Pedestrian Bell: Soon To Ring Round Berlin?
Often referred to as the urban playground, Berlin has no shortage of sporting action or space. Whatever floats your boat, you can find it here. In fact, even if it doesn't float your boat you’ll come across it. The strains of daily working life do not stand in the way of endorphin kicks as they often do in many capital cities. A nation keen to inhale their fair share of fresh air, Berliners prefer to get to work on their own two wheels. Cycle lanes dominate the city but behind the peddlers, are the bouncing bobble hats of runners.
And I have to take my hat off to them.
Berlin is grey. Greyer than grey in fact. (I know there’s something about shades and 50 of them being grey, but I’m going to stay on the straight and narrow here!) The bleak Berlin skyline hardly acts as a call to action. Yet joggers are out there giving their lycra a good run about with only the quivering naked trees for company.
Don't get me wrong, there’s nothing better than an early morning run before work to fill you with pride as you smugly chow down on your hard earned porridge. I am a keen runner, but winter sure is a hurdle in my tracks.
So what does work in your favour as a runner in Berlin? The green green grass? The wide open spaces? Public toilet cubicles where you don’t have to tip?
Believe it or not, there are more than 2500 public recreational and green spaces in Berlin. It’s not all grit after all. Find your scenic escape in the very Mitte of Berlin as you race past the tourist sights in Tiergarten or go full throttle as you take off from an old airport runway at Tempelhof in Neukoelln. Further afield awaits Grunewald, where you can lose yourself in pure nature. What with so much ground to cover and only 3.4 million inhabitants (a winning ratio when you come from a capital with over 8 million) to contend with, Berlin is a runner’s dream. And with this in mind, I fear the Run Bell will not be selling out in Berlin…
Also known simply as the Pedestrian Bell, it’s one of the latest products to be funded by Kickstarter this year. Fresh from Tokyo, it’s described as a ‘frustration-free’ gadget aimed primarily at runners. A light weight bell worn on your fore finger, you are free to pant on as the bell alerts those blocking the path ahead.
Not a bad idea. But there’s a reason the idea didn’t spring from the hotspot of Start-ups itself. Bike bells have their place but runners still have their freedom of space. For now that is. As for the foreseeable future? I hope the ratio stays forever in our favour!
By Alice Higgins