20 January 2011

Removing One-Ways and Calming Storm Street

Bicycles Excepted
One-Way - Cyclists Excepted

The City of Copenhagen is currently working on some small but important changes on our cityscape that will make things a bit easier for the city's cyclists.

There is a network of one-way streets in the city - both the city centre and the surrounding neighbourhoods - which is mostly directed at motorised traffic. In some instances the one-way restriction applies to bicycles.

Not that it means much. Bicycles regularly follow these desire lines. The City is now tidying up and legitimising bicycle traffic in the opposite direction down one-way streets. This is, of course, the norm in many bicycle-friendly cities.
Vienna Bicycle Signage Praha Bicycles Excepted Paris Narrow
From left: Vienna, Prague, Paris

Here's an excerpt from the City of Copenhagen's press release:

Small sign on the road - big help for cyclists
It's not just bicycle bridges and massive intersection redesign that make the city better for cyclists. Often a simple sign or a small piece of bicycle lane can make things better for cyclists.

Over the next couple of weeks the Traffic Dept. will be putting up new signs and and performing minor changes to the street markings in 10 different spots in the city so it becomes legal to ride down a one-way street.

"It's in the details that we find the key to becoming the world's best bicycle city. Therefore even the smallest changes are important and we have been listening to the city's experts on the subject - the thousands and thousands of Copenhagners who wear their tires thin riding around the city", says Mayor of the Technical and Environmental Department, Bo Asmus Kjeldgaard.

The Traffic dept constantly recieves ideas from cyclists about how the city can become better for bicycle transport. As a result, The City has done an analysis of 50 spots where small changes can make a big difference."

Interestingly, The UK Dept. of Transport is expected to alter their signage rules to allow for this "Cyclists excepted" rule, according to the London Cycling Campaign.

After the intial 10 spots with minor changes, the Traffic Dept. will start work on the larger projects that require more work than alterations of street markings.

Storm Street is Now Calm
Four Vehicles
Stormgade before the infrastructure changes

The City of Copenhagen has also issued a press release regarding what was one of the missing links in the City's bicycle network. The street Stormgade, above, in a rather extreme situation, but hey.

It's a narrow street with quite a lot of traffic but there was previously no separated bicycle lanes on it. Cyclists were forced to ride in traffic on one side and share a bus lane on the other. It isn't a long stretch of street, but it was far from optimal. In fact, according to the City of Copenhagen's "tryghed" index (sense of security), Stormgade had an incredibly low score from the city's cyclists. It was at 3.3 out of ten.

Stormgade in summer, 2010. Photo courtesy of the City of Copenhagen.

Now, at long last, the City has built separated lanes on both sides of the street. As a result, the citizens now give it a 'sense of security' index rating of 7.7. One of the highest ratings in the city. Cyclists now feel safer - and are safer.

Nice one, Copenhagen.

Whenever the City builds new bicycle infrastructure on a stretch of road there is an increase of 20% in the number of cyclists and 10% fewer cars.

The Mayor in charge of the Traffic Dept., Bo Asmus Kjeldgaard says, "It's great to learn that the new bicycle lanes on Stormgade live up to the intentions. Stormgade has for too long been a black mark on our bicycle net. It isn't anymore and cyclists appreciate it because it makes them feel safer. I look forward to the next bicycle counts from the street because I'm sure they will show an increase in cyclists."


Severin said...

I like this post, it reminds me of the kind of stuff you were posting when I first started reading. I and many others, love seeing how Copenhagen is still transforming and supporting bicycles and not simply resting on its laurels.

Green Idea Factory said...

North Americans (and others with wide multi-lane one-way streets) take note: Contra-flow/"legal salmoning" for cycling is, if I may say, perfect for most one-lane, one-way streets. But a better solution for one-way, multi-lane streets is to make them two-ways again (most if not all were at the beginning and - depending on the age of your town - most of their existance). This of course includes the famous avenues in NYC. Here lots of people naturally act as salmon and take the direct way, which goes against the traffic gutterness of these wide streets.

There can be exceptions to the rule, but ideally the default in a town is contraflow on one-ways, with signs to only indicate exceptions (simpler and saves money and clutter).

Another very important thing to remember is that many streets are made one-way in order to make them 1/3 for vehicle movement, 2/3 storage (parking). So then perhaps a choice needs to be made to make them 2/3 for movement - and two-way - and only 1/3 (one side) for storage OR one-way for motor vehicles, two-ways for bikes and possibly 2/3 for storage. I suppose there are further permutations.

Neil said...

I always wonder about things like this. The addition of contra-flow lanes (separate bike lanes going in the opposing direction) is definitely a good idea. But I simply can't imagine feeling safe riding in the same space as cars, but in the opposite direction. Is this what people do when you just put up a sign? It sounds crazy.

kfg said...

"I simply can't imagine feeling safe riding in the same space as cars, but in the opposite direction."

I hear ya, but I'll note that even Forrester is not opposed to this idea ( he says that bikes are vehicles, but does not say that vehicles are cars, as some silly people have taken to doing lately), so long as there are actually two defined and proper lanes to do it in. That makes it simply a two way street.

Do you feel OK riding on two way streets?

If you can put in three lanes you can put both cycle lanes together, with the "car direction" bikes on the outside, shielding the counterflow bike lane.