The spirit of Ride With Us is to involve other people in our ride for the climate and share experiences along the path, a goal completely achieved within the eleventh stage: Koblenz-Köln.
A group of 5 cyclists took the train in the early morning from Köln, to join us at 9.00. We met in Sholssen Park, the starting point of the stage.
The five are part of a very interesting group from the Municipality of Köln that uses the bike to spread out messages of brotherhood. In fact, since 10 years they have been riding around the world to reach the many sister cities of Köln. They went also in Turin, home town of Ugo and Roberto L., while last year they reached Tel Aviv, passing by Palestine, where they gave 10 bikes to the Palestinians. And how much the bike can represent a force for pace, have much to say our friends from Ponti di Pace and Paciclica.
The group is leaded by Werner Schleicher that arrived in Köln together with Dieter Michel, Dirk Ehlers, Roland Braun and Barbara Moehlendick.
Barbara is responsible for the climate change area for the City of Köln. Having a manager responsible for this issue is a real sign of the concrete actions that the Municipality of Köln has taken to cope with climate change and it should be an example for both Italian and other European municipalities.
The eleventh stage represented the “calm after the storm” compared with yesterday ‘stage that took us to Koblenz.
We took all the advantages of the flat level of the bike path that runs along the Rhine, pedaling at reduced speed and chatting quietly between us and with our friends from Köln. They suggested to stop for a coffee in Remagen at Caffé Friuli.
After the owner, Sergio Londero, found out that we came from Italy by bike, he celebrated our arrival touchingly by offering us trays of cheese, cold cuts and bread which, added to the cakes in the shop window and the excellent coffee, turned into a lunch break instead of a brief break.
After having taken a group picture, we gave to the owner the small plaque of RWU, that he will expose on the wall in memory of our meeting, and we were finally ready to go.
At 3.45pm we arrived in Köln, just on time for our appointment at 4.00pm with the Vice Mayor, Andreas Wolter. Actually, a welcome banquet with various tidbits, soft drinks and the famous Kölsch beer brewing, awaited us to seal a day of celebration on the pedals.
Andreas reiterated his full support for our project, that we already knew when we first met in Katowice, and he gave us the hard copy of the letter that we will deliver to the European Commission in Bruxelles. After a brief presentation of our project and its main aims by Daniele, was the turn of Barbara who told us the action plan of the Municipality and the future development plans, such us carbon neutrality, that the Municipality has decided to anticipated compared with the deadline of 2050, the smart city, and the projects of promoting sustainable and low-carbon emission mobility in particular.
Within our journey we had the pleasure to talked with local administrators willing to expand the bike path of their city, such as Padua, Merano, Konstanz and Koln. We felt so good knowing the existence of these visions and concrete actions towards a more sustainable approach, which should be taken as an example by many different administrators.
Just the time to reach the hostel for a hot shower and we were ready for another very interesting meeting with a group of five representatives, between the age of 18 and 34, from different NGOs of Köln: AufBäumen, AusgeCO2hlt, Ende Gelände.
They told us the actions that the various NGOs are taking to protect the territory surrounding the huge Hambach mine that we will see tomorrow along our route.
It was also very interesting the open discussion on how young people look at the relationship with structured politics in classical parties, how they manage meetings and internal communication and how the same people participate flexibly in multiple groups because each of them is somehow labeled and therefore directed towards a specific battle.
The compliments we received for the RWU project were perhaps the most appreciated, because they came from those who feel the need of real changes for preserving their future.
We all felt happy for the fantastic day just passed, so we decided to have dinner in a typical restaurant, the Gaffel am Dom, right next to the Duomo.
We asked for the bill, that was really expensive that it made us sit up. After a more accurate analysis, we found out several dishes that we never ordered and even an average of 11 beers apiece! We estimated that the bill had been increased by 80% compared to the due. Unfortunately similar situations happen sometimes even in our fellow Venice, that’s not only a a typical custom of our city.
That’s a clear sign that we must pay attention at the promises made to combat climate change and also at dinner’ bill.