Munich is home to what is consistently rated as one of the best public transportation networks in the world. Whatever you destination a subway, tram, train, or bus can be found a short distance away. Even with this convenience, however, there are situation where a more direct form of transportation is just the ticket: A bicycle!
Wouldn’t it be great if you could walk out your door and find a bicycle at the ready for you to hop over to the beer garden, visit a museum, or do a quick errand? Munich, and many other German cities, offer this service. It’s run by the German railway systems, the Deutsche Bahn (DB), and hundreds of bicycles are scattered throughout the city each summer. They are a heavy duty affair with extra durable everything. They aren’t light, but the ride well and the five gear selection can get you down to the Granny gear if you need to tackle a tough hill. Whether Berlin, Frankfurt am Main, Karlsruhe, Cologne, Munich, Stuttgart or at one of the numerous ICE stations – wherever you see one of the DB bikes, all you have to do is make a quick phone call, or use the new iPhone or Android app and off you go.
So, how does the system work? After you have registered as a customer, you can check out a bike by calling or using the smart phone app. You can drop off the bike anywhere inside the designated boundaries of the city.
Register: If you have an international plan on your cell phone, you can easily make this work. From the USA, you call 011 49 345 292970 to set up your customer ID and place your credit card on file. There is a website for this as well at www.callabike.de , but it’s only in German. If you have a smart phone, download the Call-a-Bike application which is also offered in English. From there, you can more easily set-up your account.
Check-out: Once you are registered, checking bikes in and out is a breeze, especially when using a smartphone. The application has a locater service which brings up a local map and shows you where bikes are located. When you see a CallBike you wish to use, call the telephone number in the red box on the cover of the CallBike lock and confirm that you wish to rent the bike. Open the cover of the lock, touch the display and follow the instructions. The lock will be released and you can set off. If you wish to take a break, you can use the bolt to secure the bike. The opening code you were given remains valid.
Return: Park the bike at the nearest major road intersection, bier garden, or major building and use the bolt to lock it. In Berlin, Frankfurt, Stuttgart and at ICE stations, bikes can only be collected from and returned to the rental stations. To lock the bike, press the button to the right of the lock. Read the receipt code shown on the display, phone the number on the lock cover again and follow the instructions. In Berlin, Frankfurt, Karlsruhe and Stuttgart you do not receive a receipt code or have to phone to return the bike.
Cost: Each minute of use costs € 0.08, but the maximum daily tariff is just € 15.00. If you have a DB BahnCard, it’s even less. Even at the maximum tariff, that’s a cheaper rate then you’ll pay at the bike rental places. Granted their bikes and better, but once you consider the convenience of being able to leave the bike pretty much wherever you want, the DB option is excellent.