A few days ago I was commenting on the huge difference in bike facilities between our home town of Ostfildern, and our neighbouring town of Sillenbuch, and how, in contrast to the busy street that faces cyclists here, the town has made sure that there is a direct cycle route running to the centre.
So what lies at end? A shopping centre that allows bikes to ride through, and a wide, segregated cycle lane, off the street and inside of parked cars. Who would have thought it? To be fair the town had an advantage here. There used to be a double track tramway along the middle of this street, but the tram was rebuilt as a Stadtbahn (metro) a few years ago and pushed underground. Faced with a sudden increase in available space, the council quite intelligently made a dramatically widened area for pedestrians and bikes: I can only imagine the the annoyance of motorists who were expecting an extra lane or two to race down to Stuttgart.
The shopping centre isn’t bad either. I dislike shopping, which is why I end up doing it. The logic behind this is that if I go, I get what I need and go home as fast as possible, whereas if my wife goes she looks around and finds other things -usually chocolate- so it’s cheaper for her to send me. At least I think that’s the reason. The centre used to do the normal thing of banning people from riding bikes, which is understandable but annoying, but recently sanity prevailed and they let us in, which I imagine has boosted sales, judging by the number of bikes outside some shops. Unfortunately so far there’s not much to lock a bike onto, unless you count the portable wheel manglers put out by local shops. I quickly realised the Xtracycle is heavier than the racks, so now I use the stainless steel trolley racks that are firmly bolted to the ground.
Now, why can’t our village catch up? Surely it makes sense economically: if people don’t feel safe to ride they’ll walk or drive. If they drive they are as likely to go here as come to our centre, because there are more shops. Installing cycle lanes in Ostfildern would reduce pollution, and make it easier for people to shop within the village.