I live in Bratislava, the capital of Slovakia. I am an active urban cyclist. And that equals to being a weirdo, here.
Bratislava is one hell of a city hostile to the urban cyclists. It offers few recreational cycling paths by the Danube river and then few more mountain paths, but almost none urban cycling paths allowing one to commute or ride a bike in the city to café or just for that feeling of joy. The best we got is one path leading from nowhere to nowhere, literally.
20 years has passed since the fall of communism and the early capitalism caught us unprepared. Public transport use has reached its all-time low in 2009, people are buying cars hoping for faster and more convenient transportation ending in traffic jams aggressively honking at each other. I deem bicycle transport to be a part of the solution for this.
Bratislava is a city with rather flat terrain except few parts such as the castle hill or Small Carpathians mountains, but most citizens live in the districts that would be easy to interconnect creating an efficient network of cycling paths for everyone to use. Existing preconditions are not ideal, but there are some advantages:
- Large part of Bratislava lies by the Danube river, thus allowing to create bicycle path by the river on both embankments
- City centre has many one-ways that are wide enough to have bike lanes marked
- Some districts have wider roads connecting them to the city centre and usually there is a pedestrian path by these roads that could be used to mark a bike lane (alternatively, smaller parallel roads could be used)
However, the City Mayor Andrej Durkovsky and his city administration continues to blatantly ignore cyclists. For example, there is no requirement to build bike lanes for new developments (yes, Eurovea and RiverPark – I am talking about you!). City Mayor Andrej Durkovsky likes to picture Bratislava as a modern, green and friendly city, but it’s other way round. Bratislava is somewhat modern (do shopping malls and office buildings make it modern?!), but definitely not green or friendly. Lots of parks and green spots have been destroyed or traded for buildings or parking spots. And friendly? Common! How can a city be friendly when it ignores its citizens?
As is well-said elsewhere:
It’s a vicious circle – the more dangerous cycling is perceived to be, the fewer people cycle, more cars on the road – the more cars on the road, the fewer cyclists, and fewer drivers who know how to treat two-wheeled traffic – so cycling becomes more dangerous and fewer people cycle.
But this can work the other way – more people cycle, it becomes more visible – perceived as safer, so more people cycle – higher visibility & more cyclist – more demand for cycle routes, maybe even more drivers learn how to cope with two-wheelers.
Despite the fact marking the bike lanes is quite cheap (most could be made on existing roads or pathways), the City of Bratislava does not make any efforts to create a working system of bicycle paths. Moreover, it doesn’t even have a white paper on the issue (not talking about the proper plans for urban bike lanes).
Since the Mayor Durkovsky is possibly wanking his d1ck over the new developments in his closed-for-the-public office, cyclists’ own initiative is the only way to go in Bratislava. That’s why the first Critical Mass in Bratislava is taking place on April 30, 2010 and that’s why the group called Cykloguerilla has started to mark the bike lanes themselves.
If you have a blog, please spread the word about Bratislava’s Mayor Durkovsky and his bureaucratic company acting hostile to the cyclists.