The tram to Libuš: Street reconstruction has worsened conditions for cycling

Publikováno: 09. září. 2023, 6 min. čtení
Publikováno: 09. září. 2023, 6 min. čtení

At the end of May 2023, Prague completed the tram track to Libuš. This included the reconstruction of the street profile of parts of Novodvorská Street, Generála Šišky Street, and Meteorologická Street. How did it affect the cycling infrastructure? Compared to the original state, there wasn’t much improvement.

Reduced quality of bike lanes

Before the reconstruction, there was a bike lane on Novodvorská Street. However, the reconstruction changed the dedicated bike lane into an advisory, so-called ‚protected‘, lane. Now, larger vehicles are allowed to enter it when having not enough space i ntheir own lane. A dedicated bike lane could have fit in most of Novodvorská Street. Nevertheless, the city didn’t choose this option, mainly because the street narrows due to the tram track crossings in both directions. Here, the bike lane turns into a mere sharrows, and cyclists are forced to share the road with cars.

Regarding the public’s concerns, the city stated: ‚During the discussions, it was decided to use advisory lanes (among other reasons, to reduce vertical road signs), which, considering the overall width of the road, offer cyclists the same level of protection as a dedicated lane.‘

In response to the suggestion of using physical separators after the lane narrows, the city replied: ‚Physical separation is possible, but on Novodvorská Street, cyclists are guided in advisory lanes, not dedicated lanes. Physical separation reduces the flexibility of using the advisory lane as needed and significantly limits road maintenance possibilities (snow removal).‘

Disconnected and narrow bike lanes

In all three reconstructed streets (Novodvorská, Generála Šišky, and Meteorologická), the bike lanes are interrupted to some extent. On Novodvorská Street, it’s due to an island narrowing, while on Meteorologická and Generála Šišky Streets, they couldn’t partially fit into the profile at all.

When exiting the new signalized intersection onto Meteorologická Street, there is a bike lane. However, it’s so narrow (1.3 meters) that some drivers of regular cars are hesitant to overtake cyclists and instead follow behind them slowly until they can switch to the other lane for passing. This design might theoretically work with advisory bike lanes, but in the context of Prague, this philosophy isn’t commonly applied, raising questions about whether it was an intentional aspect of the project.

Intersection of cycling route A214

The only location where the original standard was successfully maintained is at the intersection of Novodvorská Street with cycling route A214. The original separation of pedestrians and cyclists, as well as the bicycle crossing, remained intact here. On the other hand, the horizontal markings on the cycling path have not been restored yet, and the surface has deteriorated; the reconstructed asphalt is uneven.

In response to feedback, the city council declined to remove the sign ‚Cyclists, dismount.‘ at the end of the incomplete cycling path along Novodvorská Street. They claimed that this signage is not part of the construction and acknowledged the feedback, even though the city doesn’t intend to take any further action based on it.

Where did it go wrong?

The width profiles of Novodvorská Street (42 m) and Generála Šišky Street (35 m) are ample. Within the street reconstruction, an entirely separate cycling infrastructure could have been created, isolated from both cars and pedestrians. Instead, the city merged automobile and cycling traffic even more than before the reconstruction. And this isn’t pleasant for either drivers or cyclists.

Why? Deputy Mayor for Transport Zdeněk Hřib (Pirates) justified the poor cycling infrastructure solution with a land use decision from 2018, which restricted significant modifications to the street’s profile. „Libuš already had the land use decision in 2018, when I was just taking on the role of mayor. It was too late to make substantial changes. I aim to do better in new projects,“ he added.

The comprehensive reconstruction of parts of the three streets in the southern part of Prague ended up rather degrading the cycling infrastructure. Praise can be given for preserving the original separated crossing with cycling route A214 or highlighting the bike lane along the Libuš bus stop. In other cases, cycling transport was essentially fitted in only „where there was some space left.“

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