[vimeo http://www.vimeo.com/14815458 w=500&h=281] I was surprised to learn that Kuwait doesn’t have a single bike lane. It’s not really that hard to implement if there’s enough density to justify it. The idea is that it be used both for recreation and potentially for commuting. There are a few places in Kuwait where a bike lane can work. Once the metro is in place, I can see a lot more places that can benefit from a bike lane, but for now I think the waterfront, probably around Marina Mall heading south, is the best option for now.
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I would love it if Kuwait had bike lanes as I would definitely opt to bike instead of drive (when the weather is good) if I knew I wasn’t going to get killed! But the problem is, if you put in bike lanes people would treat them the way they currently do the hard shoulder: as an extra lane to speed past traffic on! You’d have to create a boundary between the lane and the road to prevent cars from getting into them.
I often bike (for pleasure rather than transport) up the coast between Salmiya and the city, but along the promenade rather than the road. It’s a pain when you have to cross over areas that are not part of the planned corniche, just as it is when you try to walk anywhere in Kuwait without sidewalks!
The best city I’ve ever biked in by far is Copenhagen, where bike lanes are almost as big as car lanes. You feel really safe as there is a real respect, on the part of car drivers, for cyclists and pedestrians alike.
Oh, I assumed that the bike lane would be on the sidewalk, and probably on the far side with a view to the water. The issue with bike safety is that you can only have real safety with numbers.
When you reach that critical mass of bikers it forces drivers to accept that they are not the only ones using the roads. That awareness of the existence of bicyclists is only achievable when you have a lot of people riding bicycles. Not one or two. I don’t think we can risk having a bike lane on an actual street, even if there’s a median between them, anytime soon. I think the first step would be to promote cycling in a safe and fun environment and take it from there.
I used to bike every weekend on the waterfront from Shaab by the Sea until the end of Salmiya by the port, and I used to do it along the sidewalks. The problem, if I remember correctly but my memory fails me since I don’t live in Kuwait, is that before the Marina Mall, the private clubs, like Corniche and some sort of Yacht or Boat Club eat up the waterfront, so bikes are forced to then get onto the road. Even if there is a smaller sidewalk along the road, the pavement is uneven and some parts are not rideable, you literally have to dismount and walk your bike for some stretches. On top of that, forcing you along the side of the road presents risks due to reckless drivers (as Farah mentions) and even more annoying if you are a female, countless harassment by guys more flipped out than the Victorian Era by the sight of a girl on a bycicle. Another problem that I had a lot was that the sidewalks along the waterfront were often very crowded with families (a GOOD thing, not complaining!) but it presents some obstacles for a biker. So, I decided to buy a little bell for my bike to try to use it to alert people who couldn’t see me should they have their backs turned…but because they weren’t used to associated the sound of a bell with bycicle, it didn’t really do me much help! I really did always appreciate when I saw other fellow bikers along the waterfront though, and I would gladly see any urban infrastructure to support more use!