All posts by Gudrun Eickelberg

Women on bikes – There is a difference

 „The bicycle has done more for the emancipation of middle and upper class women then all the struggles of the womens’ movement“. So wrote the Austrian authoress and feminist Rosa Mayreder (1858-1938).


Female English Racing Cyclists – Englische Radrennfahrerinnen 1

The first female cyclists came from wealthy families, taking the opportunity to get away from their restrictive circumstances. In Bremen there were Ricarda Huch and Aline von Kapff, who fought for their freedom from the saddle of their bicycles more than 100 years ago.

Women cycle differently

But if we think cycling is gender-neutral, we are wrong. A majority of women cycle in a more defensive way, requiring more security. Meanwhile, if we look at what has been done for Bremen cyclists in recent years, it appears that cycling policy has evolved for young, male, fast cyclists. Some of them might like cycling on the road more than on a cycle path, but to do so requires courage and speed. Slow cyclists, or indeed more anxious people, don’t enjoy mixing with cars on the road. It is seen as dangerous, and certainly some car drivers see cyclists as an obstacle, of which they try to get rid of by hassling them and blowing their horns.

 Women are more vulnerable

 In traffic incidents at junctions, more female cyclists are injured or killed than males. One study notes: „Two thirds of cyclists involved in an accident with a car negotiating a junction were women according to the GDV-accident-data-files, 45 % were over 65, most of them cycling at 15km/h.“

 A British study comes out with the same results: „Women seem to be more vulnerable, maybe because they are less likely to claim the car lane and thus hug the kerb. In the year 2009 10 of 13 killed cyclists in London were women, 8 of these killed by left-turning lorries.“

 Most women want separated cycle lanes or paths

These figures tell us that especially women need separated cycle lanes or paths and they are asking for it: „76% of female cyclists or women who want to cycle, tell us, that they would cycle more, if there were proper cycle paths.“


Amsterdam: Cycling for all of us

 Bremen seems not to be interested in womens’ wishes

 Despite this, traffic planners in Bremen fail to consider the varying needs of cyclists, be it children, elderly people or women. Recently built cycling infrastructure in Bremen is geared to the young, sporty (mostly male) cyclist, who likes to mix with cars without any worries. More and more women protest, pointing out that they don’t want to cycle on specific roads.

 Fahrradstraße (cycle street) Parkallee in one of these: illegal parking narrows the space and loads of non residential car drivers speed through it. Cyclists are overtaken ignoring the necessary distance of 1,50m and they suffer from motorists who hassle them, blow their horns and shout at them. A similar problem is the Humboldtstraße, also a so-called cycle street: Bremen tends to develop „cycle streets light“, quite the contrary to the diligently developed cycle streets of the first years, in the 1980s. This has a lot to do with Bremen’s cycling advocates, who still today argue for vehicular cycling on the road.

 A new development is a „green wave“ for cyclists. But it is planned at a speed of 18 km/h – most women though cycle more slowly. The idea behind it is good, the way it is done is once again „light-headed“.

Transport planning needs to be more feminine

 A successful gender mainstreaming in the transport sector is a sign of quality for planners and politicians – given how household structures develop and new life styles emerge. But if we want a just transport plan we need to look at the needs of all traffic members. It is ridiculous that planning for cycling tends to forget the majority – the women – and their needs. Transport planning needs to be more feminine. We need more space, security, no anxieties, equal rights and a gentle working together.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

A Never-Ending Story

The never-ending story about the illegally parked car of the key cutting company in Bremen’s Wachmannstraße rumbles on. Little has changed since our last post in summer 2017. The yellow car still sits day and night on the pavement directly on top of the guidance system for visually impaired citizens.

Councillors searching for evidence

During the summer holidays the little yellow obstacle did not appear, but straight after the hols it went back to „normal“. Local councillors and others repeatedly pointed this violation of existing law out to the police, but the bobbies did not seem to believe in it. They showed a „Who are you?“ attitude. And they did not want to check it, not even by their colleague who cycles in this area every day.

The speaker of the Schwachhausen council finally filed a charge. So the police happily gave her some tasks: Take photos, note date and time, but not just that: take a second picture four minutes later, otherwise there is no evidence for parking. But if you look into the German highway code (StVO) you realize all this is not necessary. §12 tells you: „Parking happens if you leave your car or stay with your car for more than 3 minutes in one place.“ So leaving your car is enough evidence for parking. A picture of an empty car without a driver is sufficient. But our reliable councillor took her pictures – click ….4 minutes of waiting….click. She did that for a quite of lot of times and finally handed her production over to the police. What happened? Nothing.

4th January and 13th January

Questionnaire as an incentive?

After her request about her charge she was told by „the guardians of the law“ that the car owner received a questionnaire. The result is amazing: Now his yellow obstacle appears even more often and stays for longer than before – for days it is not moved, blocking the access to the tram for disabled people.

8th January, early and late evening

Now the tram has to stop in a way that her back part doesn’t reach the tram stop area any more. And even other cars have started to copy the behaviour of the yellow car driver.

So, what is going on?

So our police – for whatever reason – openly supports illegal parking that obstructs and jeopardises other citizens. Our key cutter relies on their support. The guardians of the law have decided to prioritise convenient car parking over the rights of disabled people, and a small company gets a free licence for illegal parking. It’s pointless trying to point out the legal situation, to deliver evidence or file a charge. Even the appeals of the local council and its subcommittees are dismissed. 

This story is a metaphor for a dominant (though thankfully not all-encompassing) stream of thought in Bremen’s upper echelons. Where there is limited public road space, prioritise cars, and even parked cars, over sustainable modes of transport, even when this disadvantages the already disadvantaged.

Creeping Parking Disease

We’ve got a short update on our story of the keycutter from Schwachhausen. As readers may recall, a key-cutting service on Wachmannstrasse was repeatedly parking its service vehicles right outside the shop, blocking the guiding system for visually-impaired tram users at the tram stop. At first the police didn’t recognise the problem, but when informed chose to do nothing. Continue reading Creeping Parking Disease

The Key Stone Cop Out

In Bremen-Schwachhausen, or to be precise, Wachmannstrasse, there is a key cutting shop. On most working days, you’ll see its yellow or white company car parked outside. Very normal, right? Well no. The car is actually parked at a tram stop, right on top of a guiding system where visually impaired people can orient themselves with their sticks on a ripple. In other words, it’s parked illegally.

Continue reading The Key Stone Cop Out

Illegal parking – Unavoidable Evil or Misplaced Tolerance?

The explosion in private transport is a major problem for our cities. A growing number of cars are increasingly dominating our public space, pushing cyclists and pedestrians to the edge. Bremen is no different. However, unlike a number of other European cities, here the struggle for space is left to people on the ground, inevitably benefitting the strongest – car traffic.

Continue reading Illegal parking – Unavoidable Evil or Misplaced Tolerance?

Scharnhorststraße Cycle Street Plans – Who Benefits?

scharnhorststrasse
Scharnhorststrasse

Last month, on 24th November, the Office for Road Traffic (ASV) made public its plans for the conversion of Scharnhorststraße to a Cycle Street. The project, part of the city’s  Traffic Development Plan (VEP) 2025, was presented to the meeting of the Advisory Council Schwachhausen on 24.11.2016.

Continue reading Scharnhorststraße Cycle Street Plans – Who Benefits?

Bremen Cycle Streets: Too Compromised?

Cycle Streets are an important issue in Bremen. Over the coming weeks we’ll be publishing a short series of  posts on the theme. The first comes from Gudrun Eickelberg, a Green politician and artist.

In recent years, Bremen’s status as a Cycling City has been officially articulated by setting up a number of so-called Fahrradstraßen – Cycle Streets. For example, Bremen’s Transport Development Plan 2025 states that “Cycle Streets (…) are to be established in the main cycle network and in roads with an important connection function and high cycling traffic”.

Continue reading Bremen Cycle Streets: Too Compromised?