The Great Big Bumper Edition Bike Blog Roundup

Due to illness last week, this is an attempt to boil down two weeks worth of blogs into the already overheated weekly roundup, so apologies in advance for an even more hectic gallop through bike blog land than usual. Before we begin, though, some dates for your diaries - the main one being Saturday May 17th when there are mass protest rides in Newcastle, Manchester, Bristol, Leeds, Sheffield, and of course London. Don't forget either that it's the Cycling Embassy's AGM on the weekend of the 7th and 8th of June in Brighton. And for those of you who agonise about what to wear on these mass rides worry no more (that might spice up the infrastructure safaris at the AGM...)

Campaigning news

The Big Rides are of course in support for Space for Cycling in London and elsewhere), and campaigning is getting into its stride with campaigners gathering in Leeds (the presentations are now available for those who missed it). In Harrow, a photo opportunity might be enough while in Islington some of the ward 'asks' are causing problems to otherwise supportive councillors - while in Newcastle, the LibDems don't seem to be that keen on winning the cyclists' vote and in Wandsworth the council claims cycling facilities are too expensive to maintain even though they haven't spent any money maintaining them. Ranty Highwayman considers what space for cycling means in detail - while in Ireland and LA there are similar get-out-the vote local initiatives. Away from the local elections, Olympic and Paralympic cycling champions call on their councils to make roads safer - while Ely learns just what a slow and painful process it can be to get one cycle rack installed. People for Bikes outlines three lessons from Calgary while the Bike Show talks to those dangerouss radicals at the CPRE about what they're doing to make cycling safer in the English Countryside - and Bike Portland considers lessons for urban advocates.

POP aftermath

For anyone planning on attending one of the Big Rides and wondering what it might be like there are still blogs coming in from Pedal on Parliament from Claire at the CTC, WisoB, who led a feeder ride, Bike Gob Glasgow and Tom Turner. Car Sick Glasgow wasn't impressed by the politicians - and perhaps rightly so, as Magnatom is left fuming and POP notices some significant wording changes from the minister...

Design guidelines

Notable at the Space for Cycling meeting was the fact that not one but three cycle design guidelines were launched, in an attempt to fill a national vacuum: a guide to councillors from the CTC, the ambitious Making Space for Cycling published by Cycle Nation, and Sustrans's technical design guide which they argued was aimed at different audiences. Cycle Nation's was considered streets ahead by most commentators while Sustrans's was immediately criticised for showcasing second rate designs, failing to challenge dangerous designs like pinch points (and even then what's built by Sustrans doesn't meet its own guidelines. Meanwhile, consultation on traffic signals and regulations may help to pave the way to make some of these better designs a reality.

Design matters

As ever, there was plenty of evidence of how important good - and bad - design actually is from a cycling corridor that actually makes things worse to a college for 16-18 year olds that's only sensibly accessible by car (it might as well be in Texas). Salford's armadillo saga continues although Treehugger thinks they have their uses. Box ticking in Hampshire just moves conflict further down the road - and mixing bikes and buses is no answer either. There are a few bright spots among the half-hearted attempts at infrastructure in Glasgow, and Limerick gets some 'bollards on the ground' albeit not enough to counter decates of car centric design, while Merton updates some filtered permeability schemes with some nicer looking upgrades. Southwark Cyclists respond to the Elephant and Castle consultation while Coventry consider how a route might be upgraded - perhaps by squeezing the drivers when the going gets narrow, rather than the cyclists. And with David Hembrow making the case for the simultaneous green at almost every junction, in Seattle they will be looking at how a bidirectional protected track performs even when there are serious downhill stretches (top tip for UK authorities - why not try writing 'Slow' on the path first, before turning to chicanes which slow bikes to the detriment of pedestrians? Just a thought).

Who's number one?

As Rachel Aldred points out, with the right conditions everyone can be a cyclist (and a pedestrian). So where are the best places to be found? In the Netherlands, it's officially Zwolle while in America Portland is in danger of being overtaken - and it's the city and its inhabitants who will suffer - while being named second best cycling city has done Minneapolis no favours either. Will Hackney also stagnate unless its policies change? And how bad is it when Los Angeles makes your city look auto-centric? The Bike League explains what the Bike Friendly State rankings mean - with categories including policies, evaluation and planning and encouragement and education while elsewhere, researchers are mapping the true bikeability of an area - how far you can go without breaking sweat (including through dealing with traffic). And if you're a long way from the best place? Sometimes the only option is to leave...


Of course, if everyone does that, it's bad for business - whereas if towns compete on 'place' and not on parking they may find out they need even less of it - while entrepreneurial sorts should be snapping up property on those despised back road bike routes. In Portland businesses opposing bike lanes start to reconsider once they hear what their customers think - while one Chicago bar decided to talk to its cycling customers about how to embrace cyclists once it realised its parking spaces would be going - of course it helps if people can actually contemplate shopping by bike rather than by car. All in all, biking can be a right-wing issue as much as a left-wing one (you can even buy a special suit now), after all it saves on taxes. But paradoxically, cycling is so good for everyone concerned it doesn't count as a proper transport choice because it's the only means of transport we are assumed to want to do more of.


It was a bumper fortnight for the statisticians, starting with the news that Oregon would be buying Strava datasets triggering some analysis (some more serious than others of who the datasets miss and what journeys they capture - perhaps it's time to Occupy Strava? (or create your own app). The English census data shows cycling falling overall in England although there are big differences between areas, while the US data shows a more encouraging picture with some analysis of who is walking and cycling to work most - and some surprises on the top cities for cycle commuting rates. Elsewhere, the tube strike caused a spike in bike hires but not as much as it could have done had conditions for cycling been better. The Department of Transport's flawed traffic modelling is coming under closer scrutiny at last - but even in Denmark big out of town shopping centres trigger falls in cycling. And for anyone wondering what 20,000 cyclists a day looks like in rush hour - the answer is 'strangely hypnotic'.

Going pink

Whatever your thoughts on cycle racing, it was impossible to ignore the coming of the Giro d'Italia to Belfast - even though the omens for a lasting legacy don't look to good with a major bike route to be closed for two years without reasonable alternatives being offered - and even the diversion signs aren't up to much. But Belfast is to get a bike share scheme which may offer more of a long term legacy long after the pink-dyed sheep have been shorn.

Not forgetting those on two feet

With the Biking and Walking alliance considering how to bring advocates of both forms of active travel together, it's timely to look at TfL's Pedestrian Safety Action Plan which still treats pedestrians as second class citizens, encouraging risky behaviour. Perhaps the could have followed Michigan's lead and conducted 'walkability reviews' - better than attempting to hunt down and prosecute guerilla crossing painters. Meanwhile Spokes considers how increasingly busy canal paths can accommodate everyone.

Safety first

Say what you like about Toronto's rogue mayor, Rob Ford, he's provided some useful data on the before and after and after removal accident stats for some painted bike lanes - while David Hembrow puts a small rise in Dutch cycling injuries into perspective - although that doesn't make the scooters any pleasanter to deal with. In London, all boroughs now offer their own drivers cycle awareness training - and TfL are at least slowing traffic speeds and auditing boroughs' performances while in Norway, the roads directorate might be dinosaurs but their share the road adverts aren't bad - certainly better than the Christchurch ones suggesting that cheery wave is the right response to a close pass. Of course, no need to bother if it's a self-driving car although apparently it can pick up cyclists' hand signals and does appear to have developed artificial courtesy if not artificial intelligence. The Freakonomics team discovers what cyclists have long known (and it's a good way to get away with drive-by sexual assault too).

The positive stuff


It's spring, though, so let's not dwell on those aspects, but instead consider some cheerier campaigns, like the incentives some firms offer to encourage cycling - while both Sweden and Lambeth have schemes that let you try before you buy. Newcastle discovers its mass cycling past while Cycle Boom discovers cycle culture in Medellin. It looks like the 20th annual Bike to Work day was a bit of a party in San Francisco with bikes making up 76% of traffic on one street. In Washington state, the clearing of the passes opens up a 'mountain ciclovia' - perhaps next year they could add a water slide. Meanwhile cargo bikes prove to be more fun than grown men ought to be having - and look, now you can build your own.

And finally

There's a miscellany of stuff to finish on - from a New York's citi bike station's reign of terror to an ingenious eight-year-old hijacking Scotland's first public bike counter. But we're choosing to end on an inspirational note: from Afghanistan's women's cycle team to Edinburgh's young offenders - even to a grieving stoker - bikes can transform lives.

Back to normal next week...