Cycling is allowed on all roads and highways but not on the autobahns (motorways). Cyclists must follow the same rules of the road as cars and motorcycles. Helmets are not compulsory (not even for children), but wearing one is common sense. Dedicated bike lanes are common in bigger cities.
Bicycles may be taken on most trains but require a separate ticket (Fahrradkarte), costing €9 per trip on long-distance trains (IC and EC and night trains), or €10 on international routes. You need to reserve a space at least one day ahead and leave your bike in the bike compartment, which is usually at the beginning or end of the train. Bicycles are not allowed on high-speed ICE trains.
The fee on local and regional trains (IRE, RB, RE, S-Bahn) is €5.50 per day. There is no charge at all on some local trains. For full details, enquire at a local station or call 01805-99 66 33.
Many regional bus companies have vehicles with special bike racks. Bicycles are also allowed on practically all boat and ferry services.
Most towns and cities have some sort of bicycle-hire station, often at or near the train station. Hire costs range from €7 to €20 per day and from €35 to €85 per week, depending on the model of bicycle. A minimum deposit of €30 (more for fancier bikes) and/or ID are required. Some outfits also offer a repair service or bicycle-storage facilities.
Hotels, especially in resort areas, sometimes keep a stable of bicycles for their guests, often at no charge.
Call a Bike (www.callabike-interaktiv.de) is an automated cycle-hire scheme operated by Deutsche Bahn (German Rail) in some 50 German towns and cities. In order to use it, you need a credit card to pre-register for free online or at one of the dozens of docking stations scattered around the central districts. There are English instructions at the docking stations. Once you're set up, select a bike and call the phone number marked on it in order to release the lock. When you're done, you must drop the bike at another docking station. The base fee for renting a bike is €1 for 30 minutes to a maximum of €15 per 24 hours. Fees are charged to your credit card.
In around 45 German cities, competition for Call a Bike comes from Nextbike, which charges €1 per 30 minutes or €9 for 24 hours. Register for free via its website or smartphone app, by phone or at rental terminals. You'll need a credit or debit card.