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A cyclist , also cyclist , Swiss German cyclist , is a person who uses a bicycle to get around .

A cyclist

Legal Aspects

Sign 138-10 cyclists cross (Germany)

If a cyclist uses the public traffic area, he as a road user is bound by the provisions of the Road Traffic Regulations (StVO) with regard to his rights, his obligations, his ability to drive and the road safety and usability of his vehicle . He is a vehicle driver in the sense of the StVO .

As a rule, cyclists in Germany ride on the lane ( Section 2, Paragraph 1 of the StVO , exception: children under 8 years of age), unless there are additional cycling facilities that are or are not required to be used . Bicycle traffic facilities that are subject to mandatory use are usually identified by road signs 237 , 240 , 241-30 or 241-31 . In some cases, otherwise blocked traffic routes such as one-way streets, footpaths or pedestrian zones can be released for cyclists by sign 1022 . Motorways and motorways are generally closed to cyclists in Germany.

Obligation to use cycle paths

"An obligation to use cycle lanes may only be ordered if, due to the special local conditions, there is a risk situation that significantly exceeds the general risk of impairing legal interests (Section 45 (9) sentence 2 of the Road Traffic Regulations - StVO)."

- BVerwG 3rd Senate

The compulsory use of cycle lanes is often criticized because, on the one hand, despite the lack of structural requirements (e.g. minimum width, surface condition), some cycle paths are designated as requiring use and, on the other hand, because various studies indicate an increased risk of accidents when bicycle and motorized traffic are on separate traffic routes instead of on Mixed operation are on the way. Illegal signs are also usually effective.

Technical equipment


In Germany, cyclists are obliged to equip their bike with bike lights and reflectors in accordance with Section 67 StVZO in order to be able to use it on public transport. In contrast to small motorcycles , which also include S-Pedelecs , permanent daytime running lights are not required for bicycles . Similar regulations also apply in other countries.

In addition to the legally prescribed lighting, additional lighting equipment (e.g. flashing rear light) may also be used, provided that other road users are not blinded by it.

Further equipment (not required by law, not complete)

A trouser protector (also known as a trouser clip) protects the legs of long trousers from dirt and from getting caught in the bicycle chain.

A bicycle helmet (also known as Velohelm in Swiss) is head protection for cyclists that is designed to reduce the forces acting on the cyclist's skull in the event of an accident in order to prevent or lessen injuries. Helmets are not compulsory in Germany, but they are in Australia, Finland, Malta, New Zealand and South Africa. In other countries, helmets are at least partially compulsory (e.g. out of town or for children).

A safety vest or other reflective clothing improves visibility in poor light conditions.

Sporty aspects

As a cyclist and bike athletes , a cyclist is called, the cycling operates, so trained systematically increasing its physical and technical performance driving with sporty ambitions.

The following partial aspects can be specifically trained and operated:

  • Endurance: Any form of cycling is suitable for this
  • Skill: In addition to artificial cycling , cyclocross and mountain biking are particularly suitable here , as these types of cycling depend on skilful and precise piloting of the bike.
  • Power: First and foremost, cycling has a strengthening effect on the leg muscles, as these are used to propel the vehicle. But all other muscle groups are also strengthened, as they are needed to keep the vehicle in balance (see Skill).
  • Speed: Especially racing cyclists who work as sprinters train their speed. But speed is also trained by other cyclists. Speed ​​is also used on mountain bikes or cyclocross, for example, to overcome short obstacles. Speed ​​in the figurative sense as a "quick reaction" is trained overall when cycling (cf. skill).

Environmental conditions

In addition to the problems arising from legal aspects, such as the obligation to use cycle paths and antiquated equipment regulations, cyclists mainly have to do with the following factors:


The weather has always been a major problem for cyclists. In contrast to users of closed vehicles, they are exposed to the weather without protection. There is a large selection of special weather protection clothing, but these may have to be carried in addition to normal clothing. The following weather conditions cause problems for cyclists:

  • Wind : While the direction of travel of the rear wind blowing ( tailwind is perceived) as pleasant and helpful, but it presents itself as a problem as soon as it blows from a different direction. Especially headwind is perceived as very disturbing, because the cyclist here depending on the wind strength a lot of energy to expend just to overcome this wind must. Also crosswind is a problem because he is likely to shift the lane of the cyclist along the wind direction. This can be very dangerous, especially with sudden gusts.
  • Cold : Cold is perceived as unpleasant even by non-cyclists. In the case of cyclists, however, there is also the problem of additional cooling from the wind, the so-called wind chill . It is not enough to just “dress warmly”. The physical exertion of driving tends to make you sweat, the soaked sweaty clothes then cool down a lot when you stop. There is a risk of damage to health. In addition, thick clothing hinders the freedom of movement necessary when cycling. Only modern functional clothing protects the cyclist effectively without restricting him.
  • Wetness ( rain ): Rain has always been the cyclist's “natural enemy”. Especially in times when clothing was mainly made of wool , wetness was the main problem for cyclists. The clothes soaked up with water, became heavy, in the case of wool also very scratchy, and the wetness also caused a cooling effect. In addition, it is difficult to participate in professional or social life in wet clothing. Early attempts at rain protection clothing (rubberized clothing, oilskins ) were only moderately suitable for cycling, as the body heat produced by physical exertion and the sweat produced in this way could not escape. So you only had the choice between rain- or sweat-soaked clothing. Extensive rain protection clothing also hinders the necessary freedom of movement. This can be remedied with modern functional clothing, but even the most modern fibers and membranes have to make a compromise between breathability and waterproofness. The result is often viewed as unsatisfactory by cyclists.
  • Heat is i. d. Usually less of a problem, as cycling itself creates a cooling airflow. However, heat is a problem for commuters who have to wear certain work clothes. Here it is necessary to wear clothing that is suitable for the weather on the bike and also to carry the necessary work clothing with you or to keep it at the workplace.


The cyclist also has problems coping with particular types of terrain. Once a wheel has been set in motion, it can be driven easily and efficiently on level ground.

  • On inclines, however, the cyclist has to use a lot of force in order to overcome this incline with the total weight of bike, driver and possibly luggage. A gear shift is intended to solve this problem by reducing the effort required by means of a different translation . However, you have to pedal faster, which also requires a certain amount of physical effort.
  • Downhill slopes, on the other hand, require cyclists to have a high degree of vehicle control, as the bike can become very fast. In professional cycling events such as the Tour de France , cyclists sometimes descend from the mountains at speeds of over 100 km / h. In addition to being able to steer the bike, you also need good brakes when driving downhill . Before the invention of the freewheel , cyclists had the additional problem of always having to step with the rigidly moving crank on fast descents .

Medical aspects

Number of accident cyclists in Germany from
2003 to 2013

Positive effects

Cycling has a positive effect on the entire organism , especially on the cardiovascular system . Cycling as a sport or leisure activity is possible at practically any age and is often the only feasible sport for people with physical limitations, as it is very easy on the joints. In contrast to running, for example, the legs , knees and hips do not have to bear the body weight, since the cyclist is sitting. Doctors often recommend cycling for the reasons listed above. Cycling promotes fitness : physical performance can be increased by cycling (see cycling ).

Negative effects

Normal cycling does not have any negative health effects. However, such effects are possible due to side effects: In the event of an accident with cars and trams, cycling carries a considerable risk of injury . Typical fall injuries are lesions or fractures at hand , forearm , knee and in the hip and the shoulder ( collarbone ). Serious head injuries can occur if you fall over the handlebars or at high speed. Accidents in which motorized road users are also involved can be fatal for cyclists.

Cost and environmental aspects

The bicycle as an individual means of transport has enormous potential for cost savings compared to the automobile. In addition to the significantly lower purchase price, there is considerable potential for savings due to the low operating costs . Theoretically, it would be possible to buy a bicycle for the price of a full tank of an upper middle-class car and operate it for years or even decades. In practice, however, such a cheap bike will not be enough for frequent riders or commuters. It must also be assumed that such a bike will not have the desired durability for decades in everyday driving practice. Frequent drivers will also want to buy comparatively expensive special clothing (see section Weather where) to protect them and / or the clothing necessary for their work and / or social life from the effects of the weather. But even if these cost factors are taken into account, the cyclist still has considerable savings potential compared to a motor vehicle: A mid-range car of the so-called "golf class" cost around € 30,000 in Germany in 2008. A mid-range bike is around 800 €, with 100 € for special clothing this would be 900 €, which in this idealized example corresponds to only 3% of the purchase price of the car. The other, also considerable, savings result in operation: while taxes, insurance, fuel and other operating materials have to be bought for the car, this is completely eliminated for the bicycle. There are also no special chargeable vehicle examinations (exhaust emissions test, TÜV) as is the case with motor vehicles. Other costs incurred through operation, such as the replacement of wearing parts or repairs, are also in the fraction of the expenses incurred for a vehicle: firstly, the spare parts (see purchase) are considerably cheaper, secondly, they are subject to less wear and tear than a car, since a bicycle is moved at lower speeds and weighs only a fraction of a car (bike: 20 kg / car: 1,000 kg), which results in lower mechanical loads.

From an environmental point of view , an argument in favor of the bicycle is that it requires far fewer raw materials and energy than that of motor vehicles, i.e. fewer resources are used. In addition, no other operating materials are required to get around by bike: cycling saves an average of 140 grams of carbon dioxide and, compared to a mid-range car, saves at least 38 cents per kilometer, and at the same time protects the environment.

Linguistic, transferred layer of meaning

The term "cyclist (mentality)" is also used in a figurative sense as a critical metaphor to characterize the typical, opportunistic behavior of the authoritarian character : hump up and step down . The origin of this metaphor is possibly Kurt Tucholsky's review of Heinrich Mann's novel “ Der Untertan ”: “... who humbly and respectfully climbs upwards and steps down wickedly and swollen, the cyclist of the dear God ...” .

The subject in film, music and literature

The film classic "L'École des facteurs" (School of the Postmen) by Jacques Tati from 1947 shows what a rich comedy offense reveals itself on closer inspection . The postman cycling through the district and his bizarre acquaintances are clever, easy-going Highly funny that does not require a lot of words. The German post-war film “Immer These Cyclists” with Heinz Erhardt from 1958 is also a comedy , but much more conservative home-style entertainment. But the subject of the cyclist has also found its way into serious and tragic films , for example in the neorealistic Italian film classic Fahrraddiebe by Vittorio de Sica , who underwent an award-winning Chinese remake as Beijing Bicycle in 2001 .

From the French chanson of the post-war period as well as from the field of Anglo-Irish folk songs, there are songs that give the extended freedom of movement and the experience in the airstream downright anthemic and at the same time humorous sides (fight against the headwind, the incline, the fall) to win. Examples are Georges Brassens in the 1950s and the Northern Irish group The Sands Family in the 1970s . But the bicycle has also found its way into contemporary pop and rock music time and again. Examples are “My white bicyle” from Nazareth , or the well-known “Bicycle Race” from Queen . In the jazz / crossover category, Elvis Costello and the mezzo-soprano Anne Sofie von Otter recently performed the ballad-like piece “Broken Bicycle / Junk” by the authors Tom Waits and Paul McCartney . In German-language music, too, the bicycle was and is again and again a topic, for example “Mein Fahrrad” by the vocal group Die Prinzen , or “Fahrrad fahr'n” by Achim Reichel .

In the literature there are predominantly relevant travel reports from people who partly undertook to conquer neighboring countries, partly foreign continents by bike and then made a book about their experiences to refinance, mostly in addition to the corresponding slide show. Bikes also play a big role in Flann O'Brien's novel The Third Cop .

See also


  • Francesco Baroni: The bicycle . A cultural history from velocipede to mountain bike (original title: La bicicletta translated by Sonja Häussler), White-Star, Wiesbaden 2008, ISBN 978-3-86726-061-9 .
  • Hans Buschnbell: Cyclists in road traffic: liability and insurance law aspects , NJW 50/2011, 3605

Web links

Wiktionary: Cyclists  - explanations of meanings, word origins, synonyms, translations
Wiktionary: Cyclists  - explanations of meanings, word origins, synonyms, translations

Individual evidence

  1. Judgment of November 18, 2010 - BVerwG 3 C 42.09. Guiding principle. November 18, 2010, accessed November 16, 2017 .
  2. ^ Higher Regional Court of Karlsruhe, decision of February 27, 2001 , Az. 2 Ss 87/00, full text.
  3. Bicycle helmet: In which countries is helmet compulsory? In: combat pilot. July 16, 2018, accessed July 16, 2019 .
  4. from: ARD “W like knowledge”.
  5. The world stage . 15th year 1919. First half of the year. No. 13, pp. 317-321.