Friday, 17 May 2013

Cycling in Wrocław, Poland - Let's start with the positives

We hear a lot about cycling in Europe - Denmark, Germany and, of course, The Netherlands. I'm currently living in Wrocław in South West Poland; it's not exactly known as a cycling nirvana internationally. I'm going to write a few posts on cycling here, the good and bad (there's a fair amount of both).

Since this is the first post on a new blog, I'm going to start out with three big positives.

1) Wrocław has a decent number of cyclists. It's no Amsterdam, but I've seen all sorts of people on all sorts of bkes. Lots of really practical Dutch-style bikes, lots of women and older cyclists. Very few people wear helmets or Lycra and I've seen no-one with illuminous clothing so far. Cycling doesn't seem to be any kind of statement, just a means of transport.

2) There is some really nice, if somewhat patchy, segregated cycling infrastructure.

Great example of a 'floating' bus stop

Priority over side roads (I assume...)

Cyclists separated from pedestrians and cars here

Nice continuity of the path over this junction
The above pictures were taken on a ride from the city centre, to a shopping centre about 5km out of town. There's also an excellent segregated path to the Airport (about 10km from the centre) and a fair few more dotted around.

There are a good number of so-called 'floating' bus stops, avoiding conflict with pedestrians (common elsewhere in Europe and soon to be trialled in London - see Evening Standard

3) There's a decent cycle-hire scheme, run by NextBike. It has around 30 docking stations and use for upto 20 minutes is completely free (no access charge as in London). After 20 minutes the tariff is very reasonable. The scheme is simple to use (there are machines at each docking station and there's an excellent mobile webstite/smartphone app). Bikes are locked and unlocked using a simple 4-digit code on the lock. Unlike London's scheme, if a dock is full you can simply chain your bike to another so you're never stuck with your bike. There's a guide to the system in English at Wrocław Uncut  and some usage stats at here

However, in terms of overall cyclists in Wrocław, Nextbike users are a pretty small proportion (I'd hazard a guess at 5%). In terms of a cycling revolution, cycle hire is always going to be on the periphery.

Docking station next to the entrance of a major shopping centre

The machines are a little fiddly, but you can use a smartphone app instead