In the weekend, a shitload of snow fell on southern Finland again. So I, for one, was surprised to find out that the bicycling routes were actually plowed pretty well this morning. My commute took only 5 minutes longer than usual. There were a couple of places where I had to carry the bike, though. Like this one:
This bit of light traffic pathway is often a challenging one. There's a steep ascent, under which there's a chicane consisting of two sharp turns. Apparently, the place is challenging also for maintenance vehicles, as it is usually sloppily plowed. This morning, however, the level of sloppy plowing had reached new, unforeseen heights: there was a bank of snow about one metre deep. The only way to negotiate this obstacle was to carry the bicycle, cyclocross-style, up the ascent while wading knee deep in the snow.
Of course, it's understandable that it isn't possible to plow narrow passages with a large vehicle. But how friggin' large was the vehicle that had to go around this traffic sign from the left?
It seems to me that there's no more space here on the left side of the traffic sign than there is on the right side. However, this road (Veturitie) had been plowed in a less-than-meticulous manner, i.e. all the trickier bits had just been bypassed. Well, at least in this place there were two alternative ways of advancing:
a) carry the bicycle while wading knee-deep
b) go against the stream of cars on the road.
Needless to say, all the commuters had chosen alternative b), as there were no signs of wading in the snow.
Then there's the intersection that I just love to hate:
Now, this intersection was redesigned and rebuilt some two years ago. Or perhaps it had already been designed in the 60's, when these kinds of sub-optimal solutions were favoured, and it wasn't feasible to change the plans, even though they should know better by now. Anyway, in their infinite wisdom, the designers chose to make the bike lane meander in a W shape, even though the road is totally straight. Then they added high curbs and put the lanes for pedestrians and bikes in slightly different levels to make it fancier. So, now we have an intersection that
- slows down the bicyclists
- forces the bicyclists to take sharp turns (dangerous when the road is slippery)
- is, apparently, unplowable by machine (well, they could use shovels, couldn't they?)
- has high curbs where you'd assume the bike lane goes (which may be surprising when the curbs are hidden by snow, or when there's bad visibility due to rain, fog or steamy goggles).
They should hand whoever designed this intersection a shovel and make him/her keep it rideable in the winter. Perhaps that way they'd think of maintainability when designing their next intersection.