We get pretty wrapped up here in Ottawa about the life and death of the universe, also known as the Laurier separated bike lanes (SBL).
Really, it’s worthwhile sometimes to go back and look at other cities, a bit further away, and see what other cultures are up to. Of course, our biggest models have been NYC and The Netherlands/Denmark, with guest appearances from Portland and few other places.
A reader has returned from China, and sent me these pic on SBL’s there. [Many thanks to R for the pictures and some descriptions in the accompanying email]. They surprised me a bit, since I have fallen for the all-too-common main stream media story line about rapid urbanization, the switch to freeways and private cars, and the incredibly rapid development of metro’s in many cities. Still, automobiles have the same urban problems in China as we have discovered, but at their rapid pace of development it has taken just a decade or so to come to regret urban automobile pollution, albeit probably unstoppably popular (just like here). People do like their cars.
First, from Shanghai here are some SBL’s on some busy residential area streets. Rather than “bicycle freeways” or “cycling superhighways” these are intended for local transport to work, social clubs, neighbours, shopping, and all those utilitarian trips. As such some sections have ready access to adjacent business and residential addresses. They are also used to cycle to the underground metro stops. As the pictures show, China is trying several models of SBL.
As always, you can double click on a picture to enlarge it to see more detail.
While there is some greenery, make no mistake the Shanghai air is totally foul, and cyclists are to some degree engaged in slow-motion suicide by poisoning. Many cyclists in Ottawa would no doubt love to try some of these layouts (other than the dedicated vehicular cyclists who yearn to play with the big trucks and buses, provided they are speeding). What would Albert Street going through the Flats be like if it had a generous separated bike lane with trees at 16′ centres on both sides? And the environment for motorists and pedestrians would be way better than it is now, too.
Moving over now, to Zhengzhou, aka Hangzhou, here are two shots of their bike rental system in operation.