European Cyclists’ Federation sprijină protestul de mâine

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Cu gândul că poate destupăm minţile celor din primărie vizavi de gogomănia cu pistele pe trotuar, am am sunat la European Cyclists’ Federation să ne spună de ce nu e bine cum vrea să procedeze municipalitatea noastră. Iată ce ne-a răspuns Adam Bodor, director EuroVelo.

Dear Mr Popan,

Thank you very much for your email informing us about the situation in Bucharest regarding cycling infrastructure. We appreciate all efforts to provide better conditions for cycling, and cycling infrastructure is one of the most important (but not the only) component for developing a cycling friendly city. The decision about the right cycling infrastructure should be based on the appropriate national/EU standards (if they exist) and prepared by experts. Decision makers should always listen to the representatives of the users (pedestrians, cyclists, car drivers etc.). There are always conflicts between different user groups and compromises will always be necessary, however in order to work towards a more sustainable, more liveable, more successful city, decision makers should set clear priorities. If the wellbeing and health of the citizen is important for the mayor of a city the first priority should be walking, cycling and public transport! This should be the clear message and instructions from decision makers, for the planners and the professionals to redesign the whole available space on the streets of our cities according to these priorities.

If the above principles are accepted then we have to think about how to reorganize our urban city centres (usually high population density, frequent road crossings, limited space). It then also becomes clear that the shared cycling/pedestrian spaces are often not the right solution. This is true particularly in relation to sidewalks which are designed and frequently used by pedestrians, and simply placing the cyclists on these sidewalks can often raise conflicts between cyclists and pedestrians and limits the space available to them instead of giving them priority. However placing cyclists on sidewalks in city centres also increases the risk of collisions between cyclists and motorized vehicles, because they meet unexpectedly (unexpected speed, directions) when re-entering the road. Junctions in general are a major point of cycling/motor vehicle crashes, but a major contributor to these figures are when a cyclist joins the road from the sidewalk. By placing the cyclist on the roads you can avoid all these negative impacts and benefit from the increased level of cycling. However that being the case it is essential to take road safety measures to deal with their increased interaction, for example applying speed and/or traffic reduction measures, calming traffic and separating cyclists and motor vehicles where traffic volumes and speed cannot be reduced. There are many tools that have been developed for dealing with these interactions, and implementing them has been shown to bring a great deal more financial benefits than the original costs.

To be fair we should also mention that placing the cyclists on the road can sometimes decrease the space and capacity for motorized vehicles, but the summary capacity of the roads will increase (because cyclists take up less space and use the space they do have more effectively). The (maybe necessary) loss of a few car parking slots may well be unpopular in the eyes of a few citizens but the satisfied mass of pedestrians, cyclists, car drivers and also those who actually live in these areas will be thankful for enjoying a safer and calmer environment. The loss of these parking spaces and reduced traffic has also been shown to bring a boom to local shops and business along the side of the road. Happy citizens and booming business, what else could an elected representative wish for?

We highly recommend that the leaders of the city rethink their priorities and take the right decision. It`s already happening, not only Copenhagen and Amsterdam, but in Berlin, London, Paris or even in New York. The mayors of these capitals are already convinced of this and the overwhelming majority of citizens are satisfied with the results. Bucharest is no different; your citizens are looking for a liveable city as well. If the leaders of the city want to know more about this transformation and how it works we would be honoured to welcome them to Vienna, where we organize the world’s biggest and best urban cycling conference Velo-city in 2013 June. They can meet there with those city leaders and experts who are ringing the changes all over the world.

I wish you a lot of success with your actions to convince your decision makers.