forest trails. However, for the short section where I need to go on the road, I just follow the cyclists. In general, use your common sense and safety first. The German drivers are usually quite tolerant to the cyclist. –  tehnyit Mar 1 '12 at 9:44
    
@tehnyit I'm sorry but, "just follow the cyclists" doesn't seem to me to be adequate or safe advice. I once actually watched someone, some 20 metres behind me, follow me and falling when she failed to cross (angled with) the streetcar tracks in the centre of the 4-lane road. I've seen two 'minor' (although painful) accidents there, and one fatal accident, in only one year of commuting there. There are cycle lanes, but intersections (the fatality was someone caught when the truck she was next to turned right), the two accidents were cyclists turning left across traffic and the streetcar tracks. –  ChrisW Mar 3 '12 at 15:38
    
I wouldn't send family or friend to cycle in traffic without me. Especially anyone who is not a strong cyclist, and who has never learned to drive. –  ChrisW Mar 3 '12 at 15:41
    
When I started my commute on that route, I didn't take that left turn across traffic: instead I cycled another half block staying in the cycle lane: and then dismounted and walked the bike across the pedestrian crossing. It took a few months (during which I fell several times) before I developed the skill and knowledge to make that turn safely. This person I saw fall: she looked a little weak and wobbly, and I actually stopped after I made the crossing, to turn around on my saddle and see what would happen with her: and she fell. Fortunately all the vehicles stopped. I'm worried that she might –  ChrisW Mar 3 '12 at 15:58
    
... have tried to make that turn because she saw me do it. –  ChrisW Mar 3 '12 at 15:58
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4 Answers 4

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You might consider contacting the ADFC (Allgemeiner Deutscher Fahrrad-Club). It is an association specifically for people who cycle as a means of transportation (rather than as a sport - though of course the two are not mutually exclusive).

They are part service organization, part environmental organization. They have local groups (Kreisverband / Ortsverband) in almost every city, which usually have regular meetings. Contact your local group (or just go to the local meeting); they will be very happy to give you hints, share local knowledge etc. (even if you are not a member yourself).

Many local groups even have explicit meetings for people new to the area, or new to cycling in general, where they try to pass on useful knowledge.

For a list of local groups: ADFC vor Ort

They also have a lot of general information on their website. See e.g. Sicher unterwegs.

Note: Most stuff is only available in German, but I hope basic German is enough to read it. Local groups will be German as well, but many people will speak some English.

Disclaimer: I am an ADFC member myself, and have been active for several years.

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Google "german traffic signs" and you'll get a number of good references for road signs, including some nice charts. For instance: http://www.gettingaroundgermany.info/zeichen.shtml . Of course, these aren't bike-specific.

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Perhaps you should get at least one lesson in person from an experienced rider: who can tell you what you want to know, and, correct anything you're doing wrong which you don't even know enough to ask about.

I don't think you should "cycling in real traffic" with no experience at all and based only on what you read: there's more to it, it's more complicated or takes more skill, than only understanding the traffic signs.

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Here is a good place to start Road Traffic Rules And here might be helpful also Learning to Drive in Europe

Not sure how it is in Germany, but in the United States. Cars and Bikes must obey the same rules of the road and believe it or not share equal rights of the road. It would make sense that the same is true in Germany, considering how it would not be practical to make a separate set of road signs for just bicycles, etc. I would suggest you go to your local resources for information about learning how to drive an automobile and ask where bikes fit in.

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Those booklets would be in German though. The OP said, "I have tried reading the legal rules, but my German is basic and those make my head hurt." –  ChrisW Mar 3 '12 at 14:53
    
Agreed. This doesn't answer the question at all. –  Neil Fein Mar 4 '12 at 8:02
    
I missed the English part of it see added links. I assumed that there would be multi-language resources available in Germany. –  MrDaniel Mar 4 '12 at 17:57
    
Yes, the question author is asking for such resources. Your links help, but the rest of your answer is supposition and guesswork. –  Neil Fein Mar 4 '12 at 21:30
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