Stuttgart tram with trusty pre-Xtracycle M-trax on the bike wagon

Stuttgart tram. Pre-Xtracycle M-trax on the bike wagon

I really like Stuttgart, which is odd, because I’m not a city person. I think it’s because it is small. The city is hemmed in by very steep wooded hills on three sides, even standing in the centre of the Schlossplatz, you can reach dense woodland in 15 minutes. I also find it rather endearing that despite doing it’s level best to look like it’s all chic and cool,  it’s pretty eccentric a lot of the time.

It also has a rack railway which will carry your bike up out of the valley for the price of a normal ticket. I’m really keen on this as it means I avoid climbing up a 17% gradient at the end of the day when I’ve got stuff on the Xtracycle. Instead I can drive my bike on the wagon, wrap it thoroughly with a bungee and when the driver finishes his cigarette he gets on board and drives off. In some parts of the world -where I grey up, for example- the idea of people being trusted to get on a wagon and secure their own bike to it would be treated with great suspicion. I would probably have to wait in a queue for the Official Loader Of Bikes to do it for you, sign an indemnity and get a receipt to present to the Official Unloader Of Bikes at the top station, which of course would make the whole thing much slower and uneconomical. Fortunately in Stuttgart -and Germany as a whole- we still hold on to the eccentric idea that people are quite capable of looking after themselves, and people can cycle into the city and take the tram back up the hill without someone telling them what to do.

[Updated and corrected 29/09/2008 -thanks to James for pointing out the mistake…]