The Great Big Legacy, what Legacy? Bike Blog Roundup

As the Tour Yorkshire decants itself to France, and before the last of the knitted bunting has even been taken down, the shine is already coming off the supposed legacy, with news that £6 million of TfL's cycle safety budget had been blown on the London stage - while the schoolchildren of Lambeth haven't bought the hype, probably because the conditions in the UK remain exactly as they were: a country where schools need to put out cones on top of existing road markings to stop illegal parking, the prospect of a new path attracting thousands of cyclists is considered something to fear - and MPs support petitions banning cycle racing on the A50. And when you think about it, the Tour hasn't exactly done a great deal for utility cycling in its own home country - although at least one US racing team has been forward-thinking enough to help fund cycle campaigning (and one US sports star in a very different sport could transform cycling in Cleveland). That said, experiencing the joy of closed roads and a nudge to cycle may provide some benefit - certainly for Crafty Bike Girl experiencing some real mass cycling was the highlight of the tour, while if it provides a handy excuse for Cambridge councillors to back down on the Huntingdon Road cycle track then it will not have been in vain. Still, while Halfords might be selling more bikes, any talk of a cycling revolution should be handled with care - that sort of hype has been going on since at least 1973.

A real revolution?

That said, something does seem to be afoot in London, with plans released for Vauxhall that are a step change better - with the potential to be London's first actual superhighway (at least until it hits the roadblock that is Westminster Council) while the Oval junction - a first glimpse at what TfL are calling 'cyclesafe' junctions - has the potential to be best in class according to Cyclists in the City, although before we get too excited, the Southwark stretch of the 'Q2' quietway suggests the Quietways are going to be the usual muddled compromise. Real revolutions will be underpinned by real design guidelines - and Chapter 3 of the draft London Cycle Design Standards gets an Embassy going over and proves a bit muddled - and if you're still thinking 'I really must get around to commenting on that before the consultation closes' then please do join us for #LCDSHour as we tweet our way through the monstrous document from 8 to 9 tonight (Anyone thinking it's not that important, might want to consider how earlier design guidance allowed local authorities just to ignore cycling if they wanted to, entrenching cycling inequalities.)

Or business as usual?

Even as Bristol sells its £16 per head cycle plan on its economic benefits, for the rest of the UK it turns out that 'Local Growth' apparently has nothing to do with cycling with just £64m announced for sustainable travel which will work out as around 80p a head on average; in South Tyneside it's as much as 90p a head - a nice contrast to the £90 per head it costs the region to treat the consequences of inactivity. To add insult to injury what peanuts we do get are stolen for non-cycling schemes - even in London, the Tottenham Court Road revamp is really just a bus priority scheme with a little walking and cycling shoehorned in at the edges, although Cambridge county council has at least managed to get funding for a long-campaigned-for cycle link between Melbourn and Royston. Further north, there's no sign of Glasgow council delivering its promises for cycling investment while Network Rail continues to blockade Waverley station to bikes. Nor are problems confined to the UK: in the US, states and cities are battling out the priorities between moving cars and making places for people, while in New York there's no real point going to the police over blocked bike lanes and in LA all progress on installing bike parking stops for a year because there was just the one guy doing it, and he retired.

Lessons learned

As the Green Lanes project attempts to log every protected bike lane in North America, they might be a bit busy - from an imperfect buffered bike lane in South San Francisco to plans to transform a 5-lane road in the heart of Denver, communities in the US are getting themselves infrastructure by hook or by crook while in New Zealand there's excitement as work actually starts on Christchurch's first cycle track after years of anticipation. But will the design be right first time? While the Dutch churn out boringly normal cycling infrastructure year after year (and yes pedestrians get catered for too), elsewhere lessons are being learned the hard way as Washington abandons its armadillos for more substantial buffers - while Dublin seems confused about the purpose of its non-headstarting cycle traffic lights and Toronto's 'shared' spaces serve to exclude the vulnerable. In the UK, a Lincoln bypass is sent back to the drawing board to be made safer for cyclists, but in Manchester even national cycle routes are plagued by the sign of failure of the 'cyclist dismount' sign, and we are only now finally letting go of the idea that bus lanes are cycle infrastructure.


Even as the UK press suffers a mild outbreak of self-hating bike nonsense, the Washington Post publishes a real doozy of a bikelash column suggesting a $500 fine might be worth it to run over a cyclist - which is a bit scary when that's your local paper. It provoked a strong reaction with a detailed refutation from the local campaign group and a point by point smackdown from the WashCycle, while others considered that it was as much about the urban/suburban divide as race and/or gentrification, that it didn't consider the real injustices - while Brooklyn Spoke points out that bikelash articles actually bring cycling infrastructure to the attention of the mainstream and help to publicise bike schemes. More thoughtfully, one blogger considers why it is that relatively harmless bikes attract such bile from otherwise smart people. However, it's when the bikelash goes from words to deeds (or even 'rolling coal') that things get really unpleasant - while harrassment from a driver may not quite ruin the pleasure of riding with your kids, for a more vulnerable road user a close pass and a thrown drink can end quite badly (although at least in the UK the cyclist didn't end up being the one who was charged)


Economics and equity

Every week there is more evidence of the economic benefit of cycling investment - with this week's crop including recent research suggesting returns of up to 20 times the amount invested, a $28 million bike path programme increasing cycling by 66%, cities saving money in legal claims, the real cost of free parking, arguments to include bike share when considering 'transit oriented development' and Detroit potentially being reborn as a bike city rather than Motown... We also had Portland businesses calling for protected bike lanes as they see how their rivals are benefiting, and even the chance to turn your bike into a mobile billboard. But could the 'bikelash' genuinely be the result of some communities being ignored or even excluded from the bike revolution? As Nike's corporate bike share bikes overwhelm local bike parking, are cycling infrastructure projects taking everyone's needs into account - and do campaigners really understand the barriers to cycling among the poorest? Campaigners need to avoid labelling objectors as NIMBYs and understand why people in poorer neighbourhoods may not favour riding bikes, however much of a 'no brainer' it may seem.

Beware bicycle face

We might laugh at Victorian prejudices dressed up as medical concerns but, even though riding a bike ought to give anyone an insight into what it's like to be female, it seems that attitudes to cycling women are still stuck in the dark ages - at least for America's vehicular dinosaur, John Forester - while women are having to take back the streets from the harassers (even the bike-borne ones). Meanwhile the simple question of why women might join groups but not turn up proves to have some interesting answers.

Health and safety

Should we design our streets for wellbeing - or concentrate on safety in major crashes? Well, it might help if road design rather than cycling behaviour featured in the safety debate at all - and perhaps buses wouldn't form a double hazard - If TfL learned a lesson from the rail industry in achieving real safety. While everyone agrees that slower speeds lie at the heart of safer cities, lower speed limits may not be enough - the trouble is that while everyone loves 20mph limits around their own home they don't stick to them around everyone else's. If New York is to acheive its vision zero, it needs to rethink its streets totally (though maybe not the dreaded shared space) - rather than shelving safety recommendations at deadly junctions. As Beyond the Kerb considers the worst road safety film ever - discovers an unlikely road safety champion in a pre war comic.

Crossing continents

As always, bloggers have been on their travels and reporting back, sometimes with a little edge of rivalry: if you come from Portland (or indeed Nairobi) then Minneapolis is nothing special apparently, while if you come from Kansas City then Portland is just 'whoa' and if you come from Dhaka then San Francisco is pretty good. If you come from almost anywhere then Australian cycling might drive even the most optimistic to despair and if you're from New Zealand then cycling in Shanghai rivals bungee jumping - although 'after an hour or two of riding the fear subsides' and even abnormal bikes are still totally normal in China. looks at how Stockholm intends to double its cycling share while in Utrecht a spot of time travel shows how nothing much has changed - except more bike lanes.

A miscellany

Sometimes a week throws up a number of interesting posts that just don't fit anywhere else in the roundup - from how to speak car to the unexpected joy of tractor drafting for the rural cyclist. Bikeable Jo finds a simple solution to a common problem goes viral. Julie Campoli campaigns to bring back the 'Sunday drive' - making the car the leisure vehicle it once was - while Howie Chong considers how the tired old perennial the helmet question can shed some light on climate change. Sheclismo considers why you shouldn't cycle to work while in Boston a 'librarian powered' mobile library might just offer my perfect job (hopefully with its own bike repair stand).

And finally

For all the lonely cycle campaigners everywhere: take heart - and may you find someone who shares your passion...