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Local News Summary of July, 12th

  • Drunk police officer causes accident in Baselland
  • Hospital merger in danger: Weko investigates "market dominance"
  • Accident black spot at Wettsteinplatz & Co: cycle lanes will be a danger to everyone

Drunk police officer causes accident in Baselland

A police officer was found to be in an intoxicated state after causing a road accident in Pratteln, Baselland.
The accident happened at around 3am on Saturday morning when he crashed an unmarked police car into a barrier as he drove around a roundabout near the A2 Motorway. Nobody was injured.
According to latest information, the 55-year-old officer was in the unmarked car and was on call when the accident happened. He had been heading from Frenkendorf and was driving along Frenkendörferstrasse in the direction of Augst, Baselland, when the car collided with a crash barrier on a roundabout. The car came to a halt. The driver was uninjured but the heavily damaged car had to be towed away. An alcohol test conducted on the driver revealed he had 0,83 per mil of alcohol in his body.
The officer had to hand over his driving licence to the authorities and the case has been referred to the prosecution office in Baselland. The Baselland police service is, for their part, also taking their own actions.

Hospital merger in danger: Weko investigates "market dominance"

The Competitions Commission (WEKO) is to carry out a "deeper" examination the planned merger between the University Hospital of Basel and the Kanton Hospital of Baselland, it announced on Tuesday. In a statement, WEKO said that there was "evidence of the justification, or strengthening of, a market dominant position" regarding the merger.
WEKO had come to the conclusion following a preliminary examination of the merger, which they will now examine with more detail within the four-month statutory deadline to find out "whether the planned proposed merger will have an effect on competition," the statement said. The target of the further examination will be the provision of acute hospital services, relating to the basic and supplementary insurance sector. On 3 July, the health directors of both hospitals presented the state contracts between the two hospitals. It clarified the legal and financial points of the merger, which has been planned for the last two years. The joint hospital group, which other partners will be able to join, is expected to be up and running on 1 January 2020.
Lukas Engelberger, the Health Director for Basel-Stadt, also announced that he would fight WEKO legally for the merger to take place if the Competition Commission objected to it. Thomas Weber, Health Director for Baselland, had promised that both cantons, as regulators of the joint hospital, would provide no illegal favours for their own hospitals as part of the merger. Both health directors have taken note of the announcement of the planned deeper examination by WEKO, they said on request. They see three possible scenarios after the Monopolies Law: WEKO can approve the merger without reservation, can prevent it from going ahead, or allow it to go ahead with certain conditions and requirements.
With reference to ongoing proceedings, both health directors said they cannot make a prediction of the outcome of the WEKO investigation, the statement said. They however are convinced that their merger project would be "appropriate and promising", they said.

Accident black spot at Wettsteinplatz & Co: cycle lanes will be a danger to everyone

Wettsteinplatz in Basel is an obstacle for traffic. Although in the canton the junction is classified as open and harmless, the group Pro Velo believes that the in-part narrow conditions are dangerous. At least it is somewhat tricky for bikes. The new, higher pavements at the tram stop will be similar to those at Kirschgarten. Until the canton comes up with a solution... however long that takes, if they want it at all.
Whoever rides their bikes down the Wettsteinbrücke in Kleinbasel has an amazing free run at a fantastic gradient. Even unfit cyclists can get up to a good pace - were it not for the fact that the square is officially marked out by a roundabout which in reality is a two-lane traffic system with junctions.
The task of negotiating this junction is dangerous. Many cyclists just dash straight ahead without observing the right of way. They catch drivers in their blind spot and, since the lane is wide, it is amazing that there are few accidents here. Also difficult is the crossing at the bottom of the bridge, where cyclists cross at a 90 degree angle to others. It is a narrow spot, and considering the speed of those cycling downhill from the bridge, also risky.
Curbs at roundabouts a source of danger
Meanwhile, the Canton placates: "This place is not regarded as tricky. Cyclists coming from the bridge shoud brake and wait for an opportunity to cross the bridge at Theodorsgrabenanlage," according to the Office of Mobility. Cyclists can do it, but they must want to. And not everyone wants to. The reality looks different: significantly bigger and more risky.
Roland Chrétien, from the group Pro Velo, said that the situation in Wettsteinplatz seems tricky. Apart from the situation with drivers it is also just as dangerous when cyclists cash into one another, and this is because of the narrow crossing at the foot of the bridge, he said. Ironically, the canton has recently installed a bicycle counting system at this site. However, this is not to assess the traffic situation, but instead to proudly record the rising number of cyclists in Basel.
Problems with the curb in Elisabethenstrasse
Wettsteinplatz is one thing. The higher curbs at tram stops, built for wheelchair access, are just as dangerous. In Elisabethenstrasse, it can often be seen that cyclists fall from their bikes - either because they get stuck with their pedals on the pavement or their tyres slip on the rails. Most of them luckily get back onto their bikes, either on their own or with the help of good Samaritans nearby.
Here even the canton lays down its arms and advises: "Cyclists in the middle of the tracks on Elisabethenstrasse don't have to fear cars behind them anymore, thanks to the new traffic regulations. We recommend that cyclists ride between the tracks in such places," Daniel
Hofer, from the Civil Engineering Unit, said. The federal government demanded that tram stops were made accessible at ground level for the disabled. No matter if they are using walking frames, wheelchairs or crutches. The problem when cycling between the tracks: one has first to cross them. For many Basler cyclists, this is the ultimate horror.
Dangerous for cyclists? Dangerous for everyone!
Pro Velo reports such spots regularly to the canton and puts it under pressure to install extra measures. Successes are consecutively reported on their Facebook page, sometimes including a major success such as at the fine-trap for cyclists at the crossing between Oberwilerstrasse and Steinenring. According to Roland Chrétien, the association has listed many spots and the list is updated regularly.
Where it is dangerous for cyclists it is also dangerous for cars. Not because they are competing against each other but because of uncoordinated actions from both sides. More security for cyclists usually means: more security for cars. And pedestrians as well. A bicycle ring-road however would not have changed much about the difficult spots in the city centre since it would have been built along the outside of the city.
At least the government wants to establish Basel as the most bicycle friendly city in the country, and has presented a master plan for cyclist just after the no-vote for the bicycle ring-road. According to Mr Hofer, maintenance works on streets will always contain improvements for cycle traffic. It was the goal to develop bicycle routes to a safe and continuous network. As part of this, dangerous bicycle lanes are going to be marked red. A good plan - as long as cyclists take notice of it. Better than markings would be to remove dangerous spots as soon as possible.