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Sunday, 1 March 2015

[Biking:] Risky business on land!

In the well written piece “Gatustrid” (Street fight) in the Swedish morning paper Svenska Dagbladet (Sunday March 1st) E. E. Almqvist writes about how the work to get better conditions for everyday bikers in Stockholm has failed. The article describes how Stockholm’s bike lanes are full of sudden interruptions, a description I as an everyday biker all too well recognizes. There exist many documents describing that Stockholm aims for creating good (and even excellent) conditions for bikers, but the reality is that even new projects are made with zero understanding on how to create safety for bikers.

(With the "risk" of reducing my credibility) My carbon disc single speed cyclocross bike for year-around biking to work. © Hans Liwång 2015.
On my way to work there have been a couple of changes the last years with the ambition to create a “priority bike path”. However it is done with sudden turns (radius 2 meters) were I and other bikers (two-way) are supposed to share a lane less than 2 meters wide. It is also marked out with curb stones immersing the bike lane risking striking down bikers and making it impossible for the snow plows to remove the snow (even the narrow plows don’t fit between the curb stones and therefore leaves 1 dm thick snow very hard to master on a bike).
The article also describes the documentary “Bikes vs Cars” by F. Gertten where normal people, (like me) who have found the bike to be perfect way for transportation, unwillingly have become activists fighting against the car dominated way of modern life.

So, why am I writing about bikes on this blog? It is because I know that if you don’t have an understanding and culture (from planners to builders and operators) for the goals you are trying to achieve (could be bike safety or maritime security) you will fail. You cannot make mistakes. For example a good plan for a bike lane will not make for a good bike lane unless you make every meter of the lane good (you cannot interrupt every 100 meters with a bad solution where the biker has to “fight” her way for ten meters). I bike such bad solutions every day and I have seen such solutions to many times on ships. You can identify the plan, but you see that it was not followed through.
IT IS ABOUT A SHARED RISK AWERENESS FROM decision maker via planner/designer to user!

There are cities that have made it work for bikers, (like Copenhagen) so it is possible. I have also seen good solutions on ships.