24 September 2009

Two Way Street

I've been meaning to snap a photo of this for ages, every time I'm at the airport. It's one of of the few examples of streetside two-way bicycle lanes in Copenhagen.

For the most part the City of Copenhagen realised many years ago that cyclists are like any other homo sapiens. They want to go from A to B quickly. Therefore the network was developed to include the standard of bike lanes on both sides of streets.

Out at Copenhagen airport it's a bit different. The airport is about a 30-40 minute bike ride from the centre of the city and the bike racks are usually rather filled up, most likely with airport employee bicycles, even though you can get to the airport by bus, train and metro.

On this stretch, pictured, there are two-way lanes along one side of the street. The numbers of bicycles are lower here, but there is a lot of traffic so lanes are important.

In the intersection in the background there is a stretch of classic Copenhagen blue where cars exit and enter the Hilton Hotel parking lot.

In addition, you can see how many bus stops work in Copenhagen. If there is a 'bus island' separate from the sidewalk, the bicycles are given the right of way. Passengers alighting or disembarking the busses step onto the island and wait for any bicycles to pass. It's a popular feature throughout the city but illustrated well in this photo.

If there is no bus island, then bicycles have to stop for bus passengers.

Sorry for the lack of posts. I've been in Budapest at a conference the past few days, as well as their Critical Mass. More on that later.


Anonymous said...

Welcome back. We missed the steady stream of intellectual provocation and await Budapestian bike shots eagerly. Sue's day of trial creeps closer. Mike .

Peter said...

Well, putting 1-way bike lanes on both sides of the street is also for safety. Copenhagen engineers noted early on (I'll see if I can dig out the study) that car/bike collisions are higher at intersections when you have two-way bike traffic on one side of the street. Most likely because car drivers are only looking for bike traffic coming from one direction.

But my guess is that there are few intersections out to the airport so it doesn't matter.

Do they have long-term secure parking for bikes at the airport? In my area, that has deterred me from using my bike to get to our airport.


Anonymous said...

It looks great! At the top of the picture, the entry/exit area for the hotel: is the blue surface just to remind drivers that they're about to cross the cycle path, or does it mean that bikes have priority?
- WeeE

Taliesin said...

After discussing two way cycle paths parallel to roads with a hard core vehicular cyclists, I've formed the point of view that they're rarely a good idea. Unless they only cross side roads and driveways rarely, and these crossings are signalled with cyclists getting a fare go from the signals. This looks nice, but how safe is is really?

Mikael said...

vehicular cyclists? i suggest you don't take that male-dominated, testosterone-driven unproven theory too seriously.

how safe is it really? safe enough for half a million people to feel safe enough to cycle every day.

men, women, children, the elderly. etc etc etc.

Anonymous said...

"vehicular cyclists? i suggest you don't take that male-dominated, testosterone-driven unproven theory too seriously."

I think that's a bit too dismissive. I'm sure you're aware that, for example, in a more cyclist-hostile country like the UK, many cyclists find John Franklin's Cyclecraft book extremely helpful in negotiating difficult streets and poorly designed facilities. Much of the advice in that book is consistent with VC practice, though it leaves out the ideology.

I suspect it's the John Forester school you have issue with. To be fair, I find his categorical dismissal of all facilities hard to take. But glib dismissal of decent techniques for sharing the road is hardly fair either. Sometimes you have no choice but to share the road, and it's good to have these techniques.

Peter said...

Copenhagen did a very good study that came out last year looking at accident changes before and after facilities went in.

Surprisingly (or not, if you are a vehicular cyclist), ALL the facilities increased the bicycle accident rate over the unimproved streets, but the facilities were still appreciated by bicyclists. So even though the numbers of bicyclists using a street went up after the facility went in, the accident rate increased more than the number of bicyclists, sometimes a LOT more.

The worst were the separated paths similar to this airport line ( not necessarily bi-directional). The number of bike/pedestrian collisions increased astronomically at places where buses or streetcars discharged passengers, and intersection collisions between bicycles and cars shot way up as well.

So this has nothing to do with whether or not you are a vehicular cyclist, and a lot to do with basic traffic engineering principles.

As I said, you an probably get away with a bi-directional sidepath like this if there are very few intersections, which I suspect might be the case outside of town near the airport.

townmouse said...

Peter - do you have a link to this study? Does it still hold, or was the increase in accidents a temporary effect just when the lanes are put in? I'd be interested to know because my understanding is that Copenhagen accident rates (per km travelled) are pretty low, compared with other cities like London, so if they've 'shot up' they must have been microscopic before then. Or is there carnage on the streets and bike paths of Copenhagen which Mikael's just not telling us about?

townmouse said...

Hang on - I think I found it. Is that the one you meant? According to the conclusion, taken all together, accident rates went up 9-10%, while cycling rates went up 18-20% - although how serious the accidents and injuries considered were, I don't know.

Mikael said...

that's the one. what people never mention is what has happened since that study.

it was commissioned in order to find out the numbers and, in best copenhagen fashion, react accordingly.

most of the intiatives have been written up on this blog.

that one study is quoted with glee by vehicular cyclists. unfortunately they don't tell the whole story.

And the exaggeration doesn't serve the debate.

"the accident rate increased more than the number of bicyclists, sometimes a LOT more."

No it didn't.

"...increased astronomically at places where buses or streetcars discharged passengers, and intersection collisions between bicycles and cars shot way up as well.

astronomically? shot up? streetcars? (we don't have streetcars)

The report is a sober one that has launched a thousand ships of improvement. Hysterical exaggerations are unecessary.

With cities all over the planet building bicycle infrastructure, I can understand why the VCs are getting worried and a little hysterical. :-)

Peter said...

Townmouse - the 9-10% was for ALL users. For cyclists, the accidents went up 23% on cycletracks and the injuries higher.

Also, the study implies that these numbers are "rates", not absolute numbers. So the values are normalized by the number of users. They say elsewhere that a regression analysis method is used to show the true change in safety, taking into account changes in number of cars, etc.

However, I'm not positive because the language is sloppy. A friend is translating the source studies from Danish to see if we can tell if these are absolute numbers or rates.

Reading the whole paper I referenced certainly implies these are rates and not absolute numbers.

Peter said...

Michael, it's your blog and you can do what you want, but you removed my post where I went over the cycletrack part of the study carefully, and IMHO, objectively, trying to be fair.

I even mentioned that cycling is much safer in Copenhagen than London or the USA.

I was incorrect about streetcars (projecting my area to Copenhagen) when I meant just buses. But the accident numbers between bicyclists and bus passengers DID shoot up astronomically on cycletracks - 1700%.

Green Idea Factory said...

Mikael, did you fly from Budapest to Copenhagen? OK, I would also be in a rush to see my family, but consider how much work you could have done on the train :-)

My foreword for all given opinions about infrastructure design is: Private cars have no place in the city, with traditional taxis and carshare cars fine for a transitional phase.

As far as vehicular cycling goes, I like the option of doing it in Berlin - it's not allowed in many other parts of Germany - because on many big streets here the separated paths are narrow and in poor condition. (I won't even talk about peds who get in the way because many of these paths are in former pedestrian space.) Still, they are certainly better than nothing for slower cyclists, who are justifiably scared to ride with cars.

If there is mode separation, I think it is good to give weight - no pun intended - based on speed, as the difference between many cyclists and the pedestrians on these functionally-shared pavements is still too high: As a cheap fix, I would like to see fast cyclists encouraged to use the "car part" of the street. This happens on some streets here (i.e. a bike-, public transport- and taxi-only right lane, but not enough, perhaps only on streets with three lanes in the same direction). This would help the pedestrian space, even if the separated bike path and car-parking remained. BUT there still needs to be a slow space for cyclists and an even slower one for peds. This is also contrary to "shared space" but that is among other things a stealth programme for preservation of private urban automobile-use.

I realize that I often use this space to complain about Berlin, but I hope people will keep these things I mention in mind if they visit Copenhagen and Berlin on the same trip (about 7.5 hours apart by train... okay, to be fair to Mikael, the best Copenhagen-Budapest connection is about 22 hours, though about half of it is on the nice night train through Munich).