19 February 2009

Winter Bicycle Lanes in Copenhagen

Colourful Hat
It's been snowing for a few days now and all day today the city has been continually dusted with snow.

The bike lane snowploughs have been working overtime. You can hear them drone past late at night and they continue through the day. A fleet of small tractors are assisting them in keeping the bike lanes clear and salted.

On the high usage routes the snowploughs run in pairs, one off to the right and the one behind off to the left, in order to clear the whole width of the bike lane. On routes with lesser traffic, like the photo above, the snowploughs just clear an even path through the snow to accomodate the cyclists. Then they head off to help out on the main routes.

Quite the logistical challenge, but it seems to run like clockwork. The mere fact that a few hundred thousands bicycles move around the city each day helps keep the bike lanes clear, too.

People are cycling a bit slower, but it's not that noticeable. Cycling straight in the snow requires little change of style. Cornering requires concentration, but the past few days I haven't seen anybody slip or slide or wobble, let alone anyone falling off. Experience pays off, as does the advantage of cycling in large crowds, where the flock adjusts the speed and increases awareness - in concerto.

Actually I find the sound of bike lane snowploughs outside my window to be a perfect weather report. I live on a street with a medium level of cyclists - about 10,000 a day - so it's a street that is salted first. If we hear the snowploughs drive past, it usually means that snow is on the way.

Nothing to do with bikes but I just saw on the news that in the suburban sprawl the rubbish collectors aren't bothering picking up the rubbish if you don't clear the snow off your sidewalks and driveways. Guess that's pretty universal.