The history of the bike cafe

What are your associations with Switzerland? Usually the Alps, reliable banks, beautiful penknives, and delicious cheese and chocolate come to mind. Now, every cyclist can safely add to this honorable list an extremely curious and useful know-how of the city of Zurich – bicycle cafes. This term appeared thanks to the city administration’s program called Stadtverkehr 2025, which is aimed at popularizing cycling, developing urban infrastructure, and, of course, attracting tourists. The authorities reasonably assumed that by 2025 the number of cyclists on the streets will increase significantly (as, indeed, everywhere in Europe), so the city needs to be prepared in advance. The popular Zurich cafe Rathaus Café offers its guests an amazing service!

What is special about the cafe?

The main feature of the place is that visitors who come on bicycles can sit at the tables in the literal sense, without getting off the bike! Technically, the idea is not difficult to implement: wooden tables have vertical slots that securely fix the front wheel, as well as footrests so that guests can sit comfortably. You drive up, get settled easily, make an order and enjoy hot coffee while cycling. Great idea, right?

Is this innovation popular?

To say that the people of Zurich are delighted is to say nothing. Every day, authorities receive a lot of proposals about which attractions should be equipped with such a popular service. Thus, it is possible not only to significantly increase the comfort of cycling around the city, but also to unload parking spaces and significantly reduce the number of bike thefts. Indeed, in such cafes you don’t have to worry about the safety of a two-wheeled friend!

Are there any problems with this idea?

In Germany, this popular innovation transformed into the Partybike powered by pedals, equipped with a counter, a beer dispenser and often a music system. The counter bikes are mainly rented out in large cities by commercial providers for celebrations, social outings and city tours. Comparable vehicles are also common in Great Britain, the Netherlands, the United States and Ireland. Counter bikes are criticized on the one hand because of the often drunk passengers, on the other hand because it is a comparatively large and slow traffic participant, especially in large cities.
The German authorities welcome a ban on counter bikes on public roads because alcohol consumption and participation in road traffic do not go together.

Düsseldorf was the first city in Germany to ban a beer bike rental company from using public roads without a special permit. The commercial operator sued against this through several instances. Since November 1, 2017, popular beer bikes are no longer allowed to drive through the center of Amsterdam.