Exploring road space going global

Lombard Road, San Francisco
Lombard Road, San Francisco

It’s always interesting to see how other people do things.  Here’s an apparently accidental solution to slowing traffic in San Francisco, with the added benefit of tourists slowing  traffic in much faster adjacent roads to get their photo taken.  This road is now marked in tourist guides including lonely planet we were using, promoted as San Fran’s ‘most crooked road’.

We hired bikes to get about San Francisco.  There are some fantastic stretches of bike route along the sea front, but mostly it was a bit scary being  a cyclist.  The San Fran drivers did feel notably more friendly and tolerant to pedestrians and cyclists, which made journeying pleasant, if hazardous at the hundreds of crossings between every block.

At our next stop, New Zealand, Sunday driving is encouraged, with the majority of roads given ‘scenic route’ status, although not really designed with cyclists in mind.  Space and volume of traffic is not really a problem, but there are local issues.   The approach to road planning is refreshingly transparent.  In one small town a High Street bypass was being proposed, taking the front page of the local paper, and seen as an opportunity for local businesses / press to increase tourism and shopping.  Alternative routes for passing traffic were being considered at the same time as a serious consideration of how the newly pedestrianised area will work to benefit all local people.  Perhaps most impressive is the ‘community engagement’ winning over press, communities and businesses, and a comprehensive and understandable website to find out about all New Zealand’s road plans – see http://www.nzta.govt.nz/projects/inner-city-bypass-improvements/

Anyone for the ferry?

Our last stop was Shanghai on New Years Day, which, for me, redefined congestion.  While it was pleasant to see so many bikes, there was no noticeable difference between road and pavement, traffic lights served more as street decoration, and crossing roads was more by rule of Lemmings – if enough people go for it, the traffic is bound to slow a little, and most of us will get across.

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