Tuesday, July 31, 2012

I was an urban planner in a former life

 So when I recently was apologized to by a pedestrian who was about to step into the bike lane, it hit me hard that soon I will no longer be in super bike-friendly Berlin biking... In the US, I think it's pretty common to get cut off by cars, or yelled at when you're on your bike. You have to be on your toes because drivers are not used to seeing you, and they are in general impatient and in a rush (which also says something about our culture in general), not to mention on their phones. But I will admit there can be stupid and reckless bikers just like there can be stupid and reckless drivers.

It's just so refreshing that biking is the norm here...and you see everyone from 2-yr-olds to 80-year olds do it. Which means that cars are used to waiting for you, and pedestrians are used to staying out of bike lanes. (As the author pointed out in a recent NYT article, in Demark biking is the most popular form of transportation because it is also the fastest. Same here, I think. Definitely faster than the U-Bahn in most cases.)

By the way, Minneapolis MN is rated the #1 bike-friendly city in the US (by Bicycling magazine), followed by Portland, Boulder, Seattle, and Eugene. Madison is #7 and Ann Arbor is #14.  And Minnesota is ranked the second-most bike friendly state.
check out this nice bike lane

bike parking
 And now...this intersection always amazes me (below). Every time I cross it. There is a very nice bike lane for bikers making a left turn that then goes up onto the sidewalk. It's beautiful, and so well-marked, and I am in awe of the urban planners who figured this out.
So amazed, that I went on Google maps to find an overhead view of it:
Look at that planning. See how the bike lane separates from the right side of the road about half a block back? So cars turning right don't cut off the bikers? Super smart.
And one more example from google maps, check out the lines on German intersections. You have the bike lanes, the pedestrian crosswalks, and the car lanes. The traffic lights are on the same side of the street, so cars have to back way up for pedestrians (this is also a city with more pedestrian traffic than most American cities). Also, no right turns on red. That way, you cut off too many pedestrians and bikers. I am well aware that we have less pedestrian/bike traffic in the US, and so the right-turn-on-red thing makes more sense. But really? Are those 20 seconds going to change your life?
Oops this post got really long...I feel rather strongly about it...if you can't tell. :) Next time you're passing a biker, give them 3 feet space, take a deep breath...

1 comment:

  1. Tante MargueriteJuly 31, 2012 at 2:04 PM

    Ein andere Welt!!! UND Geistesverfassung!!!!!! überdies Gesundheit!!!!