People behind the Parallel Passion: Romy Förster

We present the people behind the Parallel Passion.

Who actually designs areas in front of public buildings, large residential complexes or schools? People who are involved in the Parallel Passion. That’s practical, because that way cities can become more and more bicycle-friendly. That’s why: Local appointment in Berlin-Pankow, or Karow. Romy Förster, landscape architect and enthusiastic cyclist lives here.

Bright red Rose plus gravel bike

“I bought my first racing bike second-hand, just for testing purposes”, Romy says and adds happily: “Half a year later I bought a new one from the Rose company. Bright red. Three weeks ago I bought a gravel bike, so now I have enough two-wheelers.”

Everything by bike

Born in Rostock, she has always ridden a lot on her bike. Although Romy has a driving licence, she has no car. Especially because the bicycle is simply the fastest and most practical means of transport in Berlin. She also uses the bike for long distances. “Every year I go on a four-day tour with friends. But with the single speed and 15 kg luggage to the Baltic Sea, I never do that again!

Number three: the city bike

It’s starting to drizzle a little. No reason for Romy, born in 1988, to give up her bike. She rides in wind and weather, just not in ice and snow. For the short interview tour through Berlin, she swings onto her comfortable city car, her bike number three. It’s nice and comfortable, she says, and she can plug it in anywhere.

Long tours, new friends

So we cycle through Berlin. When a racing cyclist passes by, Romy calls out, “Because I’ve seen people like that all the time, I got on a racing bike myself.” She would have loved it. Unfortunately this hobby is also expensive. That’s why she first started with the used bike and careful tours of 20 to 30 km. She also signed up for the Strava app right away. One day she received an invitation to join a cycling group from Pankow, which soon became the Radelkader Panke.

A lot of action every week

Since then, Romy has often been on the road with this squad. “The group is also growing, there are always new and also nice people joining,” says Romy, who has Monday, 7 p.m., firmly in her calendar. Because that’s when the squad meets regularly for a ride together. On Wednesday, 40 km of gravel tours are on the agenda. Twice a week there are evening rounds, on weekends you can ask in the group if anyone feels like going on a tour. “I think the group is one of the reasons why I stay on the road bike,” says Romy, who – when she’s not working in her home office – rides the 20 km to and from her workplace every day.

Together and good cause – give it to me

Romy would have loved to take part in the Mecklenburger Seenrunde, which had to be cancelled due to Corona. She found out about the Parallel Passion through the cancellation e-mail from the organizer and immediately decided to join in: “I’ve already been with Strava. Cycling together for a good cause – I liked that. That’s why I’m in it.”

Eyes on the city

The rain is beginning to be unpleasant. We stop and seek shelter under a subway line. “On the bike I see the city with different eyes”, Romy screams to drown out the rain and social distancing. The office where she works as a landscape architect plans, among other things, the appearance of streets and paths in Berlin. “We also advocate cycle paths and sensible road surfaces, but we’re not traffic planners. Our job is to design spaces in the street area, including places in front of buildings,” says Romy, “where cyclists have to be able to get around. So – from that point of view, my profession has something to do with cycling.”

Less car, more bicycle

The office in which Romy works is commissioned by district offices and housing associations, among others. She would like to push more in the direction of the bicycle at one point or another, but she can only suggest: “Away from the car, towards the bicycle. And less conflict between car and bicycle. Both are very important to me. But the screws are turned by others.”

Marathons on the horizon

But Romy is increasingly tinkering with her bicycles herself. She does small repairs on her own, she has her gravel bike all assembled by herself. When she needs help she asks her friends from the Radelkader Panke. Currently the team is preparing to participate in the marathon around Berlin and the Hügelmarathon Prenzlau. “I’m curious to see what I’ll notice on the tours in the direction of more and better space for bikes,” says Romy.

New cycling paths through Corona

The pop-up cycling paths, which were mainly designated in Berlin during the Corona period, are very popular with the architect for public spaces. It is not yet clear whether these routes can remain as they are. But perhaps the Corona period has speeded up decision-making processes. Romy hopes that many of these routes can remain. Who knows, maybe there will soon be a pop-up marathon on new bicycle paths in Berlin. Romy also finds the city project “Radbahn” very exciting: a covered cycle path is to be built under a listed elevated railway viaduct.

Cycling into the summer evening

Until then and beyond, the team of the Parallel Passion always wishes well maintained roads, a lot of fun with the Radelkader Panke – and of course with the Parallel Passion. The rain has stopped now, the sun is coming out. Romy waves and cycles, no, of course not home. Instead, she will go for a ride on this beautiful summer evening with a Strava cycling friend who has just signed up via app.

Click here for Romys Strava-profile.

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