Hooray, winter's over, it's British summer time at last (and for once the Weather gods have got the memo) with cyclists (and bloggers) everywhere coming out of hibernation. And what better way to celebrate than by getting together with a few dozen of your closest friends and tackling the North Circular road by bike... A great video there from Londonneur, but an even greater one on how it could have been so different, from Bicycle Dutch looking at Utrecht. We hope the participants of Barnet's Great Divide Ride (including the Embassy's own Vole O'Speed) the best of British luck and we're sure that next week's roundup will be full of stories, photos and videos of how it went.
This week's big political story was the plan to privatise Britain's roads (raising the intriguing possibility that we could just sell them to the Dutch and let them sort it out), with analysis from Not the Treasury View and Brickonomics. The Guardian bike blog picked up on the hypothecation issue, as the spectre of a resurrection of the Road Tax suddenly cuts short many an argument between cyclist and driver at the traffic lights. The Campaign for Better transport points out that, whoever builds them, roads just fill up with traffic anyway while War on the Motorist thinks it's probably irrelevant while Chester Cycling looks on the bright side. Either way, it seems like the cars are getting more than their fair share. And Manchester (well Trafford) may have been ahead of the curve, having already inadvertently privatised a bit of Matt Busby Way (it leads the way already in the half-hearted cycling infrastructure stakes, with its cycle patches).
In fact, cycling might be said to be having a bit of a political moment though not enough for Jim's tastes. It made it into the budget (although no more than a welcome gesture) - and in South London a councillor is even calling for full 'copenhagen-style' cycle lanes at the Elephant and Castle. In Scotland an SNP MSP seems to indicate support for the Pedal on Parliament manifesto - although closer inspection suggests that's because they haven't read it - while the Greens table a motion on cycle safety that calls for (among other things) 'a radical rethink of how streets are designed'. And the winds of change are blowing even further afield, too - in Washington, Mexico and Sao Paulo (after cycle safety protests of their own). Even the Local Government Information Unit is quoting Gil Penalosa these days. And it's not all bad news coming out of No. 10 - Sam Cam has clearly been watching too much Borgen (but not reading enough Copenhagen Cycle Chic)
British Summer Time, of course, is when we put our clocks forward to European time, and they put theirs forward to keep ahead. So if you think your city might be catching up with Amsterdam's impressive cycling rates think again. The Urban Country stumbles acros the resulting school run and is astounded ; we know the feeling. Out in the countryside, Cycle Space admires the humane Dutch approach to rural roads, where the infrastructure is visible even from the train and the only obstacle to 'mindless compulsive pedalling' may be the odd sheep. Other cycling cultures are available: in Strasbourg, it's not just the architecture that looks a little Dutch.
Over here, where things don't look even a little bit Dutch, Pedestrianise London is slowing down and taking a closer look at shared paths. We inch forward though: a little more selective permeability here, a new bridge there, a bike hire scheme elsewhere, even a public bike pump in Kennington - and a bit of shared space taken away from the cars because they wouldn't share nicely. Perhaps Horsham understands at last that bikes mean business? 42 Bikes can see the sense in that (despite the best efforts to put barriers in bikes' way).
Chester Cycling (picking up the baton from Freewheeler) asks if we shouldn't worry about cycle infrastructure and hang on for peak oil or peak car. After all, for young Americans, cars are just a giant bummer - clearly their brainwashing has worn off. In London, however, traffic (that's motorised traffic, folks) is expected to rise by 43 percent. Where is it all going to go? Where is it all going to park?
Over in the US, that old favourite, how to get more women cycling, rears its head again. Apart from the obvious, could 'stop patronising them' be the answer? (we'd also suggest using none of these pick up lines on any laydee cyclists you are lucky enough to happen across). Perhaps it's in the genes? Perhaps we need to get them *really* young? Or perhaps we need to sort out the hazards on the road - like this look at Cycle Superhighway 7 or these ten most dangerous junctions in Leeds. Perhaps the Metropolitan Police needs to revise its priorities from anti-social cycling to dangerous driving? (While up in Strathclyde they may need to brush up on their highway code).
Ever felt tempted to yell at a cyclist? Remember you can run but if you share the same commute you can't hide.
Confession time - we totally missed bike hour - did you?
Looking for your N+1th bike? How about a pedalling laboratory? Or perhaps what you need is the deeply silly bike butterfly - which doesn't actually exist ... but who knows, maybe someone will crowd fund it.
Are you feeling the tailwinds or headwinds of change? Have you a daft bike invention you'd like to crowdfund? Have you ridden some of Britain's finest - or least fine - cycling infrastructure? Don't just mutter about it - blog about it, and you never know, next week you could make it onto the bike blog round up. See you all then.