After only a few weeks of being in Salzburg, I came to the conclusion that I needed a bike. For me, I am so used to riding my bike at home in the states during the summer for cross training, so it was already tempting to shop around. Furthermore, riding the buses can be rather frustrating and time consuming. Sometimes buses can be early or late which can be problematic when it comes to getting to class at a certain time. The prices for bus passes have the ability to do some damage on your bank account after a while as well.
It took me a couple tries in order to get a bike. Most bicycle shop owners speak very little English. So I had to work with my German teacher before I tried to buy a bike in order to know what to say. Additionally, it takes some time to find a bike, as most places do not carry used bikes until April or mid-May. My bike ended up costing me 70 Euro, which was a steal in most cases. I ended up with a Winner Bike from Holland. I have been trying to research when it was exactly made. It seems that the model I purchased was from the 1980’s, which is pretty cool. The bicycle is in good condition and all the gears and breaks work.
After having the bicycle for a couple of weeks, I have been getting to campus from my residence hall in about 5-10 minutes instead of 20-25 minutes by bus. It has been such a relief to have some control over transportation here. Cycling is an enormous part of the Austrian culture as well. Many people do not own cars here, as a trip by bike to their jobs is only about ten to fifteen minutes on average. If a family has an automobile, they use it only to travel far distances, as gasoline is extremely expensive in Austria. It becomes important to note that people do not take the bus instead of riding their bikes due to miserable weather. Bikers ride in rain, hail, or snow here. They are fully invested in their first choice of transportation.
Cycling has also provided some great scenic rides. My residence hall is about 200 meters from the bike path that stretches down the Salzach River in the city. The path runs for about 40 miles and yields to many other paths including the one that runs along the Danube River. Many families who live along the river tend to open their homes come the warmer months to travelers who chose to take weekend trips along the river. Cycling culture in Austria is a common pastime that most people can identify with. It brings society together, whether it is for transportation, pastimes, and even health reasons.
In the next couple of months, it is my intention to explore the area of Salzburg by bike even more. The warmer weather ahead should help with that!