Hamburg’s StadtRAD is rad!

(ok, sorry about the title, i couldn’t resist. btw, stadt = city and rad = bike)

one of the amenities of the airbnb place that i’m staying at here in Hamburg is the use of the host’s StadtRAD keytag, which gives you access to the city’s bicycle sharing program. i’ve been in cities with bike sharing systems before but have never used one personally (why huff and puff when you can sit in a bus or tram or subway?). this time, though, having the system at my fingertips, i couldn’t resist and this morning rode the mile or so from Reeperbahn station to Altona station. rides up to 30 minutes are freeeeee!

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the directions (english) online seem simple enough, but it’s not very clear without pictures, so i managed to find a video (german) on youtube that explained the process, which helped because i didn’t want to look like a helpless tourist out there trying to figure out how it all worked. but really, it’s easy. everything is touchscreen-driven.

Tap your keytag at the kiosk to begin (and choose English as your language if you prefer). When you rent a bike, it will give you a choice of bikes parked at that location. How it knows, beats me — the locks are magical.

They didn’t do a very good job of translating from German to English (it’s like they just translated word for word on this screen lol), but the instructions are nonetheless very clear.

Flip open the flap on the lock box (by the back wheel) and touch the screen to unlock the bike. Pull the locking bar out of the bike and off you go! (It’s a bit dark; the screen says “Gute Fahrt! / Safe journey!”)

The bike is comfy, if not a bit heavy. And for all you non-hipsters out there, there are gears!

When you’ve arrived at your destination (needs to be a StadtRAD location; you can’t just park anywhere), find an open parking stand and push the locking bar through. On side of the bike’s lock box, depress the button to lock the bike. Be sure you put the kickstand down — I didn’t at first and the display said “Out of Order”.

astute readers may notice that the screenshot above says i rented bike 7546, but the bike in the last picture is 8352. i discovered right after unlocking 7546 that the back tire was flat and all wonky, so i re-locked it, reported the problem using the touchscreen, and rented another (8352). easy-peasy!

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