Playing the “Find the Cycling Lane” Game

Found it! If you look carefully enough, you practically can't miss it...
Found it! If you look carefully enough for a cleaned cycling path, you can’t miss it…

A few days ago, Zagreb’s mayor, Mr. M. Bandic announced very publicly that Zagreb, the 800 000 inhabitant capital of Croatia, was now free of snow and ice after the heavy snowfall last weekend. One only needs healthy eyesight to see how far that really was from the truth. The announcement therefore came as quite a shock – and vulgar provocation and insult – to citizens who were (and still are) struggling, trying to get things done around town, get to work and back home without an unplanned visit to an emergency room. Truth be told, the utter collapse of city transportation that took place 4 days ago has been relieved to a degree: a significant part of the street network supports slowed down car traffic and trains, buses and trams drive mostly (but not fully) according to their normal routes and selected squares have been cleaned for pedestrian traffic.

One things stands out in all the fuss around a city paralysed by snow, in that it doesn’t even get mentioned as an issue by the city administration – namely, cycling lanes. While cycling at 0°C is not a widely spread pastime, it is not at all difficult and a bicycle still remains a practical way to get around. However, cycling on ice, salt, sand and through snow is a combination of impossible, dangerous, slow and straining. The message the administration seems to be sending is “use a car or a tram” – means of transportation vastly more expensive and not very fast…not to mention insufficient: trams are already overcrowded and if the city had 20% more cars, the already critically stretched traffic system would collapse under its own weight.

The total surface of the 160 km of cycling paths in the city is just above 0.1 square km, a minuscule fraction of the city. If a small snowplough swept snow away at 5 km/h, it would take 4 such machines to clean all Zagreb’s cycling paths in 8 hours – a single work day, without overtime. They have, of course, not been cleaned. What’s more, they have never been cleaned. Not only have they never been cleaned, but the city does not seem to own what little machinery is necessary to keep this paths operational…and as a final slap in the face, these lanes are being used as storage for snow pushed out of the way of cars.

The following mini photo gallery has been prepared in an attempt to remind the city administration of the issue, subtly suggesting what lies under the ice…and isn’t it convenient that the local elections are just around the corner?

Hebrang street, Zagreb: mounds of snow almost perfectly covering the cycling path
Hebrang street, Zagreb: mounds of snow almost perfectly covering the cycling path
Savska, in front of the Krivi put bar
Savska, in front of the Krivi put bar
Lučićeva, to the north
Lučićeva, to the north
Lučićeva, to the south
Lučićeva, to the south
Ljubljanska street, Vjesnik
Ljubljanska street, Vjesnik
Savska, in front of the Mimara museum
Savska, in front of the Mimara museum
Savska street, in front of the Westin hotel
Savska street, in front of the Westin hotel
Avenue Slavonska, Vjesnik
Slavonska, near Vjesnik
Advertisements

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s