Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Shared-use paths stink!

Although it seems that crap weather has driven most of Bp's cyclists back to wherever they came from, this coming week -- at least officially -- is a week to celebrate cycling and all other non-car modes of transport. The main events will happen this weekend (Sept 20-21) with booths and activities set up on Andrássy út for Mobility Week.

Of course, there's Critical Mass on Monday, Sept. 22. But as a teaser to that, some demonstrator types are getting together tomorrow (Sept. 17 from 6 p.m.) to form a bicycle chain on the Buda korzó between Batthyanyi ter and the Chain Bridge. Check the Hungarian announcement.

The point is to protest shared-use paths as a dangerous and inconvenient type of bicycle infrastructure. It's been estimated that at least two thirds of Budapest's bicycle infrastructure are this kind of path -- where cyclists and pedestrians (and baby strollers, roller bladers, dogs, ferrets, etc.) vie for the same space, and end up getting to their destinations late and full of contempt for one another.

This is the main drawback with Budapest cycling infrastructure, and the Buda korzó, which is popular with both weekend strollers and speeding cyclists, is a prime example of why shared-use paths don't work.


Christoph said...

Actually, they work quite well in Germany. Probably because people are teached about their meaning, they are painted on full length in red to be easily recognized and there are always enough bikes on them to show which's lane this is... And it's better than nothing like in the rest of the city.

Greg Spencer said...

Hi Christophe,

Actually my grievance with Bp's shared-use paths isn't just that they're shared by different types of users, it's also because they're normally on just one side of the street and for both directions of traffic. They're awkward to use and they take up too much pedestrian space.

I've seen the red bike paths in both Leipzig and Berlin, and they were better. In those cities, bike lanes generally run down both sides of the road, providing tracks for both directions of traffic.

Granted, this solution takes more road space, but Budapest's large thoroughfares (like Bajcsy-Zsilinszky, which was given one of these bad bi-directional shared paths) have plenty of room or them. Naturally, some car space and/or car parking would have to be sacrificed and this is a big political challenge.