Bike Lane Is Not The Key Point Of Bicycle Friendly

I always ride my bicycle to everywhere I like to go. For sport? adventure? commuting? Yes, yes. yes! Even in business. I took every chance to explore the world, from A to B, noway anyway, by bicycle. It works everywhere with or without bike lanes. I don't mean bike lane is not necessary. It's just not the key point. I hate bike lanes sometimes.

I'll share with my latest cycling trip of Europe for example. I been to London, Paris, and all the way from Amsterdam, Köln, Frankfurt, Stuttgart, Ulm… to Friedrichshafen by bicycle and a trailer. And took the flight from Zurich back to Taiwan. In this 1000+ km and one month's trip, I can see and feel the cycling environment of these cities or countries, some amazing and some surprisingly not so good. But before this, I like to share my point of view of Taiwan's circumstance of bicycle friendly.

Taiwan did construct a lot of bike lanes for years. In my opinion, most of them are failed. It has different purposes, types, surfaces, widths... even in the same city. The worst is they hardly connect to each others. Some popular bike lanes are in the remote area. People may use it as recreation. But it's not easy to ride to there from home. Some might use car to carry their bicycles, some might just rent it there. Expensive to build, hard to maintain, not always good to be ride on it... Most of all, it didn’t encourage people to use bicycle more, instead of car driving which is not good for environment, for health, for your pocket and local economic also.

The good thing is, it slowly changes to the right way. More bike lanes are focus on commuting. Taipei have high quality public bike system now, the U-bike. And city government like to promote bicycle friendly as their important policy. Now, I like to back to my cycling journey in Europe.

I been to London twice before. I rode my bike for two days holiday this time. London is famous for it's congestion. People think it's not easy to cycling around. But I don't feel that way. It might be narrow and crowded. But you're not alone. There is more and more people ride their bikes to everywhere in London. They have Cycle Superhighways and successful public bikes too.

I think it's very expensive to take subway which they called Tube as main commuting way. And we confronted tube strike when in London this time. It simply push more people to change to anther way. Most of them will ride their bicycles or rent the public bikes instead. I think London might not among the most bicycle friendly cites right now. It's still easy to move your self by bikes where ever you like to go. But beware to lock your bikes carefully.

Paris changed a lot when they launched Velib public bikes system in 2007. We might put it this way, the Velib dragged Paris becoming cycle friendly successfully. Because it encourage big quantity Velib users along the streets promptly. Every Paris residents or tourists just set aside space for bikes and enjoy taking a part in.

It's more easy to cycle around in Paris than in London. I can ride my bike through the bottom of La Tour Eiffel, to the Musée du Louvre. Or chill out in the round seat of Pout-Neuf with my bike. Maybe it's the other side of romance, Paris don't smell good most of the time. If you can take it, sure you'll all fine while cycling in Paris.

When I asked my partner this trip, "which city you like most ?" He said, "Amsterdam, because girls are pretty". I bet it is. Especially the "Cycle Chic" all along the streets of Amsterdam. They dress in style no matter on bicycle or not. They won the most bicycle friendly city in the world. But lost their title in 2015 by some evaluation. It's sure privileged to cycle around in Amsterdam. It always has priority to cars/motors with or without bicycle lanes. And people get used to it.

But there's one thing I like to note. Which is some bike lanes allow motorbikes in. They do have speed-limit of 25 km. But it seems no one care about that. What I saw there is most of the motorbikes were all over speed, they pass cyclist casually, noisy and smell bad. We felt uncomfortable when they passed by or squeezed in. My friend’s wife even been hit and injury by motorbike in the bike lane. Maybe it's the reason why they lost the title of best bicycle friendly city.

We spent most of our time in cycling through Germany. From north to south, city to city, river to river. We took streets in the city, cycle path/road in between. I must say, it's not always smooth and pleasant. For a major city like Köln, Frankfurt, it's no problem to get around by bicycle. Even the tourist city like Ulm, Lindau, Friedrichshafen are OK too.

But it's not very easy to cycling intercity. If you take road system, sometimes it would become Super High Way and without bike lane in the sideway. Or you have to change to the other side frequently. If you take the cycle path, would lost your way somewhere definitely. It's hard to trace the twist and varies routes for the first time. Even though you had Cycle Map in hand.

I enjoyed some bicycle paths for it's beautiful scenery and quiet atmosphere. Still, I hate to run the up and down curb in the crossroads. I know it's for cyclist's safety, but it just waste more energy and time of cyclist. It looks like punishment, not the reward. So I like to cycling on road as possible. And I don't have problem among all the cities I been mostly.

I think the key point of bicycle friendly is, all the road users familiar with and respect each others. Sometimes bike lane or independent lane just tear us apart and make people ignore each others. It turns "ride with traffic" into "ride against traffic". Every lane is cycle lane, every street is bicycle friendly. That's what I hope.