We hear a lot about cycling in Europe in the likes of Denmark, Germany and, of course, The Netherlands. Wrocław might not exactly be known as a cycling nirvana internationally, nevertheless it is certainly worthy of some attention. Thus as part of a new series, I'll be writing a few posts on cycling in the city, covering both the good and bad (and there's a fair amount of both).
Since this is the first post in the series, I'm going to start out with three big positives:
1. Number Of Cyclists
Wrocław has a decent number of cyclists. It's no Amsterdam, but I've seen all sorts of people on all sorts of bikes. Lots of really practical Dutch-style bikes, lots of women and older cyclists. Very few people wear helmets or Lycra and I've seen no-one with illuminous clothing so far. Cycling doesn't seem to be any kind of statement, just a means of transport.
2. Level Of Infrastructure
There is some really nice, if somewhat patchy, segregated cycling infrastructure.
From left to right: 1) a great example of a 'floating' bus stop 2) a crossing with priority over side roads (I assume…) 3) a crossing with cyclists separated from pedestrians and cars 4) a nice continuity of the path over this junction
The above pictures were taken on a ride from the city centre to Magnolia Park, which is about 5km out of town. There's also an excellent segregated path to the Airport (about 10km from the centre) and a fair few more dotted around.
There are a good number of so-called 'floating' bus stops, avoiding conflict with pedestrians (common elsewhere in Europe and soon to be trialled in London).
3. The Cycle Hire Scheme
There's a decent cycle-hire scheme too, run by NextBike. It has around 30 docking stations and use for up to 20 minutes is completely free (no access charge as in London). After 20 minutes the tariff is very reasonable. The scheme is simple to use (there are machines at each docking station and there's an excellent mobile webstite/smartphone app). Bikes are locked and unlocked using a simple 4-digit code on the lock. Unlike London's scheme, if a dock is full you can simply chain your bike to another so you're never stuck with your bike. There's a guide to the system in English on Wrocław Uncut of course, and some usage stats here.
However, in terms of overall cyclists in Wrocław, Nextbike users are a pretty small proportion (I'd hazard a guess at 5%). In terms of a cycling revolution, cycle hire is always going to be on the periphery.
From left to right: 1) a docking station next to the entrance of Magnolia Park 2) the machines are a little fiddly, but you can use a smartphone app instead, (3) the docking station highlighted on the map on the nextbike website
Stay tuned for more from Chris on cycling in Wroclaw. This article is taken from his blog, which is hosted on http://jacwab.blogspot.com. Be sure to check it out!