Well, I’d rather hoped that this week would be all about sharing some new-to-me blogs, the discovery of which is one of the minor perks of doing this weekly roundup. Such as the blog of Josie Dew, adventurer and cyclist, who is now taking on the dangerous beasts of the UK countryside, its drivers (and I’m still not entirely sure whether ‘Nihola Gay’ is a brilliant or slightly sick name for a cargo bike. Though maybe if you were carrying an atom bomb, they’d give you a bit more space on those blind bends). Or Urbanity … History on being a vulnerable road user – ‘It turned out that the slaughter in my neighbourhood of Edinburgh was of elderly women and young people. We regularly allow the most vulnerable in our society to be killed and this is not a national scandal’. Or – not a blog exactly – Dr. Steve Melia writing about the DfT’s Shared Space guidelines ‘based on flawed research and political spin’. Those dry academics, eh? Or even the not new and also not-a-blog but excellent magazine City Cycling which has a new issue out – obviously go and read all of it, but here it is on ghost bikes ‘if I should happen to die on the mean streets I don’t want a ghost bike placed on the spot. I’d rather a giant billboard was erected, with a picture of a car or a bus or a lorry on it and the words “Please don’t kill anyone today” in giant letters above’ Yup. That works for me, too.
But, sadly, what this week turned out to be all about was accidents and decent road design and London’s politicians and officials failing to take either of them really seriously. A new nadir was reached when the GLA’s conservative members walked out on a debate on cyclists’ concerns over a procedural matter – even as the family of Ellie Carey, the latest cyclist to die on London’s streets, were paying tribute to her at the crash site, prompting angry posts from ibikelondon, Cyclists in the City, SE1, road.cc, Londonist, and others. Meanwhile, ibikelondon asks where TfL’s promised review of Bow roundabout has gone – perhaps they think that putting up a few signs is good enough? And as the boyfriend of Deep Lee writes an open letter to Camden Council about King’s Cross Junction, where his girlfriend died, Cycling intelligence wonders if TfL’s planned improvements will make any difference at all (you can see the plans for yourself here). If that makes you angry too – make a note in your diary, for as the LCC reports there will be a vigil for Ellie Carey on the 14th – and you should keep the 20th December free too, further details to be announced.
If TfL ever do its promised review and redesign, perhaps they should get Pedestrianise London to do the work instead, as he’s been looking in detail at how junctions could be redesigned and lights re-phased to smooth traffic flow for everyone – and also at Britain’s ‘de facto’ cycle lanes – and why we urgently need actual proper ones instead. There are glimmers of hope that London’s authorities might see the light one day – after lobbying from LCC, Camden is at least learning how to handle roadworks and cycling infrastructure properly, although no such luck on Blackfriars, as As Easy as Riding a Bike finds where it’s just been coned off. Meanwhile Kennington People on Bikes will be attempting to take a group of teenagers from the Imperial War Museum to the Olympic park next week using the ‘quiet’ route recommended by TFL (All we can say is, good luck…)
Christmas is coming and the roads are getting … icy. Over the pond, not only does Chicago get protected bike lanes (as reported last week) but they get their own snow ploughs too – no such luxuries in the UK, where cyclists have to choose between lightly-trafficked skating rinks and trunk roads and monster trucks. As Karl McCracken finds, Newcastle City council’s response to this is less than impressive while City Cycling starts a Season’s Grittings campaign – get on to your council and remind them that we need to get about too. We approve! After all, if they can build cycle lanes up beyond the arctic circle we should be able to pedal down to the shops in January without breaking a leg.
Good news in these straitened times – North Carolina finds that narrowing roads makes them cheaper, and in Texas, just 2% of a city’s street budget would be enough for 100 miles of bike lanes (although in Texas that might not get you very far) while New York’s infrastructure investment shows results – cyclists up 8%, pedestrian deaths down, cycling deaths and injuries the same. Not wanting to wait for the politicians to act in the wake of a fatal accident, Toronto’s Urban Repair Squad upgrade their rubbish guerilla bike lanes while south of the border the guerrillas are on the other side – perhaps they were inflamed by the incendiary headline of this Salon article – are urban bicyclists just elite snobs? – although if you get past the headline, there’s some common sense there: ‘this is the true power of bicycle infrastructure: It’s an implicit message that bikes are real transportation’ (just do yourself a favour and don’t read the comments). Meanwhile, proof perhaps that the grass is always greener, the Australians are looking longingly at a bike hire scheme that really works – yes, London’s.
The BBC spent 24 hourse following all the crashes in London – the crack about the cyclist not wearing a helmet (who suffered an ankle injury) has attracted most attention but it’s the bike that ‘hit’ a pedestrian (when he gave way to her, and then got hit by a van that didn’t) that stood out to me. The page in full is here with the map here Over in On This Last, Sam Saunders looks at Bristol’s cycling and pedestrian casualty figures in great detail and the CTC’s Stop Smidsy campaign updates the case of an 85 year old driver who ploughed into a group of cyclists . But should we be concentrating so much on all this death and danger? As Easy as Riding a Bike asks if we should be accentuating the postive more – prompting a lively debate in the comments. As Karl puts it, the problem is that – Britain’s roads are just too narrow … for monster trucks – another great and angry post from the aptly named ‘do the right thing’.
Speaking of angry, the Embassy’s dear leader Jim has been reading the words of Phil Flanders, Scottish director of the Road Haulage Association and, despite soothing music, he’s not happy – while Wheels Pedals Person takes it point by point . Jim also happened across Alan Sugar’s contribution to the house of Lords (we worry about his blood pressure, you know. Jim’s that is, not Lord Sugar’s. Perhaps he should take up cycling as a stress reliever – but maybe only in Sweden)
Bath-Bristol eat your heart out – HERE’s a railway path (yes it is in the Netherlands, why do you ask?). David Hembrow nails another Dutch exceptionalism myth, on travel times and travel distances – there’s no wriggling out of it, it’s still almost definitely their infrastructure that makes the Dutch get on two wheels. Of course, not everything is perfect there, as Cycling without a helmet discovers – parking can be a bugger. And should the Dutch flee this bike parking hell? They’ll mostly miss herrings – well CYCLING and herrings.
As Londonist launches a search for London’s most pointless street furniture – they find a speed bump on the pavement (perhaps to counter the UK’s demon pavement cyclists) and Cycle Sheffield spots some mixed messages while we ask if the bike lane was wearing hi vis? – a doozy from the Warrington Campaign’s cycle facility of the month
Still with us? On to the lucky dip now… Dave Warnock asks what’s really slowing drivers down? Could it be their own behaviour? In Sharing the Floop Naturally cycling discussing dogs and bikes and courtesy (and can I just say what a great name that is for a cycle path?). Karl McCracken channels the Daily Mail (hmm, don’t hold your breath for the job offer, Karl). Patisserie Cyclisme finds It’s not just us pootlers – pro cyclists run on coffee and cake too. Bristol Traffic finds the pavement parkers are being ticketed for their own good – if you’re going to park on the pavement, do it properly, cuh! And finally, if you liked Street Talks? You’ll love Urbanized
We leave you with two happy stories – it’s almost Christmas after all. First, a good deed in a naughty world – Mikael gets (one of) his stolen bike back (you know, for a man who likens bikes to vaccuum cleaners he has some awfully nice ones. Just sayin’) while Naturally Cycling Manchester is happy with her Cycling Embassy prize – and if you’re jealous, well, you can buy yourself one too. Or maybe do a spot of Christmas shopping?