Tuesday, 31 July 2012

Boris Bikes arrive in Warsaw

Having praised the near-ubiquitous Boris Bikes that have revolutionised cycling in Central London, it's good to see that a similar scheme has just been introduced in Warsaw.

Above: the bikes have just appeared and are immediately attracting attention. Having taken a close look at the instructions (in four languages - Polish, English, German and Russian), I must say they are not entirely clear.

There's a requirement for pre-registration, which initially stunted the take-up of Boris Bikes in London. After six months, procedures were simplified and mere possession of a credit card can allow a tourist in London to ride off with a hire bike (if it's not returned, the credit card is simply debited for the amount). And the London scheme, launched in June 2010 with 5,000 bikes, was supported with advertising from the outset, whilst Warsaw's Veturilo bikes are still without a sponsor.

Full details of the new Warsaw scheme (in English) here. (The registration page does not yet work on the English version of the site).

As the sign-up fee is a mere 10 złotys, I have registered, and look forward to wizzing around central Warsaw on a... Hanna Bike? Probably not. Unlike London's mayor, Hanna Gronkiewicz Waltz is not associated with bicycles and cycling, even though under her watch the provision of cycle paths has greatly improved (her predecessor's highways spokesman claimed that the bicycle was the vehicle of the backward countryside). I promise my readers a test-ride as soon I get a pass-code sent to me by e-mail.

Today I rode my bike to Ursynów Park+Ride, over the new footbridge with cycle ramps (HURRAH! AT LAST! AT LAST! OPEN AT LAST!) to Las Kabacki, through to ul. Moczydłowska, and thence by cycle path nearly all the way to the P+R. Nearly I write, because the road engineers have stopped the path just short of its gates, it's devilishly difficult for cyclists to get to. Dismounting and crossing two busy roads as a pedestrian is the only legal way. Anyway, no time for moans - let's now celebrate the new footbridge over Puławska (below). It's the same design as the one on Al. Niepodległości linking both parts of Pole Mokotowskie, nicely profiled for easy climbs and gentle descents (skid marks show at least one rushing cyclist has slammed into the barriers!)

Even more reason to dump the car and make the most of the summer, get on your bike and ride (if only to the P+R), take Metro into town, then ride to your final destination on a hire-bike.

This time last year:
Getting ready for the 'W'-hour flypast

This time two years ago:
A century of Polish scouting


toyah said...

Her predecessor claimed so? That is very interesting. Can you get me a link to this one, please?

Michael Dembinski said...

@ Toyah:
The best-known quote is this one:
""Warszawa to nie wieś, żeby po niej rowerem jeździć" but in terms of links, try this , and this.

However, today of all days, I give thanks for the fact that Mayor Kaczyński left Warsaw such a fine museum commemorating the Uprising, so I forgive him for neglecting cyclists and cycle path.

toyah said...

The quote you are referring to comes from "Marek Woś, rzecznik prasowy Zarządu Dróg Miejskich". Gronkiewicz Waltz is not by any means rzecznik prasowy Zarządu Dróg Miejskich, is she?
Another thing is that if she somehow were one, I would not be very surprised.

Michael Dembinski said...

@ Toyah - you are right - I have corrected the quote; I should have checked. However,looking at that long list of quotes, the majority of them come from Lech Kaczyński's watch - certainly a lot less cycle-friendly than HGW's officials.

AndrzejK said...

Once again Toyah mentions the PiS legacy. Whilst the museum of the uprising is very credible and necessary I would have thought that the no 1 role of the President of Warsaw should have been infrastructure. All Kaczynski achieved was effectively blocking infrastruture tenders just in case some dirty and despised businessman made a profit. On the principle that you cannot be critisised for doing nothing I guess he was a resoudant success. The fact that other towns got the lions share of EU money is of course neither here nor there. We can always be proud of the Museum to Warsaw's greatest human tragedy when stuck in traffic jams. And this is not just my opinion. Read the comments and views of Karski who was fully aware of the failure of Mikolajczyk (SL not PiS) to get any assurances from Stalin and then heroically forgot to tell the AK leadership that they should not count on any help from the Soviets. And don't get me wrong. I am full of admiration for the soldiers and scouts who faught. Just such a pity that once more Poland was led by imbeciles. And why are the succesful uprisings not mentioned or clebrated (Slaskie and Wielkopolskie)?

And lastly of course HGW does not have a sense of humour or any self criticism as opposed to Boris. Maybe Polish politicians should take a leaf from his book rather than looking for non existent conspiracies.

toyah said...

It doesn't matter. You suggested that Lech Kaczyński was an idiot, and the message lived on.
But still - this is not the actual problem. The point is that you really believe he was one.

Sigismundo said...

Considering it costs just 2.60pln (about 0.50 GBP) for a 'short hop' of 20 mins in Warsaw by either tram or train (including changes), and bearing in mind the somewhat homicidal behaviour of Warsaw car drivers towards cyclists, I wonder how good the take up of this scheme will be... Nevertheless, a very worthy initiative. Shame there is no one in Polish politics with the charisma of Boris; or indeed with any charisma at all.

Anonymous said...

Are the temporary traffic lights gone yet?

Michael Dembinski said...

@ Anonymous -

Yes, they disappeared while we were in Britain on holiday. At long last!