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Bicycle lane barriers in Rīga bring trouble for emergency teams

Barriers, bollards and bars separating bicycle lanes from motor vehicle traffic in Rīga are installed for cyclist safety, but have caused dissatisfaction among drivers, Latvian Television reported July 3.

LSM already reported that the newly installed bicycle lanes in the center of Rīga, for example, on Bruņinieku Street, have caused businesses to reconsider their location due to delivery trouble. Meanwhile, the medics of the Emergency Medical Service (NMPD) point out that valuable time must be spent avoiding the streets with bicycle barriers because they are no longer able to navigate traffic.

There are various different types of barrier used to keep cars off cycle lanes, including vertical bollards and horizontal bars on the road surface.

Since there have been barriers on the streets of Rīga, ambulances have been driving on the sidewalk more frequently. Stopping by a building with barriers in front of it has also become more difficult, and medics sometimes have to stop at another address. NMPD assistant Ervīns Šmatčenko said: “[..] the equipment is very heavy and, moreover, it is often not only the equipment to be carried but also the patient itself.”

NMPD chief Liene Cipule noted: “It is not clear how we drive up to the addresses, where we can park the car, whether we can, so to say, drive over these barriers if we need to. It certainly creates frustration for employees.”

Rīga City Council Traffic Department (RDSD) said, though, that rescuers were allowed to drive over the fairly soft barriers if necessary.

Medics have indicated that the barriers are particularly bothersome on Bruņinieku Street, where there are two bike lanes. One is separated by poles and the other by barriers. Previously, the NMPD were able to drive on sidewalks but now it is not possible, so medics try to avoid the street.

On the other hand, State Fire and Rescue Service (VUGD) representative Krišjānis Mincenbergs said that the firefighters were worried about something else: “There are the courtyards in which, in the evenings, it is hardly possible to enter. If one firetruck is in the courtyard, it can be said quite certainly that there will be no space for the cistern or the high ladder.” But it's too early to say whether the barriers cause trouble, said Mincenbergs.

“Whether there will be more barriers  – it is more likely there will, because if we look at the Riga sustainable development plan, by 2030, the aim is to increase pedestrian safety in the streets of Riga,” said council transport department spokeswoman Lelde Rudzika.

 

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