BERLIN: Breakdown rescue services are traditionally meant for car owners, but this may change in many parts where commuters are switching from four to two wheels following a bicycle boom during the pandemic.
Europe’s largest car club, Germany’s ADAC, is the latest to have begun offering a rescue service for cyclists, and says it has deployed help to some 2,500 stranded bikers in the first three months since launching bike breakdown coverage for the first time in June.
Similar services exist in other countries, and while Britain’s long-standing ETA service offers repairs and a taxi home guarantee for £24 (RM124) a year, other mobility insurers like Australia’s Bicycle Network offer bike rescues as part of broader policies.
In 11 German cities, from Hamburg to Munich, breakdown technicians now also arrive by pedelec with a trailer carrying everything they need for bike repairs.
Countries like Italy, Japan and the US have all witnessed a large rise in the number of cyclists since the spread of the coronavirus spurred more to commute in the fresh air and the increased numbers of remote workers reduced the numbers of cars on roads.
Germany, too, witnessed a rise in cyclist numbers, as municipal planners in cities moved to convert lanes of traffic into protected bicycle lanes to promote zero-emissions commutes.
Germany’s new rescue service, available for classic bike and pedelec owners, is designed to help cyclists in all breakdown scenarios, although ADAC says the majority (roughly three in four) of calls are due to flat tyres. A small minority of breakdowns are due to problems with the chain, brakes and gears.
In 95% of all cases, bike repair specialists were able to help, the ADAC spokesman for the states of Hesse and Thuringia, Cornelius Blanke said on Wednesday, three months after the service launched.
The service’s team of breakdown assistants, which until now have predominantly been rescuing car drivers, have also been specially trained to work on bicycles and now have the necessary equipment in their vehicles.