Monday, 3 June 2013

Cycling in Wrocław - it's not exactly Amsterdam

I highlighted some nice infrastructure that Wrocław has to offer earlier. The bad is that such infrastructure is neither perfect nor consistent. I haven't had to look hard for examples for this post, unfortunately.

When the going gets tough - the cycle lanes get going

Firstly, and most crucially, the segregated lanes frequently give up when you need them most. Coming into the city centre there is decent segregated infrastructure that comes to an abrupt end from a few directions.

Coming from the West (on Kazimierza Wielkiego), this lane gives up on you to make way for a third lane of traffic. Notice the cyclist in the photo, who (just after I took the photo) hopped onto the pavement instead of joining three lanes of traffic. I'd do the same, frankly.

Left turn lane prioritised over cycle safety here
(See Street View for a better view of this)

Coming from the South (along Grabiszyńska), there are some OK cycle lanes, to here where there's clearly no room for any cycle infrastructure. Just look at how narrow these roads are!

Cycling paths taking me round the corner, but the city's straight ahead
No, taking me to a parked car and a no cycling sign
Just after the cycling path ends there's room for on pavement parking and three lanes of traffic

And a little further towards town, no room for cyclists here

Elsewhere on Grabiszyńska, the cycle path reverts to shared use in places and is on some horrible surfaces at others.
Four lanes for traffic, shared use for cyclists and pedestrians

Shared use and rubbish surface - no room for a smooth dedicated cycle track here

Finally for Grabiszyńska, the cycle track swaps side of the road, and to legally cross you must wait at three sepatare red/green signals. It can take as long as 4 minutes to cross all three if you're unlucky (yes, I timed it). We'd never ask motorists to wait at three light phases, so why cyclists (and pedestrians)? It frequently feels like being a second class citizen.

No room for continued path on this side of the road, must swap sides taking upto 4 minutes waiting at red lights
Another major street in the city, ul. Świdnicka, there is some comically painted bikes on the road. Not even an advisory lane. As you can see, there'd be no room for high quality Dutch style infrastructure here.

Braving it on ul. Świdnicka
It seems like planners are willing to take the easy decisions, but ultimately not take away space from motor vehicles. You'll never create a significant modal share, nor a cycling culture, this way

Infrastructure from Hell

Advance Stop Lines. These have been covered extensively by other blogs (probably never better than here). They're somewhere between useless and worse than useless. It's no surprise that most cyclists on this road are to be found on the pavement.

Fancy trying to share this three-lane junction with a bendy-bus? No, me neither.

Useless infrastructure. Why bother?

Lanes too narrow to be usable. Difficult to pass one other cyclist, imagine the ambition in building this?

Not a great surface, and so narrow
And conflicts between cyclists and pedestrians

Good luck giving way to pedestrians coming out of the park - no way to see them until it's too late
Similarly, there's an exit from the park round this blind corner. No better place for the cycle path here.

Signage - Where is It?

Spot the sign for cyclists in this photo.

Excellent signage, but where?

No? Here you go.

Ah, there it is. But what does it mean?
Ah, the R9. Could you imagine if motorists were provided with rubbish like this? No destination, no number of kilometres, no times, just R9. Useless. I need to be able to get on my bike and go to where I want. Normal people don't go on the Internet or check a route map to find out where the R9 goes before they set out, and nor should they. Lack of signage has landed me on a fast and busy dual carriageway (when the path I was on came to a sudden end), but a parallel road had a continuing path. I had no way of knowing this. Motorists don't have to tolerate this, neither should cyclists. This stuff is comparatively easy to fix, an absolute no-brainer.

I think it's fair to say that Wrocław may have some stuff right, and it's certainly better than many UK cities, but it has a long way to go to.