The Great Big Grand Depart Bike Blog Roundup

As 2.5 million people crowded onto the road verges of Yorkshire, demolishing the contention that cycling in any of its forms is something of interest to only a handful of cranks in this country, discussion of its legacy had already begun, even if some thought it only of limited relevance to the daily cyclist and that we should just enjoy it as the great bicycle race it is. Certainly, Tour or no Tour, the majority of Brits still don't think Britain's roads are safe enough for cycling - and that includes some former Tour riders. And while Edinburgh wants what Harrogate was having, the people of Surrey probably won't be joining in any time soon. However, both British Cycling and Leeds Cycle Campaign released complementary visions of how Leeds city centre could be transformed - with the city's own legacy plans about as good as can be expected. Interestingly, over in Sydney - where cycling is not for the faint hearted - the Olympic park itself does seem to offer a cycling legacy

Planning to fail

One impact of the Grand Depart on our shores has been cycling issues popping up in publications such as the Planner Magazine - where Mark Ames points out the need for political will, money and design expertise to create a real legacy - the latter being sadly lacking after decades of under-investment. We can't even model bicycle journeys using the tools we have, and nor does the design software support the needs of non-traditional bikes such as hand cycles. More than that, the models we do have mean the needs of cyclists and pedestrians get marginalised because of the need to stack traffic at junctions. As the US looks at what could replace current 'Level of (car) Service' measures, perhaps we should be looking not at how quickly people can be moved through streetsand how much space they take up, but how long they want to linger on them. As apps provide data about human movements (well, humans with iPhones, anyway), Cycling with Heels discovers that space for cycling is needed in many different ways, while Solihull Cycling maps out what makes for sustainable transport and planning - and NewCycling has a first look at the latest outcome of the planning process, the new Strategic Cycle Route planned in the city.

Waste of Paint?

Newcastle's SCR1 might be a bit of a mixed bag, but at least it doesn't leave you wondering what they were thinking the way Australia's bike lanes on major highways and right in the door zone do. As Easy as Riding a Bike finds himself agreeing with John Franklin over the need to accommodate bikes as vehicles (while in California, those looking for protected space are called Uncle Toms by the president of what is supposed to be a bike advocacy organisation). As Sustrans explains its decision to support the notorious Dutch roundabout that wasn't, and Dublin Council manages to miss the point of bicycle traffic lights, Modal Mom decides there's no point looking at a cycle plan in any detail if it's just sharrows everywhere - and in water soluble paint too, which won't fill any user with confidence. Closer to home, JACWAB finds Renfrewshire's 'excellent network' of cycle paths has been literally left in the long grass, while Scotland's National Walking Strategy is just as much of a waste of ink as its cycling one.

The seductions of shared space

With a presentation by Ben Hamilton Baillie doing the rounds of admiring US bike bloggers, despite the fact that they've got their own Mickey Mouse town planner who made a surprisingly good fist of it, shared space seeemd to be flavour of the week among the Streetsblog network with a look at how it's being used in Pittsburgh and Chicago with the New York financial district possibly next for the fancy paving treatment. Some of those schemes do look all right - but the Americans should be warned not to fall for the seductions of place faking especially on a road with 180 buses an hour passing through it.

Meanwhile the other sharing - bike share schemes - continue to spread with Glasgow's cycle hire scheme proving to be many good things but a 'roaring success' is not one of them, while Ireland gets the first glimpse of its regional bike share bikes aka mobile billboards. In New York, researchers map the imbalances between bike docks - while in San Francisco's scheme it's the city centre rather than the suburbs where the lion's share of use is concentrated.

Getting it right

So if shared space isn't the magical lying-down-safely-in-the-road answer, what is? Streetblog looks at what it takes to make a useful pilot bike track project - while the Active Transport Alliance takes stock of Chicago's protected bike lane revolution and considers what next. Building a network is a good start: Cycle Boom visits Munich and Seville, two cities where investing in a cycle network has paid off, and Christchurch reverts to its original five year timetable for building its cycle ways, Wisconsin announces plans to join up its bike trails into a statewide network. Even Tokyo is seeing a rapid outbreak of bike lanes in parts of the city, while Oklahoma City is also joining in the fun and LA discovers that even a great bike path needs decent wayfinding if it's to become truly useful. Both councillors from the North East and Cycling Dumfries make an eye-opening trip across the North Sea. Sustrans release ideas to revamp some hostile streets in Edinburgh, while if they ever built the East London road crossing it should at least have segregated cycle lanes (and not just temporary ones either).


Limiting traffic - or subsidising it?

Sometimes it takes making driving cars a pain in the neck (other body parts may be available) to really drive cycling rates - or perhaps make parking them inconvenient - but as Pickles' parking policy shows we're not even ready to inconvenience motorists much for a single day for a Sky Ride let alone permanently. Which is a shame because when you do close roads for whatever reason - people flood in to replace the cars. Instead, we're making driving cheaper, spending a paltry £20m out of a £2bn budget making trunk roads less of a barrier and effectively subsidising HGVs by £5bn a year.


The reason for all this is the lack of political will, of course, although the cyclists of Palmer's Green are doing their best. The problem is universal with business owners complaining about a lack of consultation even as consutlations are still going on in New Zealand while in Chicago a local politician claims to support cycle lanes while doing his best to scupper them at a public meeting (but elsewhere residents are demanding on-street ... bike parking in Seattle). Cycle Action Auckland got all excited by an announcement of funding only to discover they'd been had by the oldest trick in the book. Time for all of us to get ready for our walk-on part in the fight for better streets.

Mixing modes

Bikes and trains make natural partners and with Scotland's train franchises up for renewal Spokes urges cyclists to make sure that proper bike integration is front and centre (although these bikes may prove an integration too far) - a total of £15m for cycle integration nationally probably won't go very far. And as bikes are blocked from Waverley station, Utrecht struggles to build a flight of stairs big enough to keep all its bikes under - one user thinks it's pretty cool.

Criminal intent

As a dozen articles too tedious to link to aver, we won't get decent infrastructure until we behave ourselves, but it turns out, even though cyclists mostly don't run red lights, what is illegal is somewhat in the eye of the beholder: like cycling while armless, skateboarding, overtaking a phone box and walking while black, while the Leeds police seem apparently more concerned about what a cyclist was wearing than about the driver that knocked them off their bike. At least Southwark Council have asked the Met police to review their over-zealous enforcement of pavement cycling, but no such over zealousness is seen in the case of drivers who kill of course, because they need to keep their licences. Still, do be careful if you text and drive: you may not notice any pesky cyclists sneaking up behind you to catch you out.

Real road safety

If a mother is killed cycling with her children or two cyclists are killed at the same intersection in two years, or 'stop for pedestrian' signs are taken out by speeding motorists, could it be the road design at fault rather than just 'bad people'? It all depends on how many points that road has got (where points don't mean prizes, but fatalities). Of course, statistics can be bent to prove almost anything if you try hard enough (and nothing changes over two years). While in Aberdeen the greatest risk to road safety may be the sunshine in London, it might help if TfL drivers were given the same advice TfL gives to cyclists - while John Lewis continues to be never knowingly undertaken.

Cycling for everyone

Rachel Aldred pens a thoughtful piece on why we need a child's eye view of our city streets if we're to achieve real equity, while the Bike League is also considering equity and how to build a properly broad consensus over how bikes can be part of everyone's future. Certainly we need to end our complacency over child deaths on the road - and embrace the benefits of cycling whether you're pregnant (obviously not a disability - despite how some people seem to treat it), or want people to look at your cool bike rather than your wheelchair - or just need a little helping hand up the hills. And what better way to celebrate independence day than to give someone the freedom of two wheels - or to celebrate Mandela than to give someone two wheels full stop?

Finally, we end with a celebration of the life of the fabulous Billie Fleming as cyclists everywhere ask themselves: how can I get sponsored by Cadbury's to ride my bike every day for a year?