Bike Risk in Warsaw

Bicycle Race?

Bicycle Race?

Today’s kamikazes do not fly planes. They ride the city’s cycle paths. I myself am one of them and there are times I am truly scared of cycling. The day before yesterday, a close encounter with a car ended in a bent wheel and a scratched bumper. There were of course the usual insults because the driver of the Mazda, who impetuously drove into the cycle lane and destroyed my bike, did not even bother to stop. At the end of the day, I was the guilty one as I was riding a cycle path at the precise moment when the driver decided to leave the car park. The fact that I had right of way meant absolutely nothing. In April, Warsaw city authorities announced that cyclists are just as often responsible for road traffic accidents as pedestrians and car drivers. Cycling may be booming at the moment, but Polish people still prefer to walk or use the car. The average Polish pedestrian will often step onto a cycle path without even looking to check if they are about to be hit by a speeding bike. After all, (in Warsaw) the pavement is right next to the cycle lane, so that’s OK. If something happens, the cyclist is the only one to blame. Even though the police can fine pedestrians strolling onto a cycle path, this regulation is not implemented as the police believe it makes no sense to punish anyone for such a petty misdemeanour.  Things get even worse when the cycle path or bike lane abruptly ends. According to the law, cyclists can use the road, but they should stick to the right side. If a cyclist attempts to pass a car in a traffic jam and the car suddenly pulls over and causes an accident, the cyclist is to blame, due to the fact it is illegal to overtake on the right. The main problem is that Polish people are not ‘mentally’ ready for the presence of bikes on the roads, also due to the inadequate training of future drivers. Materials distributed during driving courses leave the issue of the priority of bikes unsaid and exam questions, which were in force until January, did not even include a single question concerning bikes on the roads.

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