Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Bremen bikeways: part 1, the Ugly

I know it's supposed to be the Good, the Bad, and then the Ugly, but many of the ugliest sections of the Bremen bike paths are right nearby. In case it isn't apparent by now, the purpose of this posting is to give a good overview of the bikeways in and around Bremen. While much of it will be critical, I will also try to highlight some of the positive aspects of the bicycle transportation network.

First some background (for those unfamiliar): in many parts of N. Europe, especially the Netherlands and N. Germany, bicycles are largely segregated from motor traffic. This is in contrast to much of N. America and the British Isles where the roads are shared. Public opinion is divided as to which system is better, however, there are many activists who believe that the Dutch-style "bikeways" are dangerous and inefficient and are working hard to prevent their creation in countries like Canada and Great Britain. See for instance John Forester's web-page.

Without further ado, here are the pictures:

This is just outside my apartment. It is hard to believe that there is even a bike path here--the sidewalk is quite narrow and always crowded as there are lots of pubs and restaurants along here. As far as I know, cycling on the road is illegal.

This is further along the same route. It is hard to believe how badly designed these are:

Here is another place nearby:

Most of the Bremen bike paths are distinguished by red tiles. Notice the poles separating the path from the road in both these and the previous photos: if you happen to swing a bit wide trying to avoid all the numerous pedestrians (that day was relatively quiet) a collision would be quite painful.

This is the worst of all. Notice that most of the cyclists don't even use the bike path, preferring to swing onto the sidewalk.

This is a very common theme in the Bremen bike paths as the next photo demonstrates. It is hard to see it, but there is a section cut out of the path to provide room for vegetation just as above. It is just as hard to see while riding--better to know ahead of time that it is there.

To see the complete collection so far, visit my flickr page:
Since this post is becoming rather long, I will continue the discussion in subsequent posts. Some description is worthwhile because it is sometimes hard to tell just from the picture exactly what is going on. Even with both words and photographs, you cannot get a complete picture and it is hard to describe how frustrating, inefficient and frequently dangerous cycling through Bremen can be.

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