posted July 3, 2014 in category Living in Wroclaw
Wroclaw definitely does not lack fans of public transport - we know how and which line to choose to get form one part of the city to the other - and the happy know no hours. Despite all that, Wroclaw aims at becoming a ‘cycling’ city and its success is quite probable. We even have our own bike officer. When the cycling season starts, we have traffic jams on cycle passages and then you can see how popular bicycle really is.
Cycle lanes in Wroclaw
A lot of people tend to complain on the quality of Wroclaw’s cycle lanes: uneven, ugly, and ill-planed. And it is difficult to complain on something that’s not there, right? Despite all that, there are many cyclists in Wroclaw and all of them are doing fine. Many cycle passages and bike boxes appeared in order to help cyclists get on the roadways and the network of cycle lanes starts to cover Wroclaw. It is easy to get to the city centre by bike, but here the problems appear - the city centre is the most difficult to cycle though. For example: you can cycle through the whole Powstancow Slaskich Street to the Main Square, but on Swidnicka Street, you will have to enter the roadway.
You can find maps which will guide you on how to get to the city centre form any other part of the city: click
How about the sidewalk?
You are probably already familiar with the bicycle slalom between pedestrians and the sound of bike bell behind your back. But, to put it in a nutshell: we are not allowed to cycle on sidewalks. There are, however, certain exceptions to this rule.
You can cycle on the sidewalk if:
you are cycling with a child who is younger than 10 years old,
the weather makes it difficult to cycle on the roadway (heavy rain, snow, fog),
sidewalk is more than 2 m wide.
Cyclists may be generally divided into two groups: those who prefer to cycle on the roadway, and those who fear the street traffic. Both of them are right, but the source of conflict is to be found in the bike infrastructure which is developing slowly in the city. Cycling on the sidewalk may seem to be safer, but unfortunately, it is more expensive. Pedestrians attack ‘sidewalk cyclists’ and police make them pay fines. The only good solution to the problem is to plan the route in such a way that you are sure you can cycle without stress - and that is possible.
Pedestrians have priority, so when you are on the cycling lane, let people walk first (you may pay the fine of even PLN 350 for not obeying this rule).
If there is no cycling lane, you are not allowed to cycle through the pedestrian crossing, so get off the bike and walk it to the other side of the street.
You generally hold precedence at bike crossing, but you shouldn’t take it as read (be always cautious when cycling).
Wroclaw’s bike paradox
Rynek, the Main Square, is one of the most interesting places on the bike map of Wroclaw. It is actually forbidden to cycle there, but not everyone is aware of that (and some people happily ignore the rule). This topic has already been broadly discussed and served as the example of the city absurd, as there is the Wroclaw City Bike stop at the Main Square. It is also one of the reasons of disagreements between the Mayor and Wroclaw’s Bike Initiative. In any case, although the bike prohibition seems to be fake, it is still possible to be punished with a fine. Last year, in September, there was even a special city campaign: the municipal police stopped cyclists, but only to warn and remind them that they should walk their bike through the Main Square.
You have to make sure that your brakes and bike lights are working in order to keep yourself and your wallet safe. During the “Bezpieczny chodnik” [“Safe Sidewalk”] Campaign, the police stop cyclists and give them tickets for braking the law, and also check the technical condition of their bikes. Sometimes they even organize ‘round-ups’. Kościuszki Street is quite infamous because of that. Theoretically, there is a special cycling lane on Świdnicka Street, but it is difficult to cycle there in the ‘sidewalk traffic’.
Well, maybe it is not perfect, but it’s not the reason for complaining. In Wroclaw, just like in any other city, you should learn how to cycle. As soon as you have your routes figured out, everything is easy.
Author: Michal Hajdasz