The big difference between Dutch and Slovenian cycling infrastructure is not that there is much more cycling infrastructure in the Netherlands. The difference is a fundamental one, Dutch cycling infrastructure is made for cyclists, Slovenian cycling infrastructure is made for motorists. While in the Netherlands bike paths are meant to give cyclists a faster and safer journey, in Slovenia the goal seems to be to get bikes off the road so that bicyclists can’t slow traffic.
Slovenia is a beautiful country for cycling. In the country’s idyllic green landscape you can find many quiet roads where hardly any cars go. Conclusion: Slovenia’s best cycling infrastructure is its dense network of quiet country roads.
Slovenia’s worst cycling infrastructure is its actual cycling infrastructure. It’s wonderful that Slovenia is investing in biking, every year more bike paths are made, but the cycling paths in the country are not very suited to be used for riding a bike. It is especially unfortunate considering that building a good bicycle path costs just as much as building a bad one.
A good bicycle path is wide enough for cyclists to pass each other, is clearly separated from the road and the sidewalk, is safe at crossings and has a good road surface that is free of dirt and debris. This is an example of a proper bike path in Amsterdam. See further for the cycling paths in Slovenia.
The Slovenian bike paths are narrow, combined with the sidewalk, dangerous at crossings and often dirty or poorly maintained.
It is not difficult to find strange, bad or dangerous situations in the Slovenian cycling infrastructure. To illustrate this I will show here Trzaska Cesta in Ljubljana, one of the main roads leading in to Ljubljana. If Ljubljana really wants to be a Green Capital that wants its people to commute by bike than this is one of the roads that should have perfect cycling infrastructure. But in a circle of just 200 metres you find flaws in the cycling infrastructure which only lead to one reaction: why?
It are situations like these that make the bike an unattractive alternative for the car.
Room for the bus (and car), but where do bicyclists go?
If Trzaska Cesta goes straight, why can’t the bike path?
The situation 100 metres further on. A dangerous point created by a needless diversion of the bike path.
Another diversion. And what happens when cycling infrastructure is bad and illogical? Bicyclists go their own way.
A similar situation 200 metres further on. Trzaska Cesta goes straight, cyclists are led….
…through this alley…
…and end up on this parking. Needless to mention that also here nobody takes the diversion.
The problem with bike paths
The most common kind of cycling path in Slovenia lies elevated next to the road. At crossings it lowers to road level. The common path is bumpy and therefore uncomfortable.
The common path is dangerous. Because crossings and exits are on the same level as the road, cars are unhindered when crossing the bike path. Nothing forces drivers to slow down and look if cyclists approach.The result, I (and with me many other cyclists) avoid these paths as much as possible, choosing the normal road over the bike path.
Another example of a not very well thought-through situation. This brand new bike path merges with a a one-way road in Ljubljana in a blind corner. Bicyclists can’t see if there are cars coming, cars can’t see if there are any bicyclists coming. The safe way here? Avoid the bike path and stay on the road so that you can see the cars and the cars can see you.
To end on a positive note, Slovenia is and will continue investing in cycling infrastructure.
Until recently it wasn’t possible to go by bike on the most southern part of Slovenska Cesta in Ljubljana. A brand new bike path now makes that possible. Good things are happening, but please Slovenia, just get it right now. The costs are the same, but the results are so much better.