18 August, 2010

From Angers to Palma : experiences in cyclable lanes

Palma, as well as Angers, but may be more recently, implemented the promotion of cyclable lanes. The first ways dedicated to bikes circle the city while a few ones go throughout down town. And some aspects of that policy could be useful to apply in Angers.

The cyclables ways, outside inner city, use the former pavements. Distinctive by colors, materials and road signs, they allow the pedestrians to walk safely if they don't use the surface dedicated to bikes. Bikes and pedestrians are along each others when both have to cross a street. Lights indicate when they are prior or no prior to cars. These ones seem very respectful of the rules protecting the bike traffic.

In town, when it is not possible to use part of the pavements, bikes circulate on the streets in an distinct and protected lane. Even the buses and cabs can't use this way, making it safer. Bikes are parked in special zones which the number and the design could yet be improved. But the most ingenious scheme is the two cyclables lanes are together in the same side of the road making tjme more visible and less costly to create.

16 August, 2010

On sea from Barcelona to Palma de Mallorca

Early in summer mornings, Palma de Mallorca looks, seen from the sea, like a golden woman lying on a beach for the sun. Surrounded by mountains, the city sleeps in its nest. Hundreds of boats are kindly waiting in the harbour the time to sail in the bay.

Once on the ground, the first impression comes from the atmosphere : the air is wet. At the time of the arrival, the streets are empty. Did the night just finished? In the inner city, dominated by the cathedral, nevertheless bars and shops are opening. Palma welcomes hundreds of thousands of tourist in july and august. Their presence is a huge source of revenue for the local economy.

The island, from its southern face, shows a dense urbanization. Hills are covered by villas. The coast itself has been over constructed since decades and the island real estate economy soared since the 2000's. Nothing, in climate, architecture, etc is common with Angers but may be, some comparisons could be helpful?

13 August, 2010

On the road from Perpignan to Barcelona

The frontier between France and Spain is just at the top of the highway what gives the feeling to the drivers they are going to fall from a world to another. The cars have just to slow to let their occupants be seen by the policemen of the two countries. The waiting queue of La Junquera, the village where, formerly, the road traffic crossed, is no more than a souvenir, relegated to the past.

Spain starts with Catalogne, a province with its own language, prior to castellano. Once the Pyrénées are back, the highway enlarges and directs the cars to many seaside resorts of the Costa Brava. The cities and their commercial and industrial suburbs have grown rapidly and are now hit by the commercial crisis which produced shops closures and a abrupt ceases of buildings constructions.

After nearly two hours, Barcelona, the capital of Cataluna, is in view. Its industrial nature is visible "thanks" to the permanent fog over the city. New buildings along the sea testify of the ambitions of the inhabitants. The road finished with the Estaciones Maritimas where boats are waiting...

11 August, 2010

On the road, from Toulouse to Perpignan

The highway arrives in Toulouse at the top of a hill. The city looks indstrial and busy. Many symbols of its activity dedicated to aviation and space can be seen of both sides of the road inside the urban area.

After the city, the highway is called "Autoroute des deux mers". This name is appropriate because the road is a link between two different eco-systems. At a precise point untitled "Water share line", the landscape changes completely from oceanic to mediterranean appearance. The fields look dry and rocky. That becomes especially true after Carcassonne, a medieval city, vivid testimony of the middle age.

Then the mediterranean sea is in view. The highway leaves Narbonne on the North and turns main South toward Perpignan the last french town before the spanish frontier. Located at the bottom of the Pyrénées, the city is in a flat zone where vegetables are grown. This aspect ends abruptedly when the highway climbs the mountain...

10 August, 2010

On the road from Bordeaux to Toulouse

The approach of Bordeaux is visible with the frequence of pines forests. They surrounds the highway, recording the drivers they are again close to the sea.

The city itself is crossed by the Gironde river whose color is very different from the Loire. The first is grey while the second is green. Bordeaux reveals its history thanks to numerous churches which emerges from the urban landscape.

Just after the Gironde capital, the highway turns South East, crossing the universe of Bordelais famous wineyards. This time, the farms of Poitou-Charentes are replaced by castles and villas. After, the highway drives through fields planted with fruit trees, crosses several rivers dominated by castles. The first hills of Pyrénées mountains are visible arriving in Toulouse...

08 August, 2010

On the road from Angers to Bordeaux

The road trip from Angers to ... took about 24 hours at the beginning of august. It could seem long long but the attention paid to the changing landscapes crossed along the journey help to "overcome" the traffic and, quite often, the traffic jams.

The first significant change comes just after the Loire river. On the Angers side, all the roofs are black (slates). After, the are mixed with tiles. Then the highway drives on West toward La Roche sur Yon. The air is coming a little bit fresh.

Then, the roads turns abruptly to the South along the Vendée, Deux-Sèvres and Charente-Maritime districts. Another change is surging : wineyards are surrounding the road which goes to Bordeaux...