Friday, December 23, 2016

Back to Karl Drais and how would he crack the problem of motorised traffic clogging city streets?

We both have an annual regional season ticket from our regional transport authority. There is a bus stop around the corner that during the week offers a service every quarter of an hour until 20:00 to the light rail service into Heidelberg, Mannheim and Weinheim. The bus service is half hourly at weekends. It's not perfect. The buses follow a circuitous route and the connection time to the light rail service is often a minute which can mean waiting ten, twenty or thirty minutes for the next tram if the bus is delayed in traffic. There is also an hourly free pre-bookable taxi service in the evening when the buses stop running, but the light railway offers a half hourly service. This means we might need to wait in Mannheim for an extra half hour. What this means is that if we are going to Mannheim on a Sunday or will be returning after 20:00, we take the car to the local shopping centre/mall ten minutes away by and park it there. The centre features a cinema and so there is no move to offer time limited parking on the British pattern. The snag is that if we just drive the car for ten minutes, its fuel consumption is higher than when it is warm and its exhaust gases are dirtier. 
What we could do is cycle to the shopping centre. We often do when we are shopping. There are bike racks available. There is a snag though. If a bike is left at the tram stop for a few hours there is a chance that some misguided individual will try to steal it or just jump on it to reduce to a pile of scrap. One idea that would improve matters would be lockable bike storage boxes. They need not be free. Put a few of these near every park and ride facility and more of us would cycle to the railway lines. This is not utopian or even rocket science. Some of the S-Bahn (suburban railway stations) in Rhineland Palatinate have banks of these boxes.

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