Friday, June 5, 2015

How bike-friendly is your city?

This week's big news in bicycle world (at least for those who just happen to ride their bikes for transport) is the 2015 Copenhagenize Index. Among the most bicycle-friendly cities in the world Copenhagen is first, Amsterdam second, and within the first 10 we also have 3 more Benelux cities, 3 French, 1 Swedish (Malmo) and 1 Spanish (Seville). Really, no surprises here.
More interesting things happened in places 10-20. We have Ljubljana and Buenos Aires ranked 13 and 14 and I didn't expect to see these cities ranked that high at all. Then, there is Minneapolis at number 18 (highest from all North American cities) and Montreal at 20. I'm happy to see that some American cities showed up on the Index and in general this is in agreement with many bicycling infrastructure improvements happening here. Unfortunately, with this rate of improvement Boston will show up in Top 20 around year 2150.
Speaking about the infrastructure, I was watching this video and really enjoyed how something Dutch and Danes take for granted is simply as foreign as real beer to most Americans.

Unfortunately, Dutch (and Danish) concept of bicycling safety is even more foreign on this side of the ocean. Otherwise, we wouldn't see comments like this one:
I enjoyed the video (...). However, it seemed a minority of the cyclists wear helmets and I am wondering why safety would not be stressed more.
Frankly, what truly surprised me in this video was how MANY cyclists wore helmets as in any other videos of this kind I usually couldn't spot a single helmeted person. I explained it to myself that those wearing helmets must be American tourists.

Anyway, it's pretty clear that in this part of the world helmeted cyclist = safe cyclist and words "bicycling" and "infrastructure" just don't mix together. In general, at least.

But cycling infrastructure is not only about those protected lanes that we want so badly but rarely see here. It is also about parking, such as bicycle racks. I have seen many poorly designed and placed racks and I wondered why there are no installation guidelines to follow. Annie from Anniebikes blog must have felt the same. That's why she came up with this guide. Very well written.
A bike rack next to my office building. Not the best design, but I actually like the non-tubular construction. I can use a lighter and narrower u-lock this way.

Finally, some news from Australia (Because no week is a good week without some ridiculous Aussie news). First of all, if Australia's focus is on ticketing jaywalkers, they clearly use their police resources in a wrong way, but that's probably not news anymore. But then it gets worse. The fact Australia is hostile to all people on bicycles is well known. In such case their idea to remove a protected cycle lane in Sydney, in order to widen the street for more cars, as ridiculous as it may sound, is actually not surprising. I could understand such decision if there was some logic behind it, but even though that cycle lane carries more people during the rush hours than car lanes on the same street, Duncan Gay, NSW minister of transport, is not convinced the cycle lane should stay.
College Street cycle lane is used by more people than adjacent car lanes. Minister's of transport decision? "Remove it!"
Actually, Duncan Gay must be mentally stuck in the 70's as he truly believes that bicycles have place somewhere far in the forest but not on city streets:
Gay is a staunch supporter of Australia’s mandatory helmet law for cyclists, has proposed banning cyclists from some roads, and is also a vociferous champion of making cyclists carry license plates. An Australia without mandatory cycle helmets would lead to “rage everywhere” and would be akin to letting “anarchists run the world,” he has said.  He is “increasingly persuaded” that cyclists need to be licensed – banning cyclists from some roads would be considered “on a safety basis.”
Holy shit! With people like that in your government, good luck Australia getting close to Copenhagenize Top 20 before year 2500.

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