New bike lanes to be installed in Rīga this spring

This week, the Rīga municipality will start installing cycle lanes on the carriageways in several neighborhoods in Rīga. By the end of the month, they will be laid in Mežciems, Āgenskalns and Ķīpsala, as well as in Čiekurkalns and Mežaparks, at a cost of €160,000, thus connecting the cycling infrastructure of the neighborhoods, Latvian Radio reported on May 6.

In Riga, the municipality is going to install cycle lanes on three routes by the end of May. In Āgenskalns and Ķīpsala, a connection between Vanšu Bridge and Uzvaras Park, where there is an interruption, is to be created on the section of Balasta Dam from Krišjāņa Valdemāra Street to Daugavgrīvas Street.

Cycle lanes are also going to be installed in Mežciems along Gaiļezera Street in both directions, where the speed limit is going to be reduced to 30 kilometers per hour, similar to Balasta Dam.

In Čiekurkalns and Mežaparks, bike lanes will be installed on Viskaļu and Ezermalas streets, so that residents can move between the two neighborhoods safely and comfortably, the  Rīga City Council's Department for Outdoors and Mobility said.

"There will be some temporary inconveniences, of course, during the implementation process, but after that the conditions will be similar to today, only safer. The parking spaces that are on the sides of the streets in both Gaiļezers Street and Balasta Dam will remain, except for one route in Ezermalas Street - some parking spaces might disappear.

"Given that street reconstruction solutions are a long-term process that we cannot design and build in one or two years, these are simple solutions where we divide the carriageway between cyclists and motorists and also introduce a lane width for motorists that complies with the regulations. On the streets where we do this, we do not reduce the number of lanes, but make them narrower," said Oto Ozols, Deputy Head of the Cycling Infrastructure Division.

Over the next few weeks, Riga's cycling infrastructure network will increase by eight kilometers to a total of more than 130 kilometers. However, residents have to wait between five and ten years for the full network, Ozols noted, while acknowledging that the work on bike lane connections in Riga is endless.

However, Māris Jonovs, a city activist and head of the association "Drošās ielas" (Safe Streets), is not satisfied with the capital's pace, believing that the Cycling Infrastructure Division lacks political support.

"These three routes that are being talked about are actually last year's works, which planned a much larger amount of neighborhoods. Vecmīlgrāvis, Jugla, Čiekurkalns, unfortunately, remain without much-needed and much-awaited cycling infrastructure. Somehow we are not going forward or, at times, we are still going backward," he said,

Juris Zvirbulis, traffic expert and President of the Latvian Automobile Society, believes that pedestrians and cyclists should be a priority in the city, while pointing out that the municipality needs to create a convenient network of bypasses for motorists.

"[Cycling infrastructure] built in stages, in phases, will allow Rīga to create a network where children can also move to and from school in peace and safety, and build a cycling tradition. Of course, adults will be able to use a very healthy and ecological mode [of transport]," said Zvirbulis.

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