Should construction workers be hoisting dirt over cyclists’ heads?

by Lloyd Alter (@lloydalter) –

dirt-overhead

CC BY 2.0 Streetfilms

We have gone on before about the way they do construction in Copenhagen, how they always provide a decent path for cyclists, often at great expense. Clarence Eckerson Jr. was recently filming for Streetsfilms in Copenhagen and was impressed by this construction site, where they keep the bike lane open while digging a hole, lifting the dirt over while cyclists ride under.

In Copenhagen, A Road Crew Might Lift 100s of Pounds of Dirt Over Your Head While You are Bicycling! from STREETFILMS on Vimeo.

Apparently, according to James Thoem of Copenhagenize, it’s the law. (see an earlier Copenhagenize post on the subject here, where Mikael notes that “The City prioritises the bicycle traffic wherever possible in such situations. It doesn’t make much sense to build bicycle infrastructure and then not keep it clear”) Clarence writes:

I looked to our right to see this going on which I found completely amazing since in the United States they would have likely closed the road to cyclists. James shrugged and said it was typical and explained why. I saw dozens of cyclists riding just a few feet below the dirt scoop with hardly a notice. Just another reason why Copenhagen rocks!

Now I must say, I have watched the short video a number of times and never saw them move dirt while a cyclist was going through. In fact, it shows the crane operator waiting a few times until there was a break and moving the dirt then, but I assume that Clarence did. He thinks it’s great, but he is a bike activist, and I am an architect with some construction experience and I do not.

riding under?Streetfilms/Video screen capture

When it comes to construction projects in North America, cyclists are treated like dirt or worse- they are constantly put into situations of serious risk. But I would rather see the bike lane closed and have to ride around it than ride under this.

Copenhagen bike diversionLloyd Alter/ Copenhagen bike route protection/CC BY 2.0

They could have built a proper diversion around the construction like they did on this Copenhagen job site, but instead went for the quick and dirty approach of just lifting over the bike lane. Copenhagen is wonderful but sometimes, perhaps we should be careful what we wish for.

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