Back in May I was bragging about a folding bicycle I bought and I promised to talk later about my impression about the traffic in Bucharest, so here goes a first report about that.
Before writing my impressions, I would like to tell a few things to put everything into the right perspective.
Since I bought the bicycle I have been riding it to work almost on a daily basis. A trip from home to work takes about 30-40 minutes and, according to the GPS tracks made with my phone, is about 7km long involving mostly roads with low traffic, small alleys or sidewalks just to keep it safe and enjoy the ride and maybe some shade from time to time. I am regularly leaving for work somewhere between 12:00 and 14:00 and I am returning sometime between the hours of 21:00 and 23:00.
Impressions - Tracks
There are no dedicated bicycle tracks on my regular route to work, so I tend to use small streets or even side walks. I made some trips in areas of Bucharest and I had the occasion to use the dedicated tracks, so I have an impression of the quality of the work done.
Generally one could say that in some places they did the tracks because they had to and didn't care about the practical use at all. In some places, out of pure luck, the surfaces used were smooth and had nice transition from the sidewalk they're using to the streets they're crossing. The track along the river that crosses Bucharest, Dâmbovița, is particularly a disaster in its own category forcing cyclists to wait, for each intersection, at three traffic lights since the track doesn't simply crosses the intersection, but it's shaped as a U probably not to conflict with cars steering left on bridges.
I am sure you're now confused, so I'll try to explain. In Romania we drive on the right (as opposed to wrong/left :-P) side of the road. The road along the river has the directions separated, one for each side of the river. There are side walks on each side of each of the directions, but the track is marked on the side walks closer to the river. Since all traffic lights directing the traffic along the river let all cars coming from the same direction cross the intersection at the same time, the cyclists going forward would be at risk of being hit by cars steering left towards the bridge; they probably thought that is a good idea to force cyclists to cross the road they rode in parallel with until the intersection, cross the intersection, then cross once more the road to get back on the inside side walk where the track is marked.
So if you're riding a bike, you get a penalty at each intersection and you wait three rounds of traffic light changes. Cars driving in the same direction as you do, lose maybe a minute at most, you, as a cyclist, lose in the best case probably around 2-3 minutes and you inhale the fumes of the cars waiting at the traffic light. Yes, that's GREAT, not.
Here is a link which makes this more visible: http://norc.ro/pano/BHf9a10Y/
Because of this over-head chin scratching, many cyclists prefer to simply ignore the track and ride on the road putting themselves at risk. I used that track twice and, believe me, after the second intersection you want to do that, too, or use the outer side walk.
As a bonus, some side walks hosting the tracks were not adjusted in any way for cyclists (or maybe they were turned into traps after the track was marked) and you might encounter disasters such as these:
Bicycle traps (notice how the pit was made of the same width as the track itself):
But we do have our share of considerate drivers which park on the few tracks we have:
while pedestrians are not that keen on leaving the track clear for cyclists, either:
In all fairness, when conditions permited it (or should I say, when we were lucky enough to already have the proper terrain?), the tracks are OK:
Impressions - Small roads
Since there are no tracks on my way to work, I am using small roads which have low traffic. Some of them have really poor conditions, some are really good, but often I find myself prefering one poorer road or alley if is more shaded and I am riding during daylight.
In most cases drivers are civilised and, for instance, don't try to over pass me, if I signal left. Sometimes I feel that some of them drive too close to me and leave me no choice in case of an emergency, but what can I do?
Impressions - Night rides
It seems that the night is the proper time for creepy, stupid or crazy drivers to come out. I found that after sunset drivers seem to be careless and sometimes plain idiots.
One time I was about to cross an intersection while from the opposite direction, a taxi driver was preparing to steer left, crossing my path, so he was supposed to give way for me. The intersection was lit and I was already crossing when he approached the intersection, so there was no way he couldn't have seen me. In spite of that, he decided that it would be a good idea to continue his way, he even pushed on the gas since he was in a hurry to stop a few meters from the intersection. I had to break so I wouldn't end up on his hood or his right front seat. Of course, he felt obliged to swear when I asked if he was insane crossing my path like that putting my life in jeopardy. Idiot.
Such experiences seem to happen more often after sunset, even if I ride on lit roads.
Stray dogs seem to be particularly annoyed by bicycles, especially if going too fast. There are some areas where they tend to gather, so I try to avoid those areas or ride slowly but prepared to accelerate when riding past such dogs.
Only once a stray dog barked at me during mid day, so I assume there was something wrong with that particular dog.
In conclusion I can say that riding in Bucharest could be a lot better, but I guess people need to be educated into getting used to cyclists on the roads.
 excepting some days with really bad weather and a break of a week since I was feeling some pain in my left knee at that time
 It would probably take even less if I were to push a little, but that is not the goal and it wouldn't be a nice experience
 at night I am wearing a high visibility jacket, although I am riding on lit roads; OTOH, I haven't bought yet a front lamp since I really want to by a solar powered one, but I can't find one at an acceptable price; I'll probably buy a set with front and tail light plus some rechargeable batteries and change to the solar one, once I find one that pleases me