Author Topic: Cycling in and around Warsaw  (Read 828 times)

Regulator

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Cycling in and around Warsaw
« on: September 03, 2018, 04:12:31 pm »
I've just spent a week in Warsaw and wanted to feed back on my experiences as a cyclist.  I took my Brompton, Boudicca, on the trip.

Warsaw has spent a lot of money on developing and encouraging cycling in recent years.  It has a bike sharing scheme (Vetirulo) which has about 350 stations across the city.  Not only does it have the standard 'Boris Bike' style bikes - it also has electric bikes, kids bikes and tandems.  The bikes look well maintained and seemed very popular with people from all walks of life - everyone from teenagers to grannies and business people in suits.

Lots of people also use their own bikes.  Everything from sit up and begs to bling carbon... but I didn't see another person on a Brompton (although there was a Brompton dealership a couple of minutes walk from where I was staying).

Helmets were in use - but the majority of people who weren't lycra-ed up didn't seem to bother.

The main roads of the city aren't particularly inviting to cycle on - fast cars and often with tram tracks.  Most of these have separate cycle tracks either side of the road.  On smaller roads there was a mix of on road lanes (most about 1.5m wide), off road paths or shared use pavements.  Cyclists seemed to be good around pedestrians - probably because there's a presumption of liability.  Pedestrians also seemed to be used to mingling with cyclists and there was give and take on both sides.

What was very noticeable is that, where there were lights at crossings, people (whether on foot or on bikes) waited for the green man/cycle - even if there was no traffic.  On crossings without lights, those on the road have to give way and it took some time to get used to motor vehicles noticing you getting near to the crossing (never mind actually on it) and slowing/stopping until they were sure whether you were crossing or not.

Road and path surfaces were variable - everything from smooth tarmac and brick to cobbles (particularly in the Old Town and some of the Soviet-era areas) and dirt tracks (on some of the Vistulan Boulevards - particularly around the Praga district).  There are also lots of trams so there are tracks to cross - but you don't seem to be forced to cross them at odd angles as you often are here.  Some of the surface were challenging for a Brompton but cyclable with due care.  Boudicca did 15km off road on one ride...

There are seven bridges across the Vistula in Warsaw.  All are open to cyclists with either shared pavement or dedicated cycles lanes separated from motor vehicles.  One has a level specifically for cyclists.

The Vistulan Boulevards are paths on either side of the Vistula River.  On the western bank these have been developed and are, on the whole, beautifully paved with mainly separate cycle paths (a couple of areas of shared pavement but this tends to be wide and easy to move around in.  They're where - at weekends - everyone gather, with bars and food markets.  The eastern side is less developed but does have the 'beaches'.

There are also lots of parks in Warsaw - it's a very green city.  Most of these allow cycling (with the exception of a couple of the more historic parks) either on shared pavements or on specific tracks.

One of the very noticeable things about the cycle facilities in Warsaw is that they tend to go where people want to go...  I suspect that the city engineers responsible for them are cyclists.  Permeability has obviously been at the forefront of their minds and, In a lot of one way streets, contraflow cycling is allowed and seems to work very well.

It's possible to cycle to/from both Chopin airport (which is within the city limits) or Modlin airport (which is about 25 miles outside the city centre) without going on a major road.  The major roads (dual carriageway equivalent) have either separate cyclepaths or quiet roads running either one or both sides.

I would recommend Warsaw as a cycling-friendly city.  It's not perfect (mobile phone use by drivers is rife, as is speeding on many of the main roads) but you can tell the authorities are making real efforts to encourage and support cycling. It's also a great place for a long weekend - particularly in the summer months, when people spend a lot of time on the beaches, in the parks and on the river.
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Re: Cycling in and around Warsaw
« Reply #1 on: September 05, 2018, 02:14:20 pm »
It sounds as if Warsaw's changed a lot since I was there, at least in terms of cycle paths and such. The hire bikes weren't there either. Of course, it's changed in many ways since then.

The reason people wait for the green man is that you can get quite a hefty fine for crossing on red, and the police are (or at least were) not shy in giving them out. I don't think there is presumed liability though, unless that's been introduced recently, but there is a minimum passing distance (from memory 1.5m) for motor vehicles passing cyclists, pedestrians, horses and motorcyclists. Which is about 1.4m more than many drivers leave when passing other cars. There's also a general rule that you're allowed to cycle on the pavement if the road has a speedlimit over 50.
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Re: Cycling in and around Warsaw
« Reply #2 on: June 23, 2019, 08:28:39 pm »
Just spent a few days in Warsaw and it’s just like Regulator describes except that now there are also several electric scooter hire providers and they are very popular. It’s quite amazing to see two way cycle paths on both sides of the main boulevards with sensible markings and priorities.

The big difference with the UK,and this is common elsewhere in Europe too, is that people in different modes of transport just intermingle. The cyclists don’t hare around expecting everyone to get out of their way and equally the pedestrians don’t leap out of their skin when a cyclist or scooterist comes up behind them.

The cycle paths extend a long way out of the city — 100s of km on the main roads — though they are mostly block paving which is not ideal when through forest areas.
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