torsdag 21. august 2014

On A Cycle Path to Nowhere

Business took me to Tvedestrand and as I am on a sporty-fatty diet with 2 hour training sessions on the cards, i flung the bike in the car in the knowledge that most of the day could be stolen for training purposes.

I know the area pretty well for driving and cycling to some extent, and had notice that a long stretch of the E18 was under road works for over a year it seemed. I suspected this was the first of the dual carriageway which Hoyre and the Borgerlig talk on being rolled out everywhere faster than the last lot of lefties. However it proved to be the connection between two fine stretches of cycle path, long out in the country and away from the evils of suburban dog walkers and their effing extender leads and bad attitude to 'sharing' ie they get space at everyone elses expense. Rant yes.

The bigger rant though is that as with so much of the road system here, the cycle path is simply not joined-up-writing.

I chose not to start in Tvedestrand where the cycle route splits from the road routes along the coast and up to the E18 main cycle artery as it could be. This is because there is a bloody dangerous 600 m or so of twisty, narrow road with a nasty 1:8 gradient for the return trip. The road is so narrow that you cannot in dire emergency pass a cyclist without going over the white line. Howevver the cycle path , or cycle-pedestrian-bridle path as it is by signage, is a nicely engineered 3m wide route with only a few tight bends and a couple of garage forecourts to cross with caution.

I had done some of the route before on another chance occaision, using a little under two hours. So I wanted to extend this over to 2 hours by exploring further into Arendal. I had presumed that the cycle path was at the side of the road, marked off, on the old E18 route into Arendal north. However it becomes a twisty road where you are in traffic again, with a steep hill. It is wider though.

So the ends of the beast are not joined up properly to the centres of population who may care to utilise the route for commuting, which is healthy, or going out from the front door with the family for a sunday doddle on the bikes.

This shows some of the stupidity with planning here and local councils versus the region and the state. The other example which springs to my mind and probably many a Norwegian who travels often to Larvik or Kristiansand from Oslo, is the stretch past Torp Airport in Vestfold which remained resolutely single carriageway and accident strewn until a couple of months ago. Like a non mans land of idiocy in regional planning versus local sloth and inaction, it was bounded by dual carriagway on either side, while it runs in fact through gentle rolling farmland ripe for four lanes and a central reservation in stead of subsidy per acre for Farmer Ole Giles.

The idiocy is amoplified when you learn that the council areas who were so sloth like were Hoyre FrP controlled and that now there will be more toll stations on the route.

The thing is like the cycle path island cut off by a moat of being in traffic, things can be agreed upon but only when the money is agreed upon doth work start. And that can mean that it starts despite it being a waste of money, or an alternative plan being better, or a down sized plan being better, or an alternative virgin route being more cost effective.

Same in Oslo" at one point in Furudalen the E6 north and south consists of a total of eight lanes wide, yet it feeds into by in large the ring way which is a joke from an east european country in 1981. Now the Swedes have egg on their faces because the final stretch of E6 from the continent to hamar which is not four lanes is over som boggy moors on their manor.

Britain, German, France can all build a national network of roads and then of course completely overload them because new motorways are a magnet for cars and drive the commuter belt house price boom. That is not going to be so extreme in Norway, with most Oslo Akershus dwellers not being interested in pressing flesh outside their own solar rectum. They fly. Apart from the Kragero and Lyngor crowd who shoot down to their properties in southland for a meagre few weeks in the summer and cause traffic chaos.

Now there is a big focus on the E39 from K'sand to Stavanger. It is a pretty lightly trafficed road compared to any European motorway, and is maybe on a par with the A9 in terms of lorries, hard to say, there never seem to be that many on it really. It has some major engineering challenges for four lanes, but that is the promise. Currently K'sand is still enjoying an oil equipment boom, very little of which gets shipped to stavanger, but they want to have a service rub off loing term as building stuff leads to fixing the same stuff eventually.  However how long will it all last ? Is the investment to show off ' we have four lanes Oslo-Stavanger' such a brag when everyone who is anyone of importance uses SAS or Norwegian Shuttle on the short flight  from Gardemoen. Howevver it is agreed upon in the borgerlig more or less, so now it is only the money to agree on...ahem, well they want to be able to raid the international investments part of the Oil Fund in order to pay for it. The inlands investment fund is a poor country cousin and would hardly pay the Oslo parliaments civil servants pensions let alone make huge, toll free road investments.

If it does go ahead then it could be a white elephant within 20 years if oil prices fall. I am not against road improvements and bypasses and some stretches of four lane and crawler lane on it. Will they not see their folly or are there just too many blue tinted votes  in it to stop the ball rolling now?

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