A lot of the differences in modes of transportation are easily understood when you keep in mind how large the United States are in comparison to Germany. Also, gasoline is a lot more expensive in Germany than it is in the US.
German people walk a lot. Not as a form of exercise, just to get to where they want to go. When I read S.X. Meagher’s I Found My Heart in San Francisco series, I was amazed what a big deal walking around seemed to be for her characters. Clearly, US cities are designed with cars in mind, not pedestrians.
It’s different in Germany. That’s not to say that there aren’t German people who take the car just to check the mailbox, but in general, you see people walk everywhere, so there are a lot more sidewalks than in the US.
And bikes (meaning bicycles) are very popular – again, not for exercise, but for everyday transportation. So especially in cities with universities, there are bike lanes everywhere. Around train stations or near universities, it might look like this:
You don’t want to know how long it takes to even find your bike at the end of the day and to get it out of that mass of other bikes.
You also often see people riding their bikes with one pant leg rolled up. No, that’s not a fashion statement or a gang sign. It’s done to protect the pants from getting grease stains from the bike chain. Or we use leg bands to keep the pant leg away from the chain. Apparently, that’s thought of as geeky in the US.
A lot of bikes also have baskets, not attached to the handlebars but to the back of the bike.
Yes, even young people have baskets on their bikes.
I also heard someone mention that German bikes look very old-fashioned, as if from the 1950s, to Americans. What do you think?