I've only been in Paris for a week, but gathered more impressions than I can deal with. It's even harder to sum it all up. Paris is many things I love -- stunning, green, multicultural, open, relaxing and (within the last days) also sunny. Despite its size, I walk most of the time or use the metro. Throughout the week I work, but I try to catch hold of some special features that Paris offers. Well, among many other things, Paris is famous for the Mona Lisa in the Louvre. Let's have a look at some other paintings today...
What I particularly like are the cycle paths and bike lanes throughout the town. They are really wide and clearly marked. Some of the bike symbols are boxed in green. Can anybody tell me the meaning of that?
|Segregated two-way cycle path and bike lane in Paris|
Cycling is generally allowed on bus lanes, which offer a huge area for cyclists to cycle more safely on the road. In Vienna, the Wiener Linien try hard to avoid something like that from happening (but a few bus lanes are already open for cyclists, too).
In some places one can find a special version of so-called bike boxes in front of traffic lights. Such bike boxes are easy to implement (in fact, just a little bit of paint is required), but are a great safety feature for cyclists cause motorists see them. It would be great to have more of those in Vienna, too. So far I only know of one such construction near Mariahilferstraße, but the IG Fahrrad is already working on changing that (read more about their last protest).
Last but not least, one of the greatest bike paintings I have ever seen: bike crossings. In Paris, they are really well marked, with painted-on arrows and bicycles. For cyclists it's obvious where bike lanes continue after the junction, and for people in/on other vehicles it is clear where cyclists are to be expected and where to watch out for them.
Paintings are so simple, but yet so efficient. Let Parisian painters rule the roads!
No cyclists in Paris? By no means! There are hundreds and thousands of them, everywhere and very chic. But be patient, I slowly have to sort out my pictures :-).
As far as I know using the bus lane is generally allowed for cyclists in Vienna.
Unfortunately I'm not able to find a direct reference for this, but see, e.g., this article here: http://abo.wienerzeitung.at/DesktopDefault.aspx?TabID=3902&Alias=Wzo&cob=407376
"Wien. Was haben Fahrräder und Taxis in Wien gemeinsam? Sie dürfen beide auf Busspuren fahren. Die rund 73.000 Wiener mit Motorrädern und Mopeds hingegen dürfen das nicht und müssen gemeinsam mit Autos im Stau stehen."
Hi there, cycling on bus lanes is generally not allowed in Vienna, but there are a few examples where it is possible (I guess that's what they mean in the article). I once asked the council whether they can open a certain bus lane along my commute in Vienna, but they said the Wiener Linien that runs the buses refuses to agree to such ideas. I don't think that changed within in a week. But maybe it will get better in the future.
Further quote from the link by Anonymous:
"Dass auf den bislang freigegebenen Strecken kein Unfall passiert ist, bestätigt uns darin, dass wir mit den entsprechenden verkehrssicherheitstechnischen Überprüfungen richtig gelegen sind", argumentiert Schicker-Sprecher Martin Schipany ebenfalls nicht ganz logisch. Die Busspur-Sperre "im Sinne der Verkehrssicherheit" gelte laut Schipany übrigens auch für Fahrräder. Allerdings – und das musste extra erfragt werden – gibt es für nahezu alle Wiener Busspuren Ausnahmeregelungen für Fahrräder."
And from the Wiener Zeitung of 8.10.2010:
"Immer mehr Wiener steigen vom Auto auf zwei Räder um: Während die Stadt laut Statistik Austria beim Pro-Kopf-Anteil der Pkw an letzter Stelle aller Bundesländer liegt, stieg die Zahl motorisierter Zweiräder seit 2001 um fast 15 Prozent auf rund 76.000 Motorräder, Roller oder Mopeds (Pkw: 664.000). Seitens der ÖVP sieht man aber keinen Effekt in der Verkehrspolitik: "Während Fahrräder überproportional gefördert werden, gelten Krafträder noch immer als eine Art Stiefkind", beklagten Montag Wiens Landesparteichefin Christine Marek und Verkehrssprecher Wolfgang Gerstl.
Im Detail fordert man etwa die Freigabe der Busspuren: "Es gibt kein rationales Argument, warum Taxis oder Fahrräder Busspuren nutzen dürfen, aber Motorräder nicht", argumentiert Gerstl. Derzeit sind in Wien nur fünf Busspuren für Zweiräder freigegeben."
Zweiräder apparently to be read as motorbikes or motorized bicycles.
It seems from this that cycling in bus lanes is an accepted practice. The Wiener Linien may not agree but can do little to stop it.
BTW, you will no doubt agree with the überproportionale Förderung von Fahrrädern :-).
Bike boxes that serve as advanced stop lines seem like excellent and affordable features. It's interesting to me, though, that here in Phoenix drivers currently face a similar situation as apparently they do in Vienna at the moment: there are only a small number of them in place, so I think most drivers aren't always sure what to do with them. Added to their rarity is the unfortunate fact that the City of Phoenix has decided to use them not as advanced stop lines, but rather as bicycle crosswalks for cyclists to navigate between designated bike lanes. So not only are they rare here, but also they are being used in a non-standard way, or at least not as advanced stop lines. I note that the PDF document that I linked is confused: in the purple box on page two it states that "the bike box is a way for bicyclist to cross from one side of the street to the other at a traffic signal." (possibly, under special circumstances, on a one-way street?) Yet the definition right below that is the usage of an advanced stop line. Even the markings shown in the brochure are ambiguous: are they painted in green, or not? Pavement markings need to be simple, standard, unambiguous, and in common use both locally and on a broader level, so that all road users know what to do when they encounter them.
I saw a documentary about the rental bike system in Paris. They have like thousands amd thousands of bikes that are free to use if you borrow them for only after half an hour, after which it gets progressively more expensive. There are return stations in like every 3oo meters. Have you tried that system? According to the documentary it works really well.
Paris is probably the best example in Europe of a big city that has built a culture of transport cycling where one didn't exist. Fifteen years ago, virtually no one biked in Paris. Then in 1995, the then mayor (a conservative, Jean Tiberi) embarked on a programme to promote everyday cycling. Ever since, the city has been spending money on infrastructure, promotions and, of course, the Velib bike share system, and the results have been fantastic. As you say, Anna, cyclists are everywhere these days.
Whenever anyone tells you that cycling just won't work in your city because of a lack of tradition, cultural barriers, heavy motor traffic or some other BS, just point out the example of Paris. It can be done.
I'm eating all your Paris information up. So excited for my trip there in a couple of weeks! These photos make me much more comfortable at the idea of riding a bike in a foreign city. Looks like they're really serious about making bicycling safety, at least for a city outside of Northern Europe. I look forward to seeing more from your trip.
Thanks to everywhere for the interesting comments! A report on Velib will of course follow as well. Pictures are already online on flickr...
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