Friday, July 23, 2010

About fairness

A few days back I got this fairness flyer on the Donaukanal bike path:

flyer - fairness zone donaukanal (front)
"fair cyclists" flyer -- to read the back click here (in German)

It is obviously a flyer dedicated to cyclists. A lovely and really positive sketch in the front, certainly. A not so promising text on the back. It starts with "Already cycled fair today?", and tells us about some major problems of the Donaukanal bike path: it's crowded and there are a lot of conflicts between cyclists, pedestrians and playing children. It aims to educate people to ride slowly and carefully.

Why, you ask, is this necessary? Isn't it a bike path? No, it isn't. It's one of these horrible constructions that are typical for Vienna -- a combined foot and bike path with no separation of foot and bike traffic at all. No separation, because in most places it's also way too narrow. All this is pretty bad on a nice day, because it gets really crowed -- with cyclists, pedestrians, playing children, joggers, dogs, pub crawlers etc. Unfortunately, though, this is a major connection for cyclists traveling from North to South. It's used in many different ways. There are people cycling to work, road cyclists, recreational seekers, and even bike tourists. And it is a foot path and a playground. It's like cycling through a busy park (generally not allowed in Vienna). Well, have a guess. This just cannot work out.

What does the city do? Hand out flyers to cyclists and tell them to slow down. Fair enough, but that's obvious. It would be much fairer, if they -- in addition -- say something like "Ok, we know this design needs improvement, but bear with us. We are going to rebuild this stretch to create a real fast bike connection and comfy recreational area for your convenience. Simply because we appreciate you cyclists/pedestrians/joggers/children and want to provide you an adequate infrastructure. No more, no less."

PS: It would be great if the city wouldn't just bother about the Donaukanal bike path in the summer, but also clear it properly in the winter (really, snow and ice isn't so much fun to cycle on). Cheers!


Andy in Germany said...

When do the flyers for car, bus, and truck drivers come out?

Combined with the lack of snow clearance in winter it makes it clear who is important, and who isn't to the city.

Steve A said...

Isn't it illegal to use the street rather than the path? Methinks the City speaks with forked tongue.

Velouria said...

The Donaukanalradweg does get crowded in summer between Urania and Friedensbruecke, where all the outdoor cafes are - and during the World Cup it was pretty much impassable on some evenings! But... Anna, you have no idea what a paradise it is compared to the Charles River bike path in Boston. The crowding here is even worse, but the bike/pedestrian path is 1/3 times the width of the Danube Canal path, and it is full of pot holes and huge cracks. I have not ridden on it since spring; I just take the streets. If Boston had infrastructure even close to what Vienna has, I would love it!

2whls3spds said...

Sounds like typical US "cycling structure" also known as a MUP (multi-use path). My comprehension of German is pretty weak, but I did not see any mention of walkers staying to one side of the path and not walking 4 abreast, nor anything about keeping your dog on a short leash.

They don't want us on the roads, they don't want us on the MUP's...if that is the case then give us dedicated cycling structure and maintain it!


anna said...

@ Velouria: Yeah, I totally understand your viewpoint. Most of the time (apart from the extreme summer and winter months) it is actually quite a good connection. However, I prefer to compare our cycling infrastructure with countries that are better in it rather than worse. Plus, to use the car lanes along the Donaukanal is not just forbidden, but would also be dangerous here. So I'm a bit unhappy when I want to get somewhere fast. However, the Donaukanal bike path is very beautiful, and I wouldn't want to miss it.

MELI. said...

I like the little drawing :D

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