The Great Big Day of the Dead Bike Blog Roundup

No apologies for starting with the States this week, where the Governors' Highway Safety Association decided to celebrate Halloween by publishing a report on traffic deaths that seemed to be all about the dead, drunk, helmetless cyclists - despite the fact that cycling fatalities were actually less likely to be alcohol-related than traffic fatalities generally. Naturally, the blogs and campaigns quickly piled in - pointing out that the problems with the report started from the top, that risks per mile travelled had actually fallen, and that even though the report itself was a bit better than the press release that most commentators were commenting on, they didn't seem to have much of a grasp of modern infrastructure, and that the really scary figures are the lack of cycling funding. Still, at least all US cyclists have now heard of the GHSA, so job done. And, while Dandyhorse remembers the fallen on the day of the dead, and Manchester's streets turn ghoulish for Critical Mass, the media everywhere were mesmerised by the world's most frightening cyclist. More seriously, Streetsblog uncovered another Halloween horror (and it's hard to know what's sadder, that spike in child deaths on Halloween, or the spread of the dreaded hi-vis vest it has prompted) even though Halloween remains the quintessential sidewalk holiday.

Meanwhile in the UK...

... we had political horrors of our own to contend with, starting with the government's response to the the Commons Cycle Safety report in which they are alredy back-pedalling on their own draft cycling plan which in itself was a bit of a horror - although even so it's important for local authorities to submit an expression of interest in getting involved. 'Doubling' cycling rates is easy enough when cycling barely amounts to a rounding error but the Scottish Government has committed to a tenfold rise and if they want to achieve that they're drinking in the last chance saloon - especially as spending on infrastructure is actually likely to fall, although there's one MSP who now knows exactly where one of her constituents stands on the issue. And meanwhile, although there's no will to fund cycling, the UK government seems able to cut the fee for a driving licence...

All politics is local

Local politics is a reliable source of bafflement and horror all around the UK: in Glasgow, even clearing the leaves from what cycle lanes it has is beyond the award-winning council, so it's no surprise that cycling is going nowhere. In Manchester, although work is starting on the Salford greenway the latest plans out to consultation don't look too good and planners may have been copying the Dutch rather too literally. In Cambridgeshire, where the county's cycling champion seems to have got off to a bad start, even in a brand new town the cycling infrsastructure is second rate, they're still creating useless paint on the road and it will take more than a bit of centre-line removal to make a busy road feel safe - but they're going to have more Sky rides so that's all right then. Both Carlisle and Peterborough have decided bikes are more dangerous than delivery lorries. In Cardiff, Cycle Stuff muses on the pointlessness of the ASL, while CargoBike Dad wishes Belfast would follow Edinburgh's lead and ban cars around schools during the school run. But all was not entirely bad: Bristol considers opening the Downs to cycling, while eighteen months on, an in-depth assessment of Boris's cycling vision leaves the Vole O'Speed somewhat less cynical than he might have been a few months ago. And in Richmond there are signs of hope in new attitudes in the council, while a ride with councillors throws up some suggestions for a safe route from Ham to Richmond, although it's all to late for Pedestrianise London, who's just upped sticks to Rotterdam.

Further afield

Local politics seems to be the same pretty much everywhere, though. In Auckland, slow progress gets even slower while in the other Richmond, those in charge seem always to do less than is really needed and Saint Paul is still putting bike lanes in the door zone - not a good idea unless you want to meet some good samaritans the hard way. In Bulgaria, Sofia shows the UK does not have a monopoly on crap cycle lanes although at least the don't send you down (or up) a one-in-ten hill. Still, at least one Pittsburgh councillor is discovering the joy of Copenhagen cycling (and a spot of cycle chic) while Seattle upgrades some of its paint on the roads into protected bike lanes, at least temporarily. New York's bike share gets a public transport man in charge (a word of caution, though, he is from TfL...) - although as the bike share network expands, so should the protected bike lane network. And as the city lowers its speed to 25 mph, the New Yorker appears to be fighting back.

Pass me my silver bullets...

Orange 20 bikes asks if good data can act as the silver bullet to undo car-centric thinking. If so, there was plenty more ammunition this week, with yet more evidence that cycling makes you live longer (with a little help from not smoking and clean living). Cars, on the other hand cause cancer and just make your cities look really boring. So it's no surprise that reshaping communities to help people live healthier lives includes cycling facilities whether in Florida or New Jersey - while car-centric policies will make life worse for older people. In fact, many of the prescriptions to restore walking as a way of life will equally serve cyclists - but not if people on foot and on bikes are lumped together, a practice that Irish sight loss charities would like to end. The end result needn't be slower than going on the road even for the fastest cyclist. Meanwhile, academics discover why transport planners continue to ignore induced demand, it turns out the best cities suffer from more congestion even though they also have less traffic. Rachel Aldred from the Near Miss project explains why near misses matter and Canadian Veggie considers where the cyclists are in Vancouver.

Road diets and complete streets

We hear a lot about road diets and complete streets in the US, and now increasingly over here - and New York's experience shows they shouldn't be costly. But when it comes to road diets, naturally the Dutch don't do things by halves - that's not so much a road diet as a road gastric band, followed by liposuction - but simply going from four lanes to three can make a massive difference to the worst roads for everyone, as users of a dangerous street in Chicago must be hoping. But perhaps we're not being ambitious enough - we should stop messing around with Streetmix and give the whole space to bikes, or join the Belgians in prioritising a 600km cycle highway network. Sometimes it's the inspirational stuff we need - or maybe some solar power or glow-in-the-dark bike paths.

Direct action

Evidence or no evidence, sometimes the politicians still don't act, and people have to take matters into their own hands - from turning potholes into works of art to becoming their own city planners, especially as planners themselves don't always seem to have the skills to shape our cities for the future. In Serbia, one cyclist ensures he gets a hell of a lot more than three feet, while pedal power is improving lives in different ways in Lagos and Malawi. Some interventions are possibly more effective than others: this amendment to a 20mph sign might give some drivers pause for thought but tiny signs on the pavement won't do much to stop them parking on the bike lane. One Texas cyclist hopes that simply waving at drivers might work - certainly writing to their employers can make a difference. Denver is attempting to crowd-fund a cycle track, while cyclists in New York are hoping to turn the marathon into another Open Streets - as long as you get up early enough.

Bike the vote

Or you could just vote... with elections looming in North America, Dandyhorse asks if Toronto cyclists are voting with their bikes - and the Bike League offers a way to remove any doubt on the issue. Grist meets the bike-riding green liberal woman who will hopefully be giving the Tea Party nightmares in Wisconsin, while at least one Washington Mayoral candidate gets it over bikes and South Carolina voters have a chance to fund cycling and walking trails out of their sales tax.

Cycling for everyone

With a Birmingham MP defending cycling as something for everyone, not just white males, it seems in Tenessee bike lanes contribute to inequality (although having read that piece twice, I'm still not entirely sure why) - but as cycle campaigns wake up to issues of inequality, it may be time to stop talking about invisible cyclists. Certainly, women cycling in Afghanistan are anything but invisible - meanwhile, although it's great that the US is helping to spread the gospel on safer streets to the developing world, perhaps they ought to be sending them the CROW manual instead... where they're tackling the real menace on the bike lanes head on.



With London's theatres joining an 'extraordinary coalition' of London's businesses, including Microsoft, in supporting London's superhighway plans, the economic case for cycling continues to be made - right down to Whitechapel market. Sustrans challenges the assumption that free parking benefits town centres - while Toronto puts its latest bike lane right past the business that led the fight against it (and you really have to question the business logic of a bakery that doesn't want more cyclists going past it every day...) while even the biggest shop can be done by bike if you're sufficiently dedicated. Meanwhile the Bike Walk Alliance looks at how businesses and campaigners can work together, while Cycle Boom wonders where the real world experience of everyday cycling is when it comes to bike design.

Legal matters

Next time someone mentions scofflaw cyclists this shocking statistic might shut them up (don't count on it) - but remember that it's okay to hit someone if you're blinded by the sun. Or perhaps we should go all 'broken windows' on drivers who abuse their horn - and remember when we're behind the wheel that we don't give space, we're taking it. As bereaved families join Scotland's presumed liability campaign, an English coroner declines to issue a Prevention of Future Death report that would ask the authorities to make changes to the roads. Ressearchers discover what makes some cyclists jump red lights (on the other hand, if you do stop, you might meet some interesting people). And while San Francisco's 'Crosswalk Karma' scheme may just be wishful thinking, there's a lot to be said for making drivers walk (or cycle) a mile in our shoes if they can't see why they should pass bikes safely.

Winter cycling

With winter weather on the horizon, spare a thought for Minneapolis's cyclists where temperatures average -11C in Feburary and it takes extreme persistence to get a bike bridge cleared of snow. And just be careful that if someone offers you ice tyres they aren't actually made of ice (and how we missed the jet-powered Raleigh Shopper, we have no idea)

And finally

well, it's been a bit of a shocker this week, so let's end on a little happiness instead, from a unicorn bike to a happy rescue dog and her human - and a retired cycling king busy adding to his nation's Gross National Happiness. Enjoy


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