Čaka Street bicycle lanes likely to be removed in autumn

After less than a year, the bike lanes on Aleksandra Čaka Street in Rīga will likely be removed in autumn, Latvian Radio reported July 8.

The aim of the experiment launched last summer was to perform traffic movement measurements to see if permanent cyclist lanes would be plausible.

The cyclists who spoke to Latvian Radio said that the experiment was successful. “I like that as a cyclist,” Rihards said. Aleksandrs said, “There are no complaints. I don't bother pedestrians, I can go undisturbed." Elīna added: “The separation of lanes is a logical step, I think, because before that the street was as if it were wider, but there was chaos between the cars.”

For drivers, meanwhile, thoughts on Čaka Street's experimental bike lane differ.

Edvards said: “Bike lines are often bothersome. Four cars can't fit next to one another now, they could before. It's good for cyclists, but it's harder for cars.” Gerda said, “Everything is bad. First of all, no one is using that bike lane. And secondly, it's such a burden, because the pavement is wide enough to cycle. Consequently, the street is narrow. If the trolley bus stops, then all the other traffic stops.”

In her opinion, the project should be stopped because there are enough other places to ride a bicycle, for example, along Krišjāņa Barona Street.

The opinions of the City Council committee vary. Andris Morozovs, deputy of the opposition faction Harmony, said that many residents of the suburbs and other municipalities used Čaka Street to pass through Rīga. Looking at the current Riga infrastructure, it is inappropriate to install bike lanes on Čaka Street. First the bypass of the capital should be completed, believes Morozovs.

The committee meeting presented the study data and a survey showing that more than half of those people were not satisfied with the experiment.

The head of the traffic committee Olafs Pulk, said people are not satisfied because they have grown used to the previous organization, but would take time to accept the changes. He pointed out that the Čaka Street experiment was needed to make people avoid public transport during the pandemic. However, as traffic flows increase, there is a possibility that the experiment will have to be stopped.

It is likely that the bike lanes on Čaka Street will be removed after September 1.

Latvian Radio failed to find out how much this experiment has cost Rīga, as the head of the committee, Pulks, indicated that the City Council has devoted EUR 20,000 to the project, while opposition member Morozovs mentioned four times the costs, EUR 80,000 a year.

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