Should keeping bike lanes clear have priority over cars? (Survey)

Toronto vs copenhagen
CC BY 2.0 Toronto vs Copenhagen/ Lloyd Alter

Earlier this year I complained that where I live, the bike lanes are where you put the construction trailers and equipment, often for months on end; the idea that the bike lane might be maintained and that cars might have to give up some space would not be considered here. I compared it to Copenhagen, where I saw expensive and extensive accommodations for cyclists, often at the expense of lanes for cars.


Now Mikael Colville-Andersen of Copenhagenize points to an earlier post on his site that explains why this is the case:

In Copenhagen, there are rules that apply to our bicycle network during situations with roadworks or construction. The City prioritises the bicycle traffic wherever possible in such situations. It doesn't make much sense to build bicycle infrastructure and then not keep it clear. Roads are swept or cleared of snow, as are sidewalks. The same applies to bicycle lanes and tracks. The bicycles must roll on. In a city with such high levels of bicycle traffic, restricting their movement would be expensive.

It is one of those things that indicate whether or not a city takes cycling seriously. In cities where every bike lane is considered part of the "war on the car", where every dollar spent on anything other than fixing roads is considered a frill, They wouldn't think of demanding that construction trailers be built on stilts over the sidewalk so that the bike lane could be maintained. Because bike lanes are just so convenient. Mikael points out that it is a bigger story than just being fair, it is one of those things that has to be done if you are going to encourage people to ride bikes.

At all times, prioritising bicycle traffic is of the utmost importance. A city must send concrete signals that it takes bicycle traffic seriously. Cycling citizens need a city that is reliable in its maintenance and prioritisation of bicycles. If they can count on their infrastructure being taken care of, it will encourage them to ride. If trains, for example, are unreliable, fewer people will use them and look to other modes. The same applies to bicycle traffic. Rain or snow. Roadworks or smooth sailing. 24-7.

It's an interesting point. In a city where there might be 25,000 cyclists on a given street going to work every day, you can see why this really matters. In North American cities, the politicians would say that a) cars have priority and b) putting offices on stilts and putting in all these barriers costs money and they don't have it. On the other hand, as Mikael notes, lousy infrastructure discourages ridership. What do you think?


Tags: Bike-Friendly World | Bikes | Copenhagen

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