The Vélos en Ville Collective warmly welcomes the latest statement from Marseille, France's Bouches-du-Rhône Departmental Council. Announced by Cycling Delegate Eric Le Dissès and by President of the Council Martine Vassal, the department’s cycling plan aims to develop 500 km (311 miles) of bike lanes at a cost of 40 Million euros ($44.7 Million) over a five-year period.
Our association must point out that this plan will essentially only impact those who bike as a sport and not urban cyclists who rely on bikes as a means of transportation in the city.
Nevertheless, this announcement is very good news for several reasons.
Firstly, because the vast majority of fatal bike accidents occur outside urban areas--as are the vast majority of departmental roads. Even if cycling is not a particularly dangerous mode of transportation according to statistics (no worse than pedestrian accidents), 64 percent of fatal accidents take place outside urban areas. Thus, as Vassal points out, when he mentioned that “La Gineste Road is very dangerous” and that “safety is the priority,” these measures should lower the number of accidents on the roads.
The Vélos en Ville Collective also notes that the president stated, “We are going to focus on well-separated, designated lanes.” It is indeed, essential to focus on designated lanes. The departmental council currently reports 80 km (49.7 miles) of bike lanes, but they include some rather iconic roads. Such as the D559 (Gineste), the D559A between Roquefort-la-Bédoule and Cassis, the D908 (Route des Termes) and even the D44G, which have hard shoulders. The bike lanes on these roads are lowered sides, often of ridiculously small widths and with a color barely different from the main road pavement. A bike sign is pictured on the ground every two to four km (1.24 - 2.49 miles), but a vertical sign is almost never found. In terms of security, we can do much better.
This Bicycle Master Plan announcement is also good news for urban cyclists since some departmental roads are found in urban areas like the D44G that connects Marseille to Allauch or the D559 between the Prado Circle and the Luminy roundabout. This will allow the department to improve cycling conditions on urban paths. Unfortunately, not everything is perfect. The paths recently added along the Redon round-about were placed on the sidewalks, therefore excluding pedestrians.
Finally, departmental roads like the D4 between La Valentine and Les Trois Lucs or the D4A between La Valentine and Allauch are going to get some particular attention as they are either very wide or very cramped, and both extremely dangerous in a city where automobile speed is high.
How would you rate bike lane safety in your city? What can be improved? Share your thoughts and your city's stories in the comments area below.
Original article, originally published in French here.
Credits: Data and images linked to sources.