Blog Roundup - first of 2012

Hello and welcome to the first Cycling Embassy bike blog round up of the year. Can it really be 2012 already? Manchester Cycling kicks it off by getting out the crystal ball and looking back at the year that wasn’t (yet).

Meanwhile, the real 2012 got off to a disastrous start with the news that David Hembrow and Mark Wagenbuur will no longer be updating a View from the Cycle Path. And, just to rub in what we’ll be missing, their latests post contrasting ‘strict liability’ with ‘sustainable safety’ is a cracker. We wish you well, David and Mark, and we hope that your informative posts and videos will continue in some form or another. Here in the UK, Kats Dekker finds we’re wrestling our own demons as cyclists while after 40 years of writing about cycle campaigning Keith Bingham lets rip on his retirement. Vole O’Speed picks up the baton by unpicking the evidence over whether it’s infrastructure or safety in numbers that is critical to Dutch success (with a little help from the SWOV Bulletin) and then contrasts the UK’s obsession with shared space compared to its complete ignoring of sustainable safety.

In fact, shared space seemed to be on everybody’s mind, what with the revamp of Exhibition road and the recent radio 4 programme on the subject. First there were complaints from residents about the safety of Exhibition road for pedestrians. War on the Motorist asks if road loveliness be found in shared space – or just a miserable compromise? While Londonneur and his four-year-old test out Exhibition road on foot and find it mostly lacking. Sam Saunders takes up the subject in Bristol – and nails that ‘ice rink’ metaphor – while As Easy as riding a bike finds shared space that works in Horsham (mainly because there aren’t really any cars).

The year also got off to a sombre start with the news of the death of two cyclists – in Saxmundham and in Edinburgh – both by vehicles that failed to stop at the scene. The family of the Edinburgh cyclist, Andrew McNicoll, will be setting up a memorial to raise cash to make cycling in Edinburgh safer (UPDATE: the link is here) while Zoom-Gordo writes a moving tribute to a cyclist and a friend – and a reminder of the human cost of accidents to all concerned. Which includes those picking up the pieces as this letter to the Standard reminds us:‘We believe that there are inherent dangers when cyclists and heavy goods vehicles share road space.’ So what will make cycling and walking safer? We know what we think, but don’t just take our word for it – Drawing Rings provides a handy guide to some recent research on safety and cycling – ‘when effective intersection treatments are employed, constructing cycle tracks on busy streets reduces collisions and injuries’. Streetsblog reports that painted bike lanes don’t endanger pedestrians – or anyone else.

All this stands in contrast to the Mayor of London’s rather more cavalier attitude to the subject. Showing commitment above and beyond the call of blogging, Kings Cross Environment gets out the tape measure and discovers the dangerous junction where Deep Lee died doesn’t even conform to TfL’s standards (it’s not just Kings Cross either – seven pedestrian crossings in Croyden fail the minimum requirements for the visually impaired). Meanwhile, a sticking plaster solution is proposed . Help My Chain fell off asks the blindingly obvious question: why she should have to cycle an extra 3 miles just to avoid some nasty junctions ? Putting it another way Kennington People on Bikes asks who our roads are really meant to be used by – soft squishy unpredictable kids on bikes, or the driver of the ‘Anger Rover’? Actually, no, maybe don’t answer that question. Instead, – anyone remember how the Cycle Superhighways were going to be ‘safe direct and coninuous’ – and not just some blue paint on the road? It’s very expensive blue paint if so – indeed, for that money, we could have something truly imaginative – and we’re not ruling that out entirely, frankly, given TfL & Boris’s records.

Looking north and Scotland’s transport minister urges Scots to get on their bikes (as the Scottish government budget looks as if it might be even worse for cycling than originally thought), while Alex Salmond is told to get on his bike – perhaps he could come to this? – as indeed should any Scottish-based cyclists who can make it. And not to be left out, Londoners are urged to vote with their bikes – an idea that deserves to be taken wider. One Tory activist has started campaiging early, unveiling her ‘Boris Bike’ – probably best to avoid Bow Roundabout though.

But let’s not be downhearted. Let’s imagine instead a 2012 where politicians look at what works in other cities and do the same, like in Portland – or where politicians demand bike lanes for the poor neighbourhoods as well as the rich ones like in New York (Cyclists in the City draws the contrast with London) or where investment in cycling has probably meant 96,000 fewer car trips, like in Minneapolis or where traffic lights detect bicycles and give them their own green signal, like in California – could it be that the famously car-centric United States is going to overtake the UK for bike friendliness? Well, maybe not, for there have been green shoots detected here too: Horsham inches towards Groningen, guardrails are taken down from Bow road and the People’s cycling Front of South Gloucestershire finds a cycle route thats … well not half bad actually but it’s business as usual in Plymouth where WillCycle finds cycling sidelined, Horsham with a cycle path that no one will use – not because of the path itself but because of what happens at either end – and Bristol where a telling editorial comment in the Bristol Evening Post in response to a letter shows just how far even one of Cycling England’s flagship cities has to go for cycling to be seen as a practical solution for all. Cheltenham distinguishes between ‘cyclists’ and people who ride bicycles while Mad cycle lanes of Manchester finds the city’s incredible shrinking bike lane – but then again, if they make them TOO wide, Manchester’s Advanced Drivers just park in them – as indeed do Tyneside’s finest

Want to double cycling rates? It’s easy – in Australia, anyway. Make helmets optional – a good roundup of the impact of compulsory helmet legislation down under – a live topic here, where This Last thinks we might be misguided in lobbying the WI on the topic. Meanwhile in New Zealand Marc from Amsterdamized spreads the cycling gospel the Dutch Way

The reaction to the Mary Portas Queen of Shops report continues. Why don’t councils simply provide more parking spaces to save the high street? A very British Dude has some answers while Aberdeen Cars makes the same point in its own unique way . What would happen if Mary Portas got her way? America “provides a cautionary tale”:…

The Guardian unearths a long lost (or possibly not so long lost) postcard showing early bike training (but where are their hi vis tabards?) – if it comes to vintage postcards, we prefer this one of the Clarion Cycling club ‘we have nothing to lose but our chains’.

A new year’s resolution we can all live with from She Rides a Bike – just stick with the timeless fashion classics – that way you’ll fit right in in Cardiff yes, Cardiff. While Bike Minded reminds us of the no. 1 reason for cycling – it’s easier than walking in high heels!

So, when you’re towing two washing machines around by bike in Whitley Bay, what’s your worst problem? The hills? – nope, the broken glass and intolerant drivers… And while we’re at it it’s not National Bash a BMW driver day – it’s bash one particular one according to Karl McCracken

Spare a thought for the timid rider, from Downfader – ‘if that road were a blood vessel, the brain must surely be dead’.

Floody Hell Real cycling is caught cycling without a snorkel

No helmet? No problem – now you too can fight crime with your hi-tech video camera sunglasses (we’re actually quite excited by that one)

Nobody likes to look like a try-hard tourist so Tokyo by Bike offers some tips on how to cycle like the Japanese (sounds a little like cycling like the Dutch…)

Highbury on Foot asks if the time is now right for Pay as you Go driving in London

And finally, this should sort out Smidsy for once and for all.

See you next week.