Saturday 7 July 2012

Tschuldigen: passt ned

An expensive campaign has been launched in Vienna to try and defuse the conflict and aggression on the roads.  This is encouraging in that it is an indication that there is a problem and it is not just me that finds the roads unpleasant. It also shows that the government is aware of this and trying to do something about it.

("tschuldigen" is slag for sorry,  "passt schon" means no problem.)

But lets look at a couple of these conflict situations that are up on bill boards around Vienna.

This is an annoyingly common situation where a car driver opens a door without looking.  What can be the result of such actions?

Here a cyclist is thrown under a Taxi:

I see this as a problem.  Clearly the car driver should look before opening a car door but unfortunately it is a fact that they often do not.

To avoid this situation I cycle way out into the road away from car doors so that there is space for the door to swing open or a pedestrian to step out into the road without me having to swerve out into the road to avoid them. The problem is that for some reason many car drivers have an instinctive zombie like "Must Overtake Cyclist" obsession. They seam to take it as a personal insult that you are in front of them. They will try for force their way past so that they can wait longer at the next red light. This conflict can be reduced if you cycle faster than the traffic flows which is not too hard but you have to be fit and confident to do this.

Now for the bit that really really annoys me about this situation. On a huge amount of roads there is a thin cycle lane painted next to the parked cars.

This helps you filter through traffic jams but only at very low speed because you still have the car door and stepping our pedestrian problem, However when there is no traffic jam it also legally and socially binds you to ride in this very dangerous door zone. It also gives aggressive car drivers a clear lane to overtake without slowing down. So if you have to swerve out or someone opens a door you get hit from behind by a car traveling at full speed. It also reinforces the zombie car drivers "Must Overtake Cyclist" obsession by indicating to them that cyclists should get out of their way.

Here is an other tschuldigen campaign situation.

Slalom racing through pedestrians is a normal part of cycle route usage. Sometimes there is a separate cycle lane and pedestrian lane and sometimes they are mixed together. As you can see in the picture above it is not always very clear which bit is for cycles and which bit is for pedestrians. So you tend to get bikes swerving all over the place to avoid pedestrians who are unwittingly standing in the way. As a pedestrian you are constantly buzzed by cyclists that whiz past uncomfortably close.

It is clear bikes should respect pedestrians and give them space. It is also clear that pedestrians should not walk on cycle lanes. However this does not happen as the cycle / pedestrian devision is very blurred and often removed by design.

You can have a zone where cycle and pedestrian traffic is mixed but it needs to be slow and/or low density. A main route for cyclists is not a suitable place for a main pedestrian route.

I can not say this "passt schon". It is terrible design that creates uncomfortable and aggressive dangerous conflict and that "passt ned".


  1. Sydney Australia also has problems with the Door Zone.

  2. Infrastructure responsible for this dooring in France: