Saturday, 22 September 2018

A Scandinavian Safari: Part 4 - Malmö - Slicker City

After travelling through the suburbs of Malmö in by last post, this week, I'm hitting the city itself to look at what has been deployed to make the city people-friendly.

Feeding the the developments around Västra hamnen, there are new roads which connect up with older parts of the city network. From day one, they have been built with active travel in mind and judging by the cycle parking at the secondary school, Västra Hamnen Skola, something has been done right.

For people in the UK, a school with lots of cycle parking being used and one which doesn't look like a fortress is rather unusual.

The general approach to walking and cycling around the city is for a paved footway with an asphalt cycleway at the same level. Personally, I prefer to see a stepped layout with a forgiving kerb which helps to define the difference between walking and cycling space. A step helps to make the layout legible and clear and may also help visually impaired people find the edge of the footway.

On the larger roads we also have a verge between the cycleway and the road which not only provides space for trees and traffic signs, it helps confine ramps to side roads away from people and space for floating waiting areas at crossings and bus stops.

At unsignalised junctions, we have parallel zebra crossings, although as I explained in my last post, the cycleway crossing doesn't necessarily give people cycling priority. I have since found that some crossings have a parallel crossing sign for drivers which require them to give way, but when you are cycling, you don't know!

As small side roads and junctions, we have continuous footways and cycleways with a change in level for drivers and I found that they did generally give way to people walking and cycling. One point which made me smile was the some of the separation details between walking and cycling where a triple line of granite setts are provided which do help give tactile separation. I was smiling because that's the detail being used in the London Borough of Enfield which goes to prove that nothing is new and designers just nick each other's ideas!

One of my favourite places in the city (from a geek point of view) was the junction of Skeppsbron and Neptunigatan which is on one side of the Central Station.

It's a large signalised T-junction with plenty going on, but modes are given their own space.

The cycleways are mainly 2-way and in parallel to pedestrian crossings (some are 1-way, but you are generally led to the correct position). In common with many other countries, people moving ahead get a green together and so turning drivers give way. Some junctions have some additional stages which separate certain vehicle movements or provide bus priority.

Talking of buses; there are loads (because of the interchange next to the station). because of the separation of modes, even with monsters like the double-articulated models (below), it's safe to cycle without having to worry about them.

However, even the most intuitive layouts can confused people, but where mistakes are managed, then it's only pride which gets hurt;

Personally, I do prefer the separated designs of the Netherlands where you are generally not having to expect drivers turning when you get a green (not always), but what is helpful in Malmö is the use of islands to give protection from turning drivers and to ensure they approach crossings perpendicularly, even if the islands are sometimes a bit too small;

This video gives an idea of how the junctions operate (junction of Gibraltargatan and Citadellsvägen);

As you can see, it's a simple two-stage layout which provides high traffic capacity and short waits for people walking and cycling, notwithstanding my health warning on a lack of separation in time.

Back by the station, the separation continues between the bus interchange and a canal;

This led me to the station cycle parking and gives you a glimpse of the cycle I was mooching about on - a Donkey Republic.

For those who want a quick run into the cycle park, there a channel next to the staircase. However, I saw a cargobike logo.

Round the corner I found a really long and gentle ramp which actually shows you the cycle park is below the level of the canal.

It was rather wonderful to see some cargocycle parking, even though the place was all pretty empty!

A nice touch was live transport information by the entrance to the cycle park.

Over the canal, we get into the old city and things are a little different. There are of course wider streets which have the same standards for walking and cycling, but where space is less generous then other techniques come into play.

In places, there little more than an advanced stop line to help and while the smaller streets in the city were very quiet, it didn't always feel comfortable.

However, people were still out cycling and it goes to show that in a place which has a pretty good network, the gaps are carried by it.

Luckily, the pedestrianised areas allowed cycling. As can be seen above, this is an entry to an area where motor traffic is restricted during the day - the sign reads "motor traffic prohibited". 

I think the times (on the blue plate) apply to when the restriction doesn't apply - i.e. 6pm to 5am during the week, the bracketed times are Saturdays and the day before a public holiday and the red times means Sundays and public holidays. The yellow sign means "no stopping" and being at the times the pedestrianised area doesn't operate merely means that you can drive through but not stop - presumably to access parking or loading areas. Please do correct me if I am wrong.

There are lots of squares in the city and where traffic-free, they are simply nice places to move through or to stop a while.

Because people without business in the city are given decent cycleways around the edge, there aren't people blasting through at commute speed which is something the UK really needs to sort out.

There are also modal filters which don't always work as intended. As you can see above, there is a cycle bypass to go into the street, whereas you mix with traffic leaving the one-way street). The people on the right have got that wrong.

It would be simpler to just have a no-entry except cycles sign at one end and just allow contraflow cycling, however, the island separated entry does give more protection at a conflict point.

Elsewhere, I saw filters which completely excluded motor traffic (above). We are in retrofit territory here as the road is pretty wide. Parking and access is maintained for those who want to bring a motor vehicle in, but through traffic runs on the larger parallel street. The location is here.

Here we have Friisgatan which until relatively recently was just another street with through traffic. I don't know exactly when or why, but it's now pedestrianised. The only formal work done to the street is the pedestrian zone signs at each end.

However, the informal work comprises of planters, pallet seats and astroturf as well as lots of tables and chairs from restaurants. It's a great example of tactical urbanism and it can show just how easy it is to transform a placed without having to repave it in expensive stone. This should be done more often.

There was more of this sort of treatment going on, although I wasn't sure if it was permanent or being used to support the festival which was on at the time I visited which also had other parts of the old city closed to motor traffic.

I really like Malmö. It's got a bit of everything from smart waterfront development, historic areas, shabby and well-worn places, plus lots of interesting surprises. Most of all I remember that for the flaws, it is just so damn easy (and relaxing) to cycle around.

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