The Great Big Never Mind the Bikelanes, Feel the Bikelash Bike Blog Roundup

Eyecatching story of the week was undoubtedly Streetfilms' bikelash video and the implication that a certain amount of pushback was an inevitable part of the evolution of cycling policy and something you should be looking out for in your city. If so, then the Australian suburb of Glenroy - where motorists ripped out bollards protecting a bike lane - is clearly evolving, as is Yate where residents fear 'bicycle traffic', and Richmond, Virginia where plans for a bike boulevard get watered down to the odd buildout in the face of residents' hostility. Meanwhile, however healthy a sign a bikelash may be, cyclists do still deserve safety, while it turns out that jokes about hitting cyclists aren't just in poor taste, they're dangerous too.

Bikelash in action

Reactions to London's cycle superhighway plan might prove a classic bikelash case study - with it already being described as being 'railroaded through' with the help of the 'evangelical wing' of the bike lobby (that would be us, then, praise be) - and even professed cyclists getting sucked into London's negative narrative, old fashioned though that narrative may be. The evangelicals are fighting back, with Cyclists in the City outlining three ways to help make the cycle track, while Ranty Highwayman makes the case for the deeper benefits including to engineers. In the end though, it may be neither opposition nor evangelicals that have the final say, but the London Super Sewer which may mean the superhighway is dug up before the paint has even dried (you may insert your own political metaphor here).

Build it and they will come...

One thing that's likely is that if it's ever built, the Superhighway will be heavily used - with bike traffic tripling on Seattle's protected lane within weeks of being opened - even though it's still not completely child friendly. In contrast, the latest commuting data show the US's leading cycling cities are seeing cycle rates plateau at best - while New York has seen cycling double in five years, Portland should actually be aiming to be more like Pittsburgh and it's long since time for Delaware to get its first protected bike lane, while in Toronto there's plenty of room - and a bit of wayfinding wouldn't go amiss, either.

... but only if you build it right

Of course 'build it' doesn't mean a bunch of on-again, off-again 1.5 m wide bike lanes, or traffic lights that take four minutes to cross the road or rubbish shared-used pavement routes. But fortunately there are signs that some designs that improve things for bikes and pedestrians are possible, and it turns out that if you want bikes to be taken into account during roadworks you only have to ask. Meanwhile, even as a study finds that it's removing paint, not adding it that makes drivers give cyclists room, campaigners are wondering whether the blue paint of CS2 was, after all, better than nothing, while in Cambridgeshire, the council has had to hand back a supermarket's money because in the end it didn't generate enough traffic to justify spending it on cycling infrastructure

Cyclists need three feet, and other laws

The spotlight was once more on the law with California's three foot passing law coming into force. It was fair to say that San Diego Bikeist was a bit underwhelmed while cycleicious looked at the possible impact and others suggesting how to improve the law. You do wonder if it will be as zealously enforced as the law is for one Kentucky single mother jailed for not riding her bike sufficiently out of the way of the important drivers - while in San Jose they're moving ahead with getting cyclists off the pavement even though in the US most pavement riding isn't illegal. Unlike in the UK, where a Tory MP is calling for a three strikes rule for those caught cycling on the pavements (we look forward to those parking on them also having their cars confiscated - sauce for the goose, and all that) although at least our police can admit when they're wrong. In Australia, Victoria is considering some radical proposals (not sure 'repeal the helmet law' is included there...) while even in the land of the (cycling) free there are issues with rule breaking among cyclists.

Discrimination redux

Last week's big story about whether cycling is discriminatory prompted Darkerside to ask if there was a grain of truth in the whole issue - we do need the infrastructure to encourage all kinds of riding (and not exclude the unfit and overweight). In the US, a Minnesota study provides a more nuanced picture of the cycling gender gap while New York cycling women fight back against the stereotypes. Inclusion isn't just about gender, of course - advocates need to look beyond the stereotypes and consider people's experience, perspectives and capabilities, while there are ways to reach out to disadvantaged communities effectively without further alienating them.

Reclaiming our cities

This week included Parking Day, which showed how effectively space could be reclaimed from cars, even with just a roll of newsprint (or some snow) - the fact is that cities need streets that fail, at least in traffic terms. In Ireland, bikes and pedestrians ideally need space separated from each other. In Portland, businesses are taking matters into their own hands and creating a popup plaza of their own - while in Toronto it's cyclists who are attempting to reclaim their bike lanes from the parking menace. At the end of the day, cycling turns a city into a social space - so perhaps we should stop counting cyclists as a measure of succes and instead count how many friends you've made through cycling.

Politics as usual after all

In the week that Scotland decided not to go it alone, even though that might have been the best choice for Bristol, cyclists still need forward to building a better nation despite a UK government that seems to have abandoned localism, at least if it gets in the way of the motorist's right to park whereever they choose, while another front opened on the War on the Motorist. In London Christian Wolmar is putting cycling at the heart of his mayoral campaign (well, when he's speaking to Cycling Weekly, anyway) while Ulster's politicians seem to have finally woken up to cycling - with possibly even a paradigm shift appearing in Belfast council's approach - while for the rest of the UK, the CTC is planning a mass bike ride in support of cycling at the Labour party conference today. For once it's the politicians elsewhere who are not covering themselves with glory - although most Toronto council candidates have signed up to the idea of building a minimum grid, a candidate in Oregon considers cycling infrastructure a fringe thing while a Philadelphia councillor puts a halt to planned bike lanes at the last minute. In Dublin there are plenty of plans but no vision or drive - while in Christchurch, a campaigner learns the hard way how to make sure your submission is actually useful to the relevant committee.

Reaping the benefits

Meanwhile the evidence continues to pile up in favour of moving away from driving - from avoiding 1.4m early deaths and saving trillions to making everyone happy and more productive, and should make a shopping street more attractive - no wonder one Norwegian city has been paying people to walk of cycle, albeit only for a week - perhaps a similar carrot and stick appraoch could ease the pressure on on-road parking. And for all those bikes stuck trapped in a shed could Spinlister be the answer to gain them some freedom and their owners some cash?

Going multimodal

As the Dutch continue to raise the game on cycle parking, here in the UK we make sure that station bike parking never gets overcroweded by preventing cyclists from using it. In a novel move, Sydney consulsts cyclists over integration with its planned light rail scheme, while in Copenhagen the city hopes to use LED lights to reduce conflict between cyclists and bus passengers. But perhaps rather than public transport, we should be looking at bicycle-oriented development instead.

Safety issues

Safety continues to loom large with the death of two charity cyclists raising the question of why 'end to end' rides are disproportionately dangerous. TfL finally manages to come up with a lorry safety sticker that informs without either alarming or annoying cyclists - unfortunately a New York Times piece on the death of a cyclist manages neither. Lloyd Alter finds himself reluctantly putting his helmet back on - if nothing else, it gives you somewhere to put your camera in case of a gun-toting drive-by mugging...


Cycling for fun and profit

With news that the UK cycling revolution is cancelled due to the summer being too hot for all those mums and dads to go out on a nice bike ride, the People's Cycling Front feels it's a sign that our cycling culture is still too dependent on the leisure bike ride. That said, even the Dutch like to go for a nice Sunday ride - and the desire to cycle aimlessly is a good sign of decent infrastructure. Indeed cycling can become part of a city's tourism brand, and there are lessons for rural areas too about building bike tourism.

Going places

As usual, there was no shortage of cycling-related tourism going on in the blog world, virtual and actual, with five lessons Toronto (indeed most cities) could learn from Copenhagen - and now officials from any US city can learn from there and other European cities for themselves. Elsewhere, Velib or not, cycling in Paris is still pretty scary - and Vancouver's bike network is good but there are still gaps.

And finally

Wherever you go by bike, there are some things you don't want to leave behind. Like your piano...