The Great Big Friday the Thirteenth Bike Blog Roundup

It's been a bit of a mixed bag blog-wise this week, but one theme that did emerge was road justice, highlighted by the CTC's appropriately dated Friday the 13th sentencing debate in which there were calls for the burden of proof to be changed in road justice cases. The CTC argue that the road justice system needs to be rebalanced - but increasing maximum fines isn't going to be the answer when drivers are rarely given anything even close to the maximum now. In America, thousands urge their representatives to make cycle and pedestrian safety a priority. Meanwhile drivers need to suffer the consequences of pointlessly dangerous driving - while the death of a five year old riding his bike before school reminds us all what is at stake.

Zombie arguments

Friday the 13th wasn't the only horror movie theme emerging this week - there was also the continued survival of zombie arguments, such as cycling reaching a tipping point rather than needing careful nurturing however high its levels. In the US, the vehicular cyclists are still circularly defending their beliefs although even those who practise it find it hard work and occasionally lose their nerve. The tired old argument on helmets gets some new evidence from bike share schemes, while if you do want to wade in, Jan Heine provides a good summary of the state of play on the impact (no pun intended) of helmets and helmet laws (with no word on the effectiveness of strapless ones which were definitely not photoshopped in afterwards, honest). If the pavement cycling debate is your thing, then Bike SD has a novel argument for pavement cycling - it creates pressure for infrastructure - while Brooklyn Spoke argues that pedestrians and cyclists can share perfectly well once the car has been removed from the occasion, although sadly that is not always the case here. Meanwhile, if the comments are anything to go by, 'cyclists stay back stickers' have all the makings of becoming a brand new zombie debate, while self-driving cars are coming up on the inside... (but cutely, and at a sedate 25 mph).

Of course, you could equally characterise the arguments for infrastructure as 'zombie arguments' as they're just as perennial, with New Cycling reminding us that road safety campaigns need to tackle road design as well as behaviour, Vole o'Speed pointing out that, genuine accidents aside, casualties are a consequence of road design and Bike Portland exploring why where you live affects whether or not you're likely to cycle. Sustrans points out that making space for kids makes space for everyone, while the Bike League highlights the importance of high profile projects in creating a cycle-friendly community.

Zombie infrastructure

Similarly, what you might call zombie infrastructure - schemes which are attractive to policy makers and opinion formers but whose benefits are highly disputed by others - continue their march through our streets with Shoreditch's shared space junction being the latest recruit to the argument. Bike Portland wonders what we can learn about shared space from a Walmart car park while Sustrans hopes that attractive paint on the road can turn streets back into places. A lot depends on context: Utrecht implements the sort of road narrowing that works where motorised traffic is low, but which can be horribly dangerous when large vehicles are still squeezed into them. Elsewhere Camden remains keen on armadillos and the hype continues but in Salford, even the islands put in to protect them are getting knocked about. Meanwhile from Dublin to Edinburgh it seems councils can't see a desire line without succumbing to the urge to fence it off, while at least in Wales, they've found some interesting new ways to leave cyclists bewildered...

Death by consultation

Cyclists and cycle campaigns could be forgiven for wondering if they're being consulted to death at the moment. No sooner have the Bristol Cycling Campaign and NewCycling, among others, responded to the TSGRD, and Sustrans to the home to school travel guidance consultation, than London's new design standards come out for discussion - not to mention a scheme in Cambridge. No wonder it's easy to get lost in the detail. John Dales explains (in some technical detail) that road engineering habits die hard while Rachel Aldred asks if our design guidelines are still only pandering to the stereotypical cyclist rather than the older, slower, wobblier or or more sociable rider. And of course, when you do respond to consultations it may not have any effect with any more radical options rejected out of hand.

Building political will

With the European Cycle Federation offering some dos and don'ts of effective political lobbying, Stop Killing Cyclists (who, as an aside, appear to be breaking most of those rules, from the name of their campaign downwards...) have an encouraging meeting with the cycling minister. If campaigning is mostly about showing up then Manchester's packed cycle forum is an encouraging sign - whereas in a city like Birmingham, perhaps they might like to rethink the bacon rolls if they really want to encourage cycling among all groups. Shaun McDonald considers what £10 or £20 per head would actually look like in each local authority - although good luck actually disentangling who spends what in the complex mess that is cycle infrastructure funding. North of the border there's a little more money for cycling - even if it is just hand-me-downs from a road building project. In the US at least, the kind of city you want is a party political matter - so what does that say about Morpeth's transport policy - or Beverley Hills'? Streetfilms explores how a group ride helped turn Montreal into a cycle-friendly city while over the border, concerted action to support funding for sustainable travel meets only partial success.

Celebrating the good

Some bloggers have been taking the ECF's advice and celebrating the good: Ranty Highwayman finds kerb perfection in Brighton's bus stop bypasses (which also work just fine in San Francisco), Durham celebrates its network with an infrastructure safari and Simon Nurse celebrates a new addition to Cardiff's cycle network. NewCycling welcomes some improvements in the pipeline for Jesmond, while Traffik in Tooting notes Bikehangars are coming to Wandsworth. Further afield, Bikeable Jo discovers how Vancouver has embraced cycling, San Francisco gets its first business-friendly district, and Chicago's protected bikeways could be spreading to its suburbs, although its latest parking-protected lane only gets three out of five. Sometimes, the good stuff is a little harder to find: west of Auckland there are some good spots but bikes are still way down the list of priorities while Melbourne has given itself over to the car but a few oases remain.


But there was still much to be positive about, with events celebrating cycling coming thick and fast. Sara Dorman ponders gender and cycling ahead of the Women's Cycle Forum, while a token bloke is happy he attended. Darkerside had a grand old time at the Bike Curious family workshop (and Edinburgh is clearly ahead of the curve with its adoption of the bike seat. Cycling with Heels is more moved than she expected by London's World Naked Bike Ride while Manchester's gets more positive press for cycling than anything else, and Portland's was bigger than ever. Bike challenges in all their forms may be artificial but one employer recognises the benefit And if you want to join in where you are, there were lessons from Tuscon into how to run a great ciclovia - and from Edinburgh on how to run a festival of cycling.


The reason why

Still keeping on the positive side, there were plenty of stories about the benefits to everybody of greater cycling - with even General Sisi joining in (although perhaps they need a Women's Cycle Forum in Egypt too). Sustrans points out parents could save a collective 2bn by ditching the school run (and turning their car into an on-street scooter store). Increasing cycling levels could reap health benefits worth £250 million - not to mention creating more pedalling centenarians like Wilf Westbrook - and help tackle New Zealand's obesity epidemic. Meanwhile, five years on, buffered bike lanes haven't destroyed the businesses that feared them while a Japanese employer recognises the benefits of cycling employees.


Striking stats

For those who like their arguments bolstered by numbers, Seattle bike blog has been making use of its city's open bike traffic count data to consider the impact of 'bike month' - and the weather - although it can't find any significant growth trends. There's more proof of the efficiency of the bicycle compared with pretty much any form of transport, while for those who prefer a striking image how about this one - the whole of Florence could fit inside an Atlanta interchange.

Not just bikes

While it might seem we're all about the bikes, most bike bloggers also consider the pedestrian point of view, especially when they're forced off it. Bike Portland celebrates the turning of turn lanes into plazas, although sadly only for a weekend. It's not just cyclists that suffer victim blaming - most pedestrian safety messages miss their real target. And while Shanghai reshapes itself around the car, ibikelondon discovers the loss is not just to cyclists.

And finally...

But let's finish on a positive note, because what could be cooler than a bike with glowing whiskers - other, perhaps, than a bike powered mobile library?