Thursday, 21 February 2013

Getreidemarkt: continued...

I was going to do a more detailed version of my original Getreidemarkt proposal but now that there are so many other proposals out there I will not bother.  Each proposal has pros and cons and I do not know which is best.  However I feel the important point has been made that there are solutions and it is possible to have reduced conflict on the roads if the roads are designed differently.  I hope a good solution can be developed although unless some road space is allocated to bikes for a proper separated cycle path I think this will not be possible.

Argus and IGF have proposed a One direction RadWeg solution.  Stephan Plepelits developed a design similar to mine in 2009 as a Technical University (TU) Project: Download. The TU have prepared a Discussion paper with some other options here: IVV-Diskussionsvorlage "Radweg Getreidemarkt"

There has been considerable media interest in this and derStandard did a TV show about it.

Well done for the Christoph Chorherr, for going back to the drawing board.  I think he was really surprised by how much frustration and anger there is out there, however as a user of Vienna's poor road design I am not surprised at all.  So often cyclists are fobbed off with poor quality paint on "solutions" that do nothing to increase safety and often reduces it by forcing bikes out of the way of cars into the door zone.  This has to change.  The final solution at Getreidemarkt will show us if Vienna really is VeloCity or CarCity.

To be continued....

Sunday, 17 February 2013

Neugestaltung Schwedenplatz

Someone challenged me to find ideas how to make the Schwedenplatz not only a more bikable but also a more liveable place. This area of Vienna is getting redeveloped however I have very little information about the plans other than the useful information here.  Therefore this is a ignorant brainstorm and nothing else but lets look at this space and see what could be done for bikes.

This is a view of the cycle network at Schwedenplatz. It is a bit of a confusing mixed mess.  The route along the canal is fantastic although it does get a bit crowded in summer. There is not a lot of cycle traffic at Schwedenplatz because it is very cycle unfriendly at the moment.  On the Franz Joefs-Kai there is a radweg but this is mixed in with pedestrians and it becomes very overcrowded in summer.

I will assume the functions of the space will remain and that the tram lines or underground garage will not be moved.  From the consultation here this seams to be the case.  The tram lines and the differing space functions create strong divisions in this space.   In order to maximise the space available for a nice park like location to be developed the transport function spaces need to be as space efficient as possible.

In my opinion it is important to remove the dividing road Rotenturmstrasse. This small amount of one way traffic can be routed down Fleischmarkt.  This dividing road does more to make the space unpleasant than its transport function justifies. This space is just too valuable to be used for a petrol station so that should be removed.

There are 2 radweg routes through here in my opinion. I have drawn them on the map below.  The Northern route exists already but between Urania and Schwedenplatz there is not enough room on the foot path for the bikes and the many pedestrians.  One lane of motor traffic needs to be removed to provide proper space for this route.

I think the southern route has to weave along the dividing lines of the space functions to minimise conflict.  This would require the ramp entrance to the underground garage to be moved and the space where the petrol station is now used for the coaches and buses. There are many tram lines and pedestrians travelling between the tram stops and U-Bahn exits, at this location the cycle path would need to go out along the edge of the road.  It would be extremely  important that high speed motor traffic does not turn off the huge road and cross a cycle path.  Therefore a cycle path (if required) would need to be routed between the tram lines and the motor vehicles.
It would be really nice to allow bikes to ride freely through the pedestrian space. This would work if pedestrian density is not too high and fast bike through traffic has an alternative route.  The canal is a fantastic through route but there is also pedestrian conflict there in summer.  So I think at least one fast through route for bike traffic needs to be good quality and clearly defined and the rest of the space used for pedestrians and people enjoying the space.  I do not know how bike traffic will develop here but it is essential that it is considered now at the planning stage and not painted on a foot path later as often seams to be the case.  Lets see what solutions are proposed and what they will mean for bike traffic.  Can the city of Vienna get this right?  They have space budget and time so let see...

Friday, 15 February 2013


A new solution for Getreidemarkt has been announced today. This 4 lane motorway is to be made more attractive for cyclists with this  solution.
At the moment this is a very exciting and dangerous place to ride.  You come down hill fast along a extremely narrow strip and merge with 3 lanes of  (50kmph max speed (realistic 65kmph)) cars who compete for position in the 4 lanes at the next junction.  2 to go straight, 1 is right turn only and one is both.  This means on a bike you have to take the second lane.  This is all good fun for people who like extreme sports.  The new solution forces you to pull out at a specific point rather than pick you gap so I see it doing nothing for safety (or making this at all attractive) for anyone on a bike.

How would the Dutch fix this?

Here is the cycle network on is a missing connection between the Mariahilfe Strasse junction and the Treitistrasse, and also the Kostlergasse.  So let fix this huge and obvious whole in the cycle network.

This is what it looks like from above.

The current situation:

Here is a very quick sketch of how a bidirectional cycle path could be easily fitted into this space.

Coming down the hill there will be 3 lanes not 4.  A curb or small wall is needed as a barrier.  The traffic lights can be timed to remove all conflict at the junctions if necessary.  One of the 4 lanes of parking could be used to create a bike route along the Wiener Strasse.

This would reduce peak traffic capacity of the junctions a little and reduce parking by a maximum of 25% but it would be a solution that would be comfortable and convenient to use and a real improvement for people on bikes.

Cycle traffic will never be a significant proportion of the traffic unless it is granted some space.  Just 1 of 8 lanes along the Naschmarkt are required for a solution here.  If there is not enough space for just 1/8 of the space to be allocated for bikes then there is not enough space for modes of transport that are inefficient with space use.  This needs to be done properly or it will be a waste of money.  Spending 200000 Euros on a strip of paint down the middle of a motorway and saying this will be a safety improvement for bikes is nothing other than incompetence and a waste of tax payers money.

Tuesday, 5 February 2013


Recently there has been a political row about the Habsburgergasse in the central 1st District of Vienna.  A "journalist" in a "news paper" reported that the Wiener Linien (who are responsible for the fantastic public transport in Vienna) are concerned about plans to open Habsburgergasse to cycle traffic against the one way system.

This was copied (originally including the totally incorrect information that a bus is 3.70m wide) to the ORF Website.

Clearly Public transport is important as is the Safety of Cyclists but what I do not understand is where is the consistency of policy.  How can this 50kmph road be safe for cyclists in the narrow door zone gap?

But in this 30 kmph road the danger be unthinkable?

This is an issue for cyclists because the  pedestrian zones in the 1st district block through traffic. So in one direction the Habsburgergasse (pink line through the grey zone) provides a route for the Bus, cars and cycles.  Going the long legal way around is inconvenient so whether it is legal or not there will be cyclists in Habsburgergasse traveling in both direction.

Cyclists are not allowed to ride amongst pedestrians for safety reasons.  Which would be OK but then in the Ringradweg they are forced together.

In this street you can legally ride against the one way system.  I do it a lot and if a vehicle comes we slow and squeeze past with a bit of mutial respect and there is no issue.

However a professional Bus driver can not be trusted to proceed with caution and respect for other road users for the 80m long narrow bit of the Habsburgergasse?

There is no logic in this policy it is just an example of cyclist bashing and trying to make fights for cyclists against pedestrians or cyclists against public transport, and distracts from the real issue of the design of better urban spaces for people.

I hope a resolution can be found and that the solution priorities people and the place to make the first district less of a car park and more of a beautiful Old City center which is a nice place to walk and cycle around or stop and spend time in.  Public transport should also be a priority but if Wiener Linien are to insist on setting the safety bar so high here lets have some consistency in other districts when it comes to the importance of cycle safety.