The Great Big Where's MY Sticker Bike Blog Roundup

Hearts and minds

It used to be you got a sticker for being good, now it seems all you have to do to earn one is park in a bike lane or rent a car from Europcar, although the company is now denying they were theirs - perhaps they were placed there by a passing cyclist or pedestrian who'd suffered a near miss? Stickering someone's beloved car is unlikely to win over any hearts and minds - but what will? A column from one Pittsburgh cartoonist who made a damascene conversion gives us some clues: it was personal stories - perhaps such as this lovely hymn to the freedom of the bike - that changed his mind, even though sometimes we have to admit that cycling can be a bit rubbish especially in the big city. It may also help to change the way we talk especially about collisions. We can take advantage of bike challenges like coffeeneuring to make your cycling custom more noticeable to businesses - or events like PARKing day to disrupt the certainties of everyday life. Or perhaps you need training courses that get professional drivers onto bikes themselves - perhaps better than Glasgow's online training course, with which it is fairly safe to say that Magnatom was unimpressed. Certainly it seems that understanding life on two wheels means motorbike riders make for courteous drivers around bikes.

Bikelash and bikelash-lash

Either way, the bikelash and the fight back against the bikelash continued at full strength this week. Mark Ames came back from a short breakd to discover the whole of London up in arms over the Cycle Superhighways proposal with 50 CEOs writing in support (and even if you're not a CEO you can still provide your support) but others still concerned about impacts to journey times even though the figures released don't take into account likely changes in behaviour from road users. The rest of us may be sick of hearing about London but what happens there will likely trickle down to the rest of us, bikelash included. Certainly in the New Forest where locals are urged to write to their MP to get the decision to scupper the bike hire scheme reversed - especially as it turns out the 'significant local opposition' may have been exaggerated when the actual consultation figures are looked at. Meanwhile in Waltham Forest rival petitions are battling it out over the mini-Holland road closures, cyclists and pensioners battle it out over a shared use path in Bristol, pavement widening is pitted against bike lanes in Richmond, a train company is forced to deny rumours it's planning on banning bikes, while in Leeds plans to relocate a trial closure will just provide a new rat run. Nor are we unique in suffering these battles in the UK - in Toronto, the city's there and gone again bike lanes are re-emerging from the past, while even the Dutch might discover that scrapping their cycling tax break will cost them more money in the long run.


Not that the Dutch are proving themselves all that deficient in other matters - with another iconic - some might argue excessive - bridge designed to put a town on the map. Such schemes are nothing like as over-engineered as the ones non cycling countries come up with to avoid taking space from cars - such as a floating cycle path along the Thames or attempts to squeeze more space for pavements onto a Seattle bridge without using the obvious measure of taking a lane from the cars. Still at least Rhode Island is recycling a freeway crossing into a bridge for people not cars, while Trondheim's famous cycle lift is just part of a whole package of measures designed to overcome hills, weather and distance as barriers to cycling. In Edinburgh, plans for an upgraded path bring out a strange emotion in on cyclist: quiet optimism. But perhaps not everything has to be massively engineered - traffic cones and astroturf create a remarkably acceptable popup bike lane in Portland and while it was temporary, the evolution of a New York bike lane shows what a bit of bottom-up action can achieve. In Minneapolis the merits of centre-line removal and advisory bike lanes are hotly debated, including a look at where they might legally go while Milwaukee gets on with just quietly adding buffering to some bike lanes when it repaints a road. While in the UK a 'panda crossing' may not be perfect, but as York are discovering, even a closed, half finished cycle path will get used if the alternative is horrible.

...And underengineering

Let's not get too carried away by the usefulness of half-measures though - for instance, Berlin is not the model to copy if we're serious about cycling, and it's cycle tracks not cycling culture that creates bike friendliness. Filtered permeability might cut traffic but won't necessarily increase cycling if it's still hard to cross major roads. Hopes that Sighthill was going to become Glasgow's equivalent of Houten have proved over-optimistic - hardly surprising when you look at what has been done even around the velodrome. San Diego are possibly getting a bit overexcited about ASLs - although it seems Wisconsin recognises their limitations, while Bike Toronto fixes a nice shared space design by adding the cars back in for them.

Understanding the barriers

Some of these mistakes wouldn't get made if people understood the barriers to cycling - something CycleBOOM is seeking to understand among older people, a medical charity wants to know what injured cyclists' priorities are, while Rachel Aldred looks at conditions from the point of view of those cycling with children (and if you're going to take two toddlers through three countries by bike, it helps if one of them is the Netherlands and one Denmark). That said it's women's time pressed lives that can act as a barrier for some, so next time you chaps are tempted to wonder why the women in your life don't cycle, ask yourself if you're giving them time to do it - and don't accuse them of cheating if they opt for a bit of assistance. Some barriers to cycling can be vaulted with the help of a tandem or two (as long as nobody's been putting chicanes in the cycle paths) while there's no amount of infrastructure that will protect you from some unpleasant hazards. And of course it does help if parking for bikes is prioritised around your flagship refurbished library - rather than concreting over the grass to provide more convenient parking for cars.

Beyond bikes

We're all about the infrastructure here at the Cycling Embassy but sometimes you have to look beyond dropped kerbs and path widths and se the bigger picture - such as creating social spaces and freedom for children. For instance, considering what your route to the shops looks like (perhaps with this handy instant pannier) makes it clear that the transport sector needs to look at accessibility for everyone rather than traffic congestion - not a lesson that's being taken on board in Sheffield -and that car-centric planning makes cities more expensive not cheaper. That may be why Chicago businesses are raising money to install bike parking and using 'people spots' to revitalise a commercial street, while in Cleveland they're backing an entirely privately-run bike share scheme.

Political will

After last week's outbreak of optimism, it was back to politics as usual, despite the Cycling minister rearranging his diary so he could wave off a Space for Cycling ride in Birmingham. The government are told to stop treating cycling like a poor relation while Magnatom points out that Edinburgh will leave Glasgow in the dust if it won't commit any of its own money to cycling. In Newcastle the council still seem to need encouragement to implement their own priorities for the city and a girl who'd like to cycle to school gets a politician's answer while in West Sussex cyclists are petitioning the council for safe cycling and in Hackney it seems that just because it's not easy on some roads to provide space for cycling, it shouldn't be done on any of them. Perhaps we need to look to the US where People for Bikes puts its huge supporters' list at the disposal of local campaigns, while in New York, StreetsPAC keeps cycling at the top of the political agenda - and the ECF is busy lobbying the UN. Not that every politician has seen the light in the US - California's governor has vetoed four hit-and-run bills while one US mayor took anti-cyclist sentiment out of the political arena and onto the roads.

Scofflaws revisited

Road-raging mayors aside, for some reason it continues to be law-breaking cyclists who are considered the real danger even though being hit by a car exposes just how vulnerable someone on a bike can be. Even cycle messengers are paying the price of their employers' incentives - and we can also ask why the employers aren't punished if they're found to be implicated when an over-tired driver kills someone. It helps also to understand why cyclists might ride without lights and provide illumination rather than tickings-off. With California's new 3-foot passing law in force, here's some help to drivers who may not be sure what that means while pedestrians in Minnesota get some help in sticking to the proper path and not following their pesky desire lines all the time.

Real safety

Cyclist crackdowns are often dressed up in the rhetoric of making cycling safer, but in New York it would appear it's had no effect on deaths at all - Portsmouth politicians should take note. Meanwhile in Seattle, the new protected bike lanes have shown there is a way to make cycling safer, although Transport for London still seems to want to wait for accidents to happen before making any changes to improve road safety. Sadly, it has taken a fatality in Croydon to get the coroner to urge the council to look at issues with the tram tracks - while at least in Nottingham a cyclist was only injured. LA sets itself the goal of eliminating traffic deaths by 2025 (it might want to start with tying up the loose ends of its cycle network) but in Seattle it looks as if changes may have come too late for one seven-year-old, while Cycling in Christchurch wonder if New Zealand's draft Cycle Safety Recommendations would have made a difference in recent fatalities.

Numbers game

There's nothing bike bloggers like more than some nice data, and Ranty Highwayman has a play with the numbers of bikes and cars on selected roads. American bloggers have been doing the same, but America's transport stats are too often blind to bikes - and the projections for car traffic in some states are completely out of whack with reality - but that won't stop them being used to drive the final nail into Detroit's coffin. More hopefully, Philadelphia is looking at crowdsourcing where best to put its bike share stations.

View from elsewhere

Read it here first: Madrid may be becoming the new poster child for cycling as it moves towards a car-free city centre although isolated islands of bike friendliness don't make for a real cycling city, while its advocates visit Capetown to see what lessons it might have. Or perhaps we'll all be citing Chennai which wants to promot human powered transport in all its forms, or Budapest or even Karlovo in Bulgaria. Certainly, there are lessons for Auckland in Brisbane and Belfast can look to Dublin to see what happens if you do allow taxis into bus lanes - and while we may moan about the maintenance of some of our cycle paths, at least we don't have to deal with what happens when a hurricane hits...

When N+1 goes bad

As one pensioner discovers that storing tatty old cars on the street is fine, just not tatty old bikes (perhaps he needs a bike hangar or 300), his neighbours must be hoping he never goes to Burning Man, while perhaps he could help this scheme in Aberdeen giving students a cheap taste of cycling - although perhaps not with this mathematically inspired bike. What happens when N+1 becomes N-1: anyone who's ever had a beloved bike stolen should probably look away now...

And finally

It's been a bit of a gloomy week, so let's end with a positive note: how do you pick up your MBE for services to cycling? by bike of course - all the way from Cardiff.