Friday, October 19, 2007

Bodø in Norway plans Bicycle Tube

The city of Bodø in the County of Nordland in northern Norway wants to become a bicycle city. NPRA and the municipal of Bodø have suggested building in a foot and bicycle path between the College of Higher Education and the city centre to make cycling easier and more attractive. Some years ago a glass roof was constructed over a part of the main street and the experience with the project was so positive, now the inhabitants of Bodø gladly look forward to the tube being built. The idea, which was introduced by the City Plan Director, Jørn Roar Moe, is to construct a framed structure covered with transparent plastic plates. The bicycle tube will have a number of roofed openings for access and ventilation. There will also be internal illumination. The tube will hold physical separated roads for cyclists and pedestrians.
Read this article in NORDIC

1 comment:

Jonny Axelsson said...

There is usually one or a handful factors that hold people back from using bicycles even if they want to. Identifying these and alleviating them can make a decisive difference for bicycle use. In coastal and northernly Bodø the weather is definitely one such factor. A project like this will not only make it more appealing to choose a bike over alternatives, it will also extend the biking season.

For most Norwegians the winter season, at least December-March, and often the autumn as well, is off-season for biking and alternatives (car or public transport) will have to be used instead. If bicycling can be made into an all-year activity this will effectively double the bicycle use even if there were not a single new bicyclist. This of course depends on the entry and exit points not being far from your starting point and target. You are not going to cycle far in a blizzard.

I have a technical concern. The tube is fairly narrow, but will still have space for "physically separated roads for cyclists and pedestrians".

There will be cyclists in both directions. When improving the bicycle system in Oslo, they correctly identified a bi-direction bicycle lane as a collision risk, two bicycles passing each other at high speed in a narrow space can be dangerous.

Their solution was to replace the original bicycle lanes with two very narrow lanes on each side of the street. That solved this problem but created a traffic problem instead. As a consequence of the split the now unidirectional lanes became so narrow it is impossible to bypass slower riders. This creates bicycle queues during rush hour as a fast rider travels several times as fast as a slow one. In Oslo you can get around this by either switching to the car lane or the pavement, but in a tube this will not be an option.

It is hard to see on the illustration, but it seems that two separate bicycle lanes are intended. Bodø is a fairly small town at 40,000 inhabitants (you could in theory fit everyone into the tube at the same time), and traffic is unlikely to be a major problem, but riding 8km (or even 800m or 80m) without being able to pass will be frustrating for both parties.

If my concern is right I think they would be better off if there weren't a physical separation at least at some points along the tube to allow fast bikes to pass.