Bicycle - an integral transport tool in the agglomeration
In the Krakow Functional Area (KrOF), bicycle routes include 93 kilometers (roads for bicycles) and 42 kilometers (roads for bicycles and pedestrians), with the best developed network of cycling routes in Kraków alone with nearly 230 km of cycle paths or mixed sections (read more). The Krakow routes have a mainly communicative function, the ones around the city have been largely created with a view to using tourism and recreation. The cycling infrastructure consists not only of bicycle paths. The city center lacks space for their construction, but solutions in the field of traffic engineering are used. Krakow currently has probably the most solutions in Poland based on a counter-attack. These are sections where on one-way streets cycling is allowed “against the tide”, but only where there is a speed limit of 30 km / h. There is no shortage of bicycle lanes and sluices in the city to help cyclists safely cross intersections. Thanks to the presence of such solutions, less skilled cyclists are more likely to use a bicycle in the city. But the infrastructure itself is not enough to drive. Therefore, Krakow is successively investing in bicycle stands, monitored bicycle parking lots and bicycle shelters. Without the ability to safely attach a bike, it is difficult to talk about effective everyday use of it. At the end of 2018, there were more than 6000 such urban stands. The Kraków Bicycle Officer led to the launch (in 2016) of automatic bike counters. Thanks to this, it is possible to monitor bicycle trends in the city – also how many cyclists choose a bicycle in winter (around 25-30%).
A coherent bicycle policy
Municipalities associated in the Krakow Metropolis have decided that bicycle transport should be included in the transport system of the area. The recreational function of a bicycle is worth promoting, but one should also think about it as a tool for everyday trips, eg to work. To this end, a cycle network development program is being implemented. It is planned to: improve safety on existing cycling routes, increase mobility of residents and transport accessibility in the KrOF, construction of P + R interchange stations (park and ride) and B & R bicycle parks (rides and rides) integrating individual and collective transport, development road network for bicycles and pedestrians, and roads for bicycles connecting the villages of the entire functional area and ensuring a comfortable mix. Everything is to be integrated with interchange nodes, expansion of the public transport system (railway, bus) in the suburban area of KrOF.
Bike network concepts
Taking into account the terrain conditions of the KrOF located within the Krakow Upland, the Sandomierz Basin, the Wieliczka Podgórze and the Vistula river valley cut through, appropriate assumptions were made for the concept of the bicycle route system. Routes in municipalities will be implemented in such a way as to enable residents to reach transport hubs, where they will use public transport services:
- within a radius of 2.5 km from transport hubs, the municipalities will strive for the development of bicycle infrastructure facilitating access,
- in the area of public facilities (offices, schools , libraries) the municipalities will take care of the possibility of leaving the bike, in the case of road investments, municipalities will strive to build infrastructure supporting bicycle traffic,
- steps will be taken to extend the Krakow cycle network beyond the city,
- efforts will be made to create a main route around Krakow connecting transport hubs in the KrOF communes cycling (EuroVelo 4 and 11, VeloRudawa) have been recognized as the main enabling journey inside the KrOF,
- in order to develop the bicycle infrastructure, areas with favorable terrain (eg river valleys) will be used.
The implementation of this ambitious cycling network development plan must, however, be implemented within a coherent policy, so that travelers in each municipality feel treated in the same way. Therefore, special standards have been defined in the area of the Krakow Functional Area (more) to ensure that the planning, design, construction, maintenance and marking of the cycling infrastructure are homogeneous. The development of cycling infrastructure is to be based on the proven Dutch methodology (five requirements of the Dutch CROW standardization organization) indicating the following elements: cohesion (infrastructure will form the whole), directness (infrastructure will ensure the shortest possible connection between points), attractiveness (routes conducted in areas encouraging cyclists to use the infrastructure), security (the infrastructure is to guarantee traffic safety for all road users, including cyclists), convenience (high standards of design, performance and exploitation). These standards will be part of the requirements for the design and construction of new routes. The bicycle infrastructure is to be adapted to the needs of all users and should enable all types of bicycles to be used. For each type of routes: main, collective, connecting and recreational, the appropriate parameters have been determined.
City Bicycle system
There is also a city bike “Wavelo” in the city. The system operator provides the latest generation of fourth generation bicycles, which are safe, comfortable and easy to locate (have an on-board computer and GPS). There are at least 150 stations and 1500 bicycles at the residents’ disposal. The system also has additional sponsorship stations. In addition, it is possible to create temporary bicycle stations based on existing bicycle racks. This solution was used during the Book Fair – at their headquarters and in the area of the largest cemeteries during All Saints’ celebrations. The big advantage of the system is that it also works during the winter. It is also important to give away the bike also outside the station, which significantly increases the flexibility of the entire system. Krakow was the first city in which a year-round fourth-generation city bike system was launched. What’s more, as the first city in Poland, he used the concession to choose the contractor and thus virtually does not bear the costs of the system
The network of bicycle connections planned under the Krakow metropolis may not disregard activities undertaken by the authorities of the Małopolska province. The region implements the largest project for the construction of tourist cycling routes in Poland – VeloMałopolska. In the metropolitan area, they can be part of the everyday transport network. VeloMałopolska assumes the implementation of eight new routes: the Vistula cycle route – WTR, VeloDunajec, VeloMetropolis – the Małopolska section of the EuroVelo 4 route, VeloNatura – the Małopolska section of the EuroVelo 11 route, VeloSkawa, VeloRaba, VeloPrądnik, VeloRudawa.
Two thousand wheels lovers will have to make almost 1000 kilometers of bicycle roads by the end of 2020. The routes will connect the most attractive natural and tourist places in the region. Implementation of the VeloMalopolska project will make it possible to cycle through the entire province through the most attractive areas of the region, which are not lacking in Lesser Poland. The new routes are prepared so that they can be used by professionals, beginners and whole families. Over 300 km of routes from the VeloMalopolska project have been completed, over 280 km are under construction. The project is created by means of the Małopolskie Voivodeship and funds from the EU Regional Operational Program of the Małopolska Voivodship for the years 2014-2020. The Małopolska region, which is attractive from the cycling point of view, can be learned from the Lesser Poland cycle program on Bikes – produced by TVP Kraków and the Małopolskie Voivodship.
Initiatives that promote the bike
Krakow actively participates in various initiatives aimed at popularizing the bicycle as a means of transport. The “Bicycle for Work” campaign is addressed to adults, economically active people, whose aim is to encourage motorists to choose a bicycle on the way to work. In turn, for the youngest, the “Bicycle May” action in which children can compete and collect prizes. They can come to school: by bike, scooter, rollerblading or skateboarding. First and foremost, activity counts. As part of the campaign “Bicycle for work, i.e. home, bicycle, work … and so on and on”, companies and institutions submitted for the program reward those employees who choose a bicycle (their own or from the rental) on a daily trip to work. Thanks to this action, there are fewer cars on the streets in the city, and thus less exhaust gases into the atmosphere. Current estimates indicate that up to 5 percent. all trips around Krakow are carried out using a bicycle.
Pre-school children, students and teachers of Krakow schools are actively involved in the “Bicycle May” campaign, one of the largest in Poland. Its main task is to popularize the bicycle as a means of transport on the way to school. 7641 participants took part in this program promoting a healthy lifestyle and sustainable mobility among the youngest. By playing with elements of competition, the number of cars transporting children to school decreases, and the youngest ones develop good and healthy habits.
Increasing urbanization is considered a key challenge of the 21st century. Sustainable transport and sustainable development of urban areas are considered as factors conducive to economic growth. The increase in flows in urban areas affects congestion, air pollution and reduces the quality of life in cities. According to the European Commission, this situation is yet to deteriorate. Forecasts show that the intensity of freight transport in urban areas will increase by 40% by 2030 and by over 80% by 2050 compared to 2005. At the same time, passenger transport is also expected to increase by around 34% by 2030 and more than 50 % by 2050 (compared to 2005). An effective transition to this kind of mobility in cities, which would be compatible with the principles of sustainable development, poses a significant challenge for cities in the European Union. A big step in this direction is the active EU policy in this respect, which through the European Innovation Partnership for Smart Cities and Communities in the European Commission is to support and promote intelligent solutions (smart cities) in EU cities.