Wednesday, June 20, 2012


Though I only got to ride between station and hotel, and then a short walk, I did get a few photos and a bit of the flavour of a small piece of Paris.  Two things are striking – the high level of bell use, and the use of Velib (public bikes). 

Paris traffic always seems totally chaotic.  Lanes are the number of cars that can fit across, dependent on the ingenuity of the drivers at the time.  Intersections and pedestrian crossings are best queued across, because you never know when you might get the chance to move forward a few feet.  Any piece of footpath not totally blocked by bollards is a fair place to park, even if it is on a pedestrian crossing.  But in the chaos is a safety, from an anticipation of, and tolerance of, the unexpected.  It looks far from inviting, but works out fine on a bike, especially because it is all slow moving.  Plus, there are regularly bike facilities that make on a bike by far the best place to be.

So how have they achieved frequent bell use, I hear you ask?  The design of the cycleways I saw puts riders in conflict with pedestrians at every intersection, so people get used to using, and listening for, bells as a result.
At every intersection the cycleway conflicts with pedestrians waiting to cross, in a small area

And people get used to it - and bell ringing

About half the riders I saw were on Velibs – a fairly constant little stream of riders on a busy road with no bike facilities, all looking casual and undeterred. 

As elsewhere in Europe, providing for two way bike traffic on one way streets is commonplace.
Separated contra-flow on an arterial road

The common "bicycles excepted", sometimes with linemarking at the ends

And reminder logos along the way
Expect bikes both ways

There are bicycle crossings alongside pedestrian crossings, both signalised where the green man seems to apply to both, and unsignalised.  Why are bicycle crossings so hard in Australia?

The hatched green is new to me, and also used in other conflict points such as where a right turn lane opens up beside a bike lane

And there are on street bike parking corrals without too much fuss.

I love exploring the streets of Paris.  Through grotty, at each turn you may see yet another amazing building or monument.

Freiburg is up next - what an eye opener!


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