Friday, February 21, 2014

Putting yourself and a bike on a long distance bus in Britain, Germany and the rest of Europe

We have written before about travel by long-distance bus in Germany. The bus market in Germany has blossomed since last year when the restrictions on long-distance bus routes designed in the 1930s to protect the railways were removed. Some bus companies offer bicycle transport. The website offers information about bus routes and bicycle transport. It is in German and English and easy to use.

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Cinema for the ears on Bavarian cycle routes

We came across an excellent idea at the tourist exhibition in Stuttgart. A regional tourist organisation in Bavaria has set up a series of points on some cycle routes where visitors can tune into an iPod type broadcast on local features ( Visitors use an app on their own mobile/cell phone or on a hired iPod to listen to a short documentary on, e.g. the meteor collision that formed the giant crater around Nördlingen, N of Augsburg. Unfortunately these broadcasts are only in German and in dialect at that. They are not much use to non German speakers. This idea could however be adopted in the UK in the Lake District, for example, with talks on Beatrix Potter, Wordsworth, Thirlmere and Arthur Ransome.

Saturday, February 08, 2014

Fahrradstraßen (Bicycle Roads) in Baden Württemberg

The Arbeitsgemeinschaft Fahrradfreundlicher Kommunen in Baden Württemberg (AGFK BW) - Working Party for Cyclist Friendly Communities in Baden Württemberg is, as its name suggests an organisation dedicated to improving cycling facilities in the province. Our previous blog reported on the trend towards painted bike lanes rather than building bike paths. This week I picked up a flyer from the organisation about Fahrradstraßen (Bicycle Roads). This is another cheap approach. The community defines a road as a Fahrradstraße - Bicycle Road, brings in a 30kph speed limit, puts up a few signs and that's that. In theory cyclists have priority and motorists drive more slowly with more consideration for cyclists.  Cyclists can cycle side by side. If they then block motorists the motorists slow right down (in theory).
I sometimes wonder whether politicians and traffic planners live in the real world. We have a Fahrradstraße in our town running from a few 100m away to the local shopping centre/mall. We have never tried to cycle two abreast. Much of the road has priority over side streets. Motorists drive faster. It strikes us as being just about as safe and convenient as the minor roads in the town. When we are cycling to the local shopping centre/mall we often cycle along a wider, busier road. It is quicker and as safe.
Maybe matters are different in Baden Württemberg. I read recently that the AGFK BW has publicity material about Fahrradstraßen including leaflets to hang on car doors. This can be distributed locally. Our Fahrradstraße is about 20 years old and people forget. We suspect it is necessary to have a campaign every few years to remind folk what the signs are there for or to tell them if they are newcomers.

Sunday, February 02, 2014

Cycleways are too expensive in Baden Württemberg

Baden Württemberg is the big square German province in the SW of the country. It was ruled by the conservative CDU since 1960 and so it was a major surprise when the Green Party and the SPD obtained enough seats to oust the CDU two years ago. The election results were good news for cyclists in the SW of Germany. The new government promised better public transport and more cycleways. The government is attempting to set up a cycling strategy to encourage cycling in the province. At present the government is asking cyclists what they think - in online surveys, in interviews at exhibitions, in workshops - and how matters could be improved.
One result that has already been announced is that it is unlikely that new cycleways will be built. Instead urban roads, restricted to 50km/h  will be narrowed by the addition of a painted strip along the edge of the road. It is claimed by a group of cyclist friendly communities in the province that the narrower roads lead to slower speeds and motorists take more care in overtaking.

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