The Great Big Peace'n'Love'n'Understanding Bike Blog Roundup

Welcome to the bumper two-for-the-price-of-one Bike Blog Roundup - we can't be the only ones who've returned from a week off to find that somehow more than a week's work has accumulated in our absence. This was the fortnight when a council discovered it would rather hand money back to the government than encourage any more of them pesky cyclists to the area - is it time to treat the New Forest's upcoming Wiggle sportive as cycling's 'Pride' parade? Indeed with cyclists sometimes treated as if we were separate species, ones who can be bullied with a motorised weapon, we do appear to have greater enemies out there than each other, although a bit less of the old circular firing squad would sometimes be welcome. Still, all is not lost, with one bike hater in the US swapping her windshield perspective for a handlebar one, and in good news for lovers of laddish humour, it's OK to like Top Gear again, or at least James May.


Cycling for everyone

But is cycling for everyone, or really just something that mostly appeals to fit white people? Is cycle campaigning just white men shouting at each other - and has the recession taken the diversity out of local bike movements? In fact it turns out that cycling is one of the few things that the rich and poor have in common in the US - and equally helps the poor in Denmark and the Netherlands, where the diversity of people who cycle there is captured in one video in Utrecht, although even we are not entirely sure that a rather expensive cargo bike is quite the answer the homeless were looking for, even in the Netherlands. For others, cycling can be a way to manage otherwise debilitating conditions and, while not itself a cure for cancer, can help keep a cancer patient relatively healthy - until she stopped. Which is why it's all the more important that we have bikes and bridges that anyone can use - and reach out women perhaps through the medium of tea. And to help with this, please do fill in this survey on cycling with children whether you have any of the little darlings or not.



Meanwhile, if we do want to make sure cycling is for everyone, we need to ensure we're campaigning for infrastructure in poorer neighbourhoods as well as in rich ones - and accept the odd compromise, like a truck or even a tractor on a cycle path (in the right context) or taking space away from pavements as long as pedestrian comfort isn't compromised. And when things go wrong - when motorways roar away while bike paths stagnate and pedestrians are reduced to carrying flags we need to make sure we blame the right people, including ourselves. We need to stop cheering every minute increase in cycling as if it is significant - and maybe protest a little more, like cyclists have done over the continuing lack of safety at Kings Cross, or an unfinished cycle path in Clerkenwell, or those marking the ten year delay building a cycle path after a fatality in Rye, or, further afield, the good people of Omaha who want their cycle czar back or the people of Toronto who finally got their protected parking lane although the city hasn't exactly gone mad with the bollards.

We have a dream...

Or specifically, Joe Costello does, of a dream cycle way, while the people of Cleveland dream of repurposing their old streetcar network for bikes - and California is already making great use of an old railway tunnel. Copenhagen's green wave is spreading through the city while Melbourne gets the elevated cycleway bug, although the jury is still out on its usefulness, and even in Glasgow, there's a piece of infrastructure that isn't crap, just a bit isolated while Pittsburgh's first protected bike lane is almost ready (and already in use). Meanwhile, Houten proves wonderful for cycling just (whisper it) a bit dead for everything else. And, just like a dream, pop up bikeways are taking America by storm - but only for a day - and a DC cyclist reminds us that protected bike lanes are brilliant - until they end.


Or is it a nightmare?

Of course, even a one-day popup cycleway might be an improvement on some of the stuff we get to keep, like this nice gravel track for cyclists who for some reason would prefer to use the nice smooth promenade, or a national route that gets completely blocked by roadworks or a cycle path that just ends. Which is a bit daft, because if you want to cut pavement cycling by 70% then installing a better bike lane is the way to do it - and taming cars makes life safer for pedestrians as well.

Consultation watch

Jusst because it's summer, doesn't mean the consultations have stopped (in fact some conspiracy theorists might argue the opposite) with the London Cycling Design Standards greeted by most cycle campaigns as a mixed bag: the LCC gives them a guarded welcome, especially the cycling level of service idea, us criticising the level of detail and objectivity especially in the distinction between 'movement' and 'place' (of which more anon), and the CTC find them good by UK standards but that weaknesses remain. Elsewhere in London, Southwark Cyclists were responding to Quietway plans, pointing out that junctions are key (and Quietway money shouldn't get spent on non-cyclign stuff) and while it's an improvement, will it allow children to cycle independently to school? In the City of London they're rolling out more two-way cycling on one-way streets while Ranty looks at the proposals for an East London Crossing and wonders if a lot of little bridges mightn't be a better idea. Further afield, plans for a Cycle Point in Ely are out to tender, changes in Cambridge will acheive little without enforcing speed limits and restricting traffic, Coventry proposes yet more shared use pavements and Glasgow council offers another nonsultation while East Dunbartonshire actually listens. And finally, it turns out that the DfT already knew its plan to raise speed limits for lorries will kill more cyclists - it just doesn't seem to care.

Movement vs place

There was a fair bit of discussion on twitter about movement and place this week, not all of it entirely comprehensible, but Rachel Aldred feels we need to rethink our own understanding of the two concepts. Whatever the precise definitions, many blogs seemed to touch on the subject: in Belfast, a slower bike gives Ellen Murray whole new perspective on the city while Cycling with Heels argues that if you get the infrastructure right then we can all slow down. For the Calgary Herald Canadian campgrounds may be the model for people-friendly streets while a visit to Detroit's slow roll shows how restoring a sense of 'place' can be part of a city's revival - sadly, not a lesson that Musselburgh has absorbed where a town centre refurbishment gets downgraded to 'a bit more parking' - and it's not just an issue for cities; rural areas need bike lanes too. Meanwhile California finally drops 'levels of service' as a measure - the number of cars you can push through a road, while Mexico City grants 'the right to mobility' to all citizens, regardless of how they travel.


On the buses

But how about if that's by bus? As Easy as Riding a Bike argues that space needs to be taken from private cars not buses - and equally, bus projects shouldn't make life harder for people on bikes.Rachel Aldred has a go at modelling bike bus interactions to see how they hold each other up - while over the Irish sea, Dublin's trams could be an opportunity for everyone.

Space for Parking

Of course, that might mean taking away space from parking which would never do, especially not in Fleet where the stations upgrade has brought plenty of space for parking but still no word on when the cycle parking will be restored. And even in Amsterdam it seems that car parking takes up phenomenal amounts of space - although at least in the Netherlands so do bikes (and in Pittsburgh it turns out that if you want decent parking at your supermarket you just have to ask). Meanwhile, if you've ever wanted to quantify just how badly someone has parked their car, science is at hand

It's the economy, stupid


Meanwhile, although we're happy to subsidise trams but claim cycling infrastructure is unaffordable, the UK's cyclists roll on, saving their cities millions while car drivers continue to be subsidised. As Elly Blue continues to spread the word about how bikes can save the economy, a Toronto company discovers that basically stealing people's bikes from a public street is really, really bad PR.

That cycling revolution in full

One year on after the Prime Minister announced a 'cycling revolution' - just how is it going? Well British Cycling tells it like it is, while Chris Boardman points out it's ridiculous for the government to keep spending more money on roads while Carsick Glasgow trumpets the Commonwealth Games legacy. In London, cyclists wonder if Boris will fulfil his own cycling promises before he disappears off to become an MP, while in Bristol, the much vaunted new cycling spending is just 5% of the transport budget - while 8% of journeys are already made by bike (but it's still doing a lot better than Renfrewshire council. Fortunately, according to a Glasgow MSP anyway, people don't need infrastructure, they just need a little encouragement to take up cycling; this may be why Glasgow's public bike counter risks causing very public embarrassment, as public encouragement campaigns tend to work about as well as share the road ones do. Perhaps what we need is a little inter-city rivalry, which is driving ambitious bike plans in Washington State.

Justice, what justice

As a cyclist finally wins a three-year battle for compensation after life changing injuries, we also found out what it takes for someone to get a prison term for killing cyclists (basically 67 previous driving convictions). Still, at least punishment was swift for one road-raging and now ex- bus driver, while sometimes, just sometimes, there is a little poetic justice in the world.

A numbers game

If you're looking for data, you're in the right place with 700 cities ordered by cycling mode share, not to mention all 19,000 cycle casualties in 2013 mapped. Velomondial has pulled together resources from the Dutch cycling experts while Jersey's helmet law prompts the LCC to sum up the state of the knowledge when it comes to bike helmets. Far more interestingly, road closures for the visit of the Tour de France dramatically improved air quality, while researchers in Settle are using bikes to monitor air quality. In London, TfL discover removing the centre lines does actuall slow traffic. Unsurprisingly, states where more people walk and cycle healthier overall - whereas, slightly more surprisingly, if everyone in Portland left their bike at home it wouldn't have that much of an impact on traffic, partly because it's already at a standstill, and besides it already happens every time it rains. Finally, non-surprising non-figure of the week was the carnage that America's bike share schemes are failing to bring to the streets - the only real casualty has been the company that runs them.

News from elsewhere

Meanwhile, travelling bike bloggers everywhere bring back reports: from a bike commute in Kampala to braving the streets of New York. A trip to Copenhagen from Chattanooga is an eye opener, while the BBC contrasts cycling in Utrecht with London. A visitor from New Zealand finds cyclists in Oxford do so despite the infrastructure while even if you're mixing with traffic in the Netherlands it's so slow and scarce, it barely matters, while the bikes just flow like water. Sometimes you don't even have to visit - Kim Harding is inspired by Dublin over the internet, whereas you can see Glasgow's bike network isn't exactly joined up just by looking on Google.

And finally

The next time someone calls you a twat for riding a bike ... well, words fail me