Certain cyclists move with caution while biking around Strasbourg, France. The fear of getting into an accident seizes them particularly at certain roads and intersections. As of yet, Eurométropole has put out surveys about everyday bike rides (which went up 23% between 1997 and 2009), yet it has not yet mapped out accident-prone zones of the city. But Strasbourg’s cyclists know the areas at risk.
Cyclists especially cite Vosges Avenue, the Route de Brumath, Boecklin Street, and Lyon, Nancy, and Metz Boulevards, where there are no bike paths. Certain axes have a space reserved for cyclists, but do not come across as any less dangerous for the Strasbourgeois. Julien Tomasi prefers to take back roads, rather than take the Route des Romains. He plays it safe rather than taking a risk on this axis, where “The bike path alternates between the road and the sidewalk, and we also face the danger of cars that are turning or leaving a parking space.” The most dangerous spot along the Route des Romains? In front of the children’s travel association, Avea, at number 104. “We often pick up cyclists there,” says Tomasi, a firefighter who won 10 bike races in 2014.
In the same vein, Cadr 67 (an association for cycling activism) marks “the two principal axes of Schiltigheim towards Strasbourg [Route de Bischwiller and Général-de-Gaulle Street]” as dangerous, because they contain those “cyclists who arrive from Hoenheim, Bischheim, and from the North.” The association has also placed a cycling alert on the bike path in front of the Baggersee tram stop. A dramatic accident happened here in September when a young 17-year old girl was hit by a truck.
The Georges-Wodli Street Tunnel, where cyclists and automobilists ride side by side, is not reassuring. Julien Tomasi also mentions the danger of 22-Novembre Street. “The bike path is squeezed between the park lane and the sidewalk. You have to anticipate and be vigilant, looking for opening car doors and crossing pedestrians.”
Cyclists riding in the wrong direction could be added to these dangers, as some cyclists blame others for riding in the opposite direction of traffic on certain paths. On the bike paths of Vieux-Marché-aux-Poissons Street, it is an everyday occurrence. Jérémie, a cyclist who always wears a helmet, has twice ended up in the hospital with a fracture because of another cyclist riding in the wrong direction.
Of the 64 accidents involving a pedestrian in the first 11 months of 2013, five were with a bike (9 in 2012). “Problems arise due to construction,” explains Jeff, mechanic-instructor at Bretz’Selle, “But everyone’s behavior is also a factor- cyclists, pedestrians, and automobilists.”
In front of the Bretz’Selle boutique, where one can bring in bikes for repair, Jeff finds that incivilities and misunderstandings take place between the three modes of transportation. This particularly occurs when crossing the intersection of Bouchers and Boeufs Streets. Nearby, the “Cede the Right-of-Way” signs at the intersection of Porte de l’Hôpital Street and Spielmann Street as well as that of Boeuf Street and Austerlitz Square do nothing to calm cyclists fear of flying over the handlebars, as drivers tend to ignore them. Audrey is afraid to take the right-of-way in the Orangerie and Robertsau neighborhoods, because careful bike riding has so much to do with the rules of the road.
*Statistics from the National Police. Physical traffic accidents= at least one vehicle and one injured person involved in an incident that requires the accident procedure to be followed by the police.
What areas of your city are most dangerous for cyclists? How could these dangerous places be made safer, so as to encourage more sustainable modes of transit? 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.