Berlin’s cyclists are the biggest stress factor for taxi drivers and anyone else who spends many hours every day moving heavy machines through the city. Basically, thanks to the rules of the road, this should be a pure exercise in concentration.
The work is becoming a mental strain, aka "stress", because more and more people on two-wheelers are throwing themselves in front of motorised vehicles in disregard of all rules and laws, as if they don’t want to see tomorrow.
This has a similar effect as if passers-by are being attacked several times a day without warning by people armed with knives in an attempt force someone stab them in the heart.
In our experience, one attack a day is no problem. Skilful evasion, avoiding the shaft of the knife so as not to drive it into the suicidal person’s chest, is something we have all practised for years. The reaction is prompt, without thought, in a fraction of a second.
However, the incessant increase in users of two-wheeled infernal machines usually leads to several of these attacks a day. This overwhelms our compassion and ends up making us ill. We are not unscrupulous members of special task forces who drink the world away after the day’s work is done.
What can we do? We ourselves can only drive more foresightedly, more relaxed and, above all, more slowly. This is detrimental to our earnings, as these are calculated on the basis of the kilometres travelled per hour with a passenger. Our boss and our wallets demand that we drive very quickly.
The solution can really only be to create space in Berlin. All private cars, everything that is not public transport, must leave the city centre. We need a public transport system with small and large electric vehicles for deliveries and trades, and heavy goods vehicles should only be allowed to cross the S-Bahn ring road with special permission.
The policy of compression, the reduction of traffic space as it is currently being pursued, is absurd, because road users need more space, not less. This is available in Berlin with its wide streets. It should be decided who is allowed to use it.
Without private cars and delivery services stressed by piecework, we would be a good deal closer to a city worth living in. That would also help combat the two-wheeled death instinct.
Afterthought: The author of these lines enjoys cycling himself. As a child, he experienced the six-day races at the Sports Palace and in Beijing in the 1980s, how a city with millions of inhabitants almost exclusively met its "mobility needs" by bicycle and bus. At that time, cars were only available with special authorisation for embassies and institutions. That worked wonderfully.
Today, the author avoids travelling through Berlin’s traffic by bike. After surviving several attempts on his life - this word was chosen with care - by delivery van drivers over a short period of time, the joyful pedalling came to an end.
From the dual perspective of cyclist and professional driver, he comes to the conclusion that Berlin urgently needs to make space for all those travelling on foot, by bike and in the vehicles that keep the city running. Both private cars and commercial transport, which is prone to stress and exploitation, have no place on the streets of a city for people.