Wednesday, November 07, 2012

They know it's a busy street

Today I read an interesting-ish article in the local newspaper. The article was about how one street south of the river was getting congested and dangerous when the rush hour hits. The street is marked with the black dots below, and that's where I tried to get video. My crappy camera kept being crappy and kept shutting down so I only got two short clips before I called it quits and just rode home.

Anyway, bottom left is the downtown of Oulu, as you can see by the grid streets. The yellow roads are bigger streets and the green road in the middle is the former Europa 4 highway going all the way to Spain. Now it's just Highway 4. Visible in the picture are the 4 bridges crossing the river.

Someone coming downtown from the suburbs in the east or northeast is very likely to use the yellow roads. And on this problematic road or nearby there are also a lot of destinations  for pedestrians and cyclists: a couple of schools ranging from primary to vocational schools. And I'd guess about half of them are on the wrong side of the street so people will be crossing the road. And as the road goes west-east it's also a barrier for anyone cycling to school or work in the north-south or south-north direction. So there's also a lot of cycle traffic. Just above the black dots you'll see a thin line crossing the river: that is the dam bridge. A lot of people use it to get across the river instead of the yellow roads. And there is also a lot of other thin white lines: they're bikeways. You could actually avoid the problematic spot by riding on the bikeways next to the river, but that would make the journey longer.

In the article they wrote about how there was a lot of car traffic just going through, and to the schools in the area. They wrote about jaywalking and pedestrians and cyclists not having reflectors and/or lights. They wrote how parents bring the smaller kids to school as the traffic is so heavy, but did they mention that the school run is part of the problem? I don't think so.

To make things worse, there's also construction going on in the area. Even one of the schools is actually closed for repairs. The kids come to the school in the morning, but they're taken to another school by buses. So there's a few school buses waiting on the street. And HGVs and lorries might be bringing deliveries to the construction sites or they just had to park some big machines in the street. And so they had to block the sidewalk.

Some "road safety organization" expert is moaning that many cyclists do not cross the road to ride on the MUP on the other side of the road as the signs suggest they do. Instead they opt to riding on the street. The law says they "usually" should use the MUP, but when it's on the wrong side of the street I don't think you'll get a ticket very easily for riding on the street. Especially for a short stretch like this.

What makes me laugh at his comments is the earlier part of the article, where they talk about pedestrians trying to get across the road at zebras and waiting and waiting for a gap in the traffic. In busy rush hour traffic, that wait might be a long one.

At first they write about how hard it is to get across the road, and then they want cyclists to cross the street twice (if their destination is on the same side as they were originally). Well, I suppose the safety expert guy didn't know what was going to be written just above his comments.

Does the road at the end of the video look wide enough to have a protected on-street bikeway? It certainly looks like it to me. So why did they do this "cross the street twice" nonsense?

Maybe they want to park the HGVs right next to the construction site. Maybe they need huge machines to blow holes in to the wall of the building so they need access every day and it's just not possible. Maybe they didn't know better.

But I'm feeling charitable today so I say I think the real reason is they know winter is coming. Making an on-street bikeway around the site is easy, but how do you it gritted and plowed? After all, this isn't Amsterdam!

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