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City cycling profiles and riding habits
When I finished my bachelor's study in my hometown, Taipei, I came to Munich, Germany for pursuing a master's degree in Transportation Systems to strengthen my theoretical background and practice experience in planning sustainable transport systems. The cycling network in Munich is complete and well-organized. Except in some areas nearby the main station that has chaotic traffic without bike lanes and sufficient parking spaces, other urban districts, suburban areas, and rural areas nearby Munich are fully equipped with mostly separate bike lanes and well connected to each surrounding area.
My cycling mental states
The main goal of this article is to describe my cycling experience during my typical commuting trip in Taipei city. In the whole article, I will use my 3-level mental states during my riding to describe to what extent I am aware of the surrounding. The 3-level mental states are classified as follows:
Totally immersed in the fun of cycling without any awareness of my surroundings. In this mental state, I would sing my favorite songs and my view is on the front without any specific focus on specific things. Sometimes, I do a sprint out of the saddle mimicking the role of Yowamushi Pedal, which is the anime of road bike racing. Therefore, I fully enjoy the riding without any stress.
Partially enjoy the movement with awareness of specific things or areas. In this mental state, I would stop singing and focus on how to interact with specific objects such as pedestrians, cyclists in front, etc., or specific areas such as the side of on-street parking beside my riding where car door could suddenly open and hit the riders. Therefore, I am still able to enjoy the riding and to be cautious in the meanwhile.
Tighten my nerve and be cautious with awareness of entire surroundings. In this mental state, I would be fully aware of my surrounding in order to immediately respond to any sudden happenings. This mental state often happens when I was in the mixed traffic without bike lanes and explicit signs for cyclists. Therefore, I always feel stressed and insecure.
Finally, the following chapters will describe my cycling experience of the daily commuting trips in Taipei city based on my mental state levels with street views of my trips.
Cycling in Munich city
The cycling network in Munich is shown in Figure 13. Almost all arterial roads and secondary roads have dedicated bike lanes. Besides, most of the residential ways are shared lanes with a speed limit of 30 km/hr. However, the city of Munich does not classify the shared lane as a category of bike lane.
My daily commuting trip in Munich is shown in Figure 14, which is about 45 minutes with a 17 km overall distance. Since I was living out of Munich city and my workplace is in the city center nearby the main station, halfway of my commuting trip is along the countryside, and the other half is in the urban area. Most of the commuting routes are covered with dedicated bike lanes along the countryside and shared lanes account for the majority in the urban area.
So, let the journey begins! First, I went through the residential area shown in Figure 15 where is a shared lane with a speed limit of 30km/hr. Therefore, my MSL is 2 to be aware of the vehicles passing by. After a turn, I entered the road with the bike lane sign shown in Figure 16. Though there is also a speed limit of 30km/hr, the mixed traffic made my MSL stay at 2 to keep a safe distance from vehicles.
After riding through mixed traffic, I entered the dedicated bike lane that is separate from the traffic so that my MSL became 1 that I can fully enjoy riding without worrying about traffic, and since here in the countryside, there are fewer riders that could potentially interfere my ride. Soon, the bike lane merges into the road with a bike lane sign that is shown in Figure 17. My MSL then rose to 2 to keep a safe distance from vehicles passing by at high speed. After the bike lane was separated again from traffic, the bike lane stopped and I had to cross the road to continue the ride. This is shown in Figure 18, and my MSL was kept at 2 to check if there are no cars coming from both directions so that I could cross the road.
After safely crossing the road, there is a long straight dedicated bike lane right extending all the way to downtown Munich that is shown in Figure 19. At this moment my MSL became 1 that I start singing songs with full speed sprinting pretending I am a Tour de France rider. I also took advantage of this long straight road to train my physical strength with continuously high speed unless there is an oncoming rider that I would decelerate.
After a sweaty and intensive ride, I entered Munich city and my MSL rose to 2 since the bike lane is shown in Figure 20 became narrower and I was aware of the on-street parking vehicles besides my riding where the door could suddenly open and hit the riders.
Afterwhile, I entered the city center of Munich where most of the roads are shared roads that are shown in Figure 21. Besides cars, there are also many buses going through shared roads. Therefore, my MSL rose to 3 that I fully concentrated on all my surroundings, including passing vehicles and buses, and on-street parking vehicles which could suddenly rush out.
After I survive the shared roads, bike lanes appeared again with the traffic all the way to the office shown in Figure 22. Therefore, my MSL decreased to 2 but I was still aware of the right-turning vehicles and keep them at a safe distance. Besides, there were many bike commuters on the bike lane in the city center, so I had to also keep safety distance and grasp the timing to overtake snail’s speed riders.
Finally, there was a tunnel cross under the railway, though there is a dedicated bike lane shown in Figure 23. I am personally not fond of the atmosphere in the tunnel and my MSL maintain at 2 since the dedicated bike lane mitigated my attention to be aware of the traffic, even if I still felt stressed due to the darkness and noise of vehicles. After going through the tunnel, I eventually arrived at my workplace shown in Figure 24.
In conclusion, my MSL during my commuting trip in Munich is shown in Figure 25. My MSL is mostly at 1 in the countryside since there are dedicated bike lanes that are straight, wide, and few riders. Therefore, I fully enjoyed the riding without being aware of anything except there is some shared section and one disconnect point between two bike lanes that resulted in rising my MSL to 2 temporarily. After entering Munich city, my MSL mostly stayed at 2 because the bike lane became narrower, more riders, many nearby vehicles, and sometimes rode with traffic. Therefore, I partially enjoyed the ride and I am aware of specific objects such as on-street parking vehicles and other riders. In the city center, my MSL rose to 3 sometimes since there were many shared roads involving vehicles, buses, and on-street parking vehicles with relatively narrow roads. I had entirely focused on keeping a safe distance with vehicles and buses and also being ready to react to the sudden rush of cars parked on street.
In general, I had the best riding experience with a dedicated bike lane, less bike traffic, and without vehicles nearby whether they are mobile or parked beside me, though other factors such as weather conditions and road construction would affect my route choice that further change my riding experience. There is room for improvements regarding riding experiences in both cities. Some shared roads in the city center are wide enough to mark the bike lane sign so that can keep cyclists a safe distance from buses and vehicles.
And this month, I moved to Copenhagen, Denmark for starting my new cycling research journey. There will be definitely lots of riding experiences to share with.