Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Dumb Helsinki cycle paths #2


This interesting signage is on the east side of Pasila train station, Helsinki's second major train station, and the northern city centre transport hub. The signs show quite clearly that the cycle path system isn't a system as such, but rather a collection of good intentions never clearly thought out from the users' perspectives.

In many places cyclists and pedestrians share the same pavement but a large, solid white line (often half faded away) theoretically seperates them - this is what the sign on the left in the photo means. Cyclists should follow the rules of the 'road' (i.e. riding on the right) on their half of the pavement. Of course kids, dogs, drunks, idiots and simply the absent minded forget about the line and wander from the pedestrian side into the cycle lane. In other places the line is so worn out, people who don't know that street can genuinely say they didn't realise, an old lady was walking along the cycle path just before I took this photo - where the line was no longer visible.

Yet in many other places, pedestrians and cyclists moving in the same direction are meant to share the lane on their right. Here a broken line marks the middle and this is what the sign on right in the photo means. After well over 10,000 kms ridden on Helsinki bike paths, I still have no idea why these two completely contrary systems exist, and whether there is any logic to what system goes where. I'm pretty certain there is no logic at all and it was left to the whims of which ever urban planner was dealing with that stretch of road. This is of course utterly confusing to bikers and walkers and leads constantly to dangerous situations.

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