Dilemmas

Cyclists in the city          


Cyclists in the city

Conflicts seem to be inevitable between cyclists and other road users in cities, whether motorists or pedestrians. With more and more people able to afford good-quality bicycles, there are many more cyclists on the city streets, some of them riding at high speeds. According to the road traffic rules, cyclists are obliged to use bike lanes where they exist and to keep close to the curb when riding on the road. They are permitted to use pavements where there is no other safe option — but without hindering or obstructing other traffic participants. As there are scarcely any bike lanes in the city, many cyclists are choosing to ride on the pavements rather than on the roads, which they perceive as dangerous.

Discuss the conflicts and the possible solutions, as well as the opinions of the various parties. Present your own point of view. How do you think the problem can be solved?

Negative

Conflicting interests
  • Frequent pavement junctions are an inconvenience to cyclists, who often break the traffic rules by not dismounting at crossings, for example. It is difficult for cyclists to share pavements with pedestrians, who are unpredictable and pay little attention to sound signals. Collisions between cyclists and pedestrians are therefore extremely likely.
  • Pedestrians regard pavements as their exclusive domain. Many of them complain about the presence of cyclists and refuse to accommodate their needs. Children and elderly people may be scared, or even endangered, by fast-moving bicycles.
  • Car drivers may also have negative attitudes towards cyclists and resent their presence on the roads.
Positive

Possible solutions
  • Additional segregated cycle lanes should be constructed.
  • Traffic rules should be changed in favour of cyclists (allowing them to use pedestrian crossings without dismounting, for example).
  • Awareness-raising campaigns should be conducted among pedestrians and motorists to improve their attitudes towards cycling and cyclists.
  • Speed limits should be imposed on cyclists who ride on the pavements.
  • Cycling licences should be issued to cyclists, who should be tested on their knowledge of traffic rules.
  • Resources should be invested to make it safer to cycle on the roads.

Varying viewpoints


Local authorities
Local authorities are often unwilling to address the needs of cyclists, as building segregated bicycle lanes and installing cycle-friendly signage and signalling requires substantial financial investment.

Business sector
Road service companies have no interest in constructing a large number of bicycle lanes. In their view, the cost of the materials and labour is not justified by the numbers of cyclists who will benefit from the improved infrastructure.

Citizens
Some pedestrians are sympathetic to the needs of cyclists, while others are bitter about the perceived threat they pose. Most pedestrians believe that it is better for both groups if cyclists use lanes that are fully segregated from pedestrian pavements.

Car owners
The majority of drivers are opposed to cycle lanes on the roads. They are unhappy about sharing road space on narrow streets and regard slower-moving cyclists as a hazard.

Cyclists
Cyclists are justified in asserting their rights. A bicycle is an ecologically clean mode of transport that requires no fuel and no large parking areas. Those who cycle regularly also tend to keep fit, lowering their health-care costs and improving their work efficiency.