The Great Big Rise of the Undead Bike Blog Roundup

We thought we'd done with zombies after Halloween last week, but some things just keep on coming long after we thought they had been laid to rest. It's becoming fashionable to blame the BBC for everything these days, but I think we're justified in this case: after a busy week for cycling in the mainstream media, the BBC's cycle safety week represented a serious misssed opportunity - if only they'd read the report on London cycling fatalities first they might have come up with something useful. It did give Chris Boardman another opportunity to speak more sense to middle England (although maybe he should just move his eight year old to the Netherlands) - naturally middle England then just turned it into a reprise of the helmet debate which we had hoped not to have to bother with ever again.

Zombie arguments

No such luck, however - with a bicycle helmet charity rebranding and saying child safety is more than just about helmets - it's about helmets AND hi vis - and Miliband's new advisor proving he doesn't get it either, Bike and Blog in Australia at least discovered the only really useful helmet law there is. Nor was the helmet debate the only argument to come lumbering at us out of the grave: 90% of the public apparently want to ban cyclists from wearing headphones (no news on their thoughts about them towing their own pianos) - despite their being little real evidence either way, and pedestrians (and most importantly narrow shared use paths) being as much of a problem as cyclists.

Elsewhere, journalists were still flogging the vehicular argument, residents were suing the city in New York to stop a dangerous bike path, and a solar-powered e-bike is designed to lay to rest the argument that cycling emits too much CO2 (and yes, that one has been made in all seriousness). Ranty Highwayman tackles the 'common sense' idea that turning off traffic lights is the way to traffic nirvana while driving instructors finally tackle the ignorance of some drivers about why a cyclist might be in the middle of the road - something that might not be needed if cycling was on the national curriculum. There was an outbreak of actual commonsense in Canada with pedestrian flags being greeted by universal derision, while in Toronto the old canard that that bike lanes are a waste of time because nobody cycles in winter is being thoroughly put to rest with snow used creatively to act as a barrier to cars instead of to cycling. Meanwhile, it seems you can always trust a Tory MP to find a new and xenophobic slant to an old argument. Chapeau!

Empowering everyone

What's curious in all this is that the evidence in favour of investing in cycling also just keeps on coming and yet none of it seems to make any impact - could it be that cycling just has too many benefits for governments to cope with? Because bike-friendly cities are not just about the bike, and well-designed streets empower everyone - including the most marginalised - something that the American AARP (representing older people) fully understands. It might help if we didn't use terms that marginalised the very people we were trying to reach out to, but instead reach out to help the most marginalised on their own terms and created cities that respect people in every detail. Not that it's just about cities, either - it can be harder to campaign out in the suburbs - but car dependence really hits hardest in places like Surrey. And nor should we dismiss those poor disdained fit young males - because even fast cyclists understand the pleasure of slow cycling sometimes, while a wheelie-popping sports star who doesn't just ride a bike but speaks out about it too can be invaluable.

Grand designs

Of course, to reap the benefits of cycling - and walking - investment you've got to do it well. Bike lanes have come a long way in the US - starting in 1894 - but campaigners still need to keep banging the drum for the great stuff, that allows conversational cycling even with your more distant mates, redesigning wide roads into something that justifies the name 'Grand Avenue' - perhaps with the help of imported Dutch engineers. You need to be bold in creating a car-free centre - and don't forget the little details like seating that encourage walking as well as cycling. And as US road engineers at least are beginning to learn how to design high quality but low speed roads, takes a look at the complexity of assessing the impact on traffic speeds (answer: it's complicated - but look at the trade offs).

And not-so-grand designs

Removing space from traffic might be contentious, but examples from Glasgow, Sheffield, Cambridge, and Dublin show what a bodge you get if you try and shoe-horn cycling in without it. Sadly, even when bikes are given decent amounts of space councils just can't help adding bollardry or simply confusing everyone - although not as much as they are in Portland (it looks fine, until you remember in America they drive on the right). Toronto's protected bike lanes are still a bit confusing and disconnected, while there's much more that could have been done in North Cambridge. In a rainy city, you'd think they'd provide some covered bike parking if nothing else - but even finding any parking at all would be a boon outside Manchester's revamped library.

Campaigning news

Here in the UK, the blogs continue to be dominated by London's Cycle Superhighway plans - your last chance to support them has now passed but it seems that pretty much everyone is on board with this chance to transform London, from Wheels for Wellbeing to Scotland Yard, with the exception of the City of London, Westminster and apparently the Guardian. Not that everyone is enamoured with the exact details of the plans - Charlie Holland responds on the North South route as does the Cycling Embassy, which also commented on the East West route. Elsewhere in London, consultation starts on cutting through traffic in Enfield's streets, and Lewisham cyclists respond to the Quietway plans while 'improvements' to Deptford Bridge don't really amount to much. Hackney is going to have to make some hard choices if it wants to keep cycling growing in the borough, while Richmond Cycling campaign finds that for once complaining to the council works. Cambridge Cyclist joins Cambridge Cycling Campaign in support for Space for Cycling while Cottenham cyclists investigates a potential route to the Cambridge research park - welcome to a world that requires endless persistence but may just end in a beautiful baby bike lane being born - while, across the country Portsmouth Cycle Forum challenge the city to reach even Cambridge's levels of cycling. And over in Portland Rebel Metropolis defends a rather more anarchic approach to changing not just cycling but the world (it certainly sounds as if it involves less sitting around in meetings).

Bike the Vote

With a UK general election looming, the American elections show a mixed picture for attempts to 'bike the vote' - the cycling lobby may possibly have seen off two Oregon politicians but didn't seem to have helped in Los Angeles or Wisconsin although Pennsylvania's new governor sounds promising. Pro-cycling ballot initiatives had a mixed election although things went well in San Francisco - it might help if voter ID laws didn't make it difficult for those without drivers' licences to vote. With Sustainable Witney wondering where the leaders are that will look out for the next generation, Cycalogical wonders if the answer is more power for the mayor, at least in London. For those pondering their future votes, the SNP will be debating presumed liability at their conference, while no date has been set for a sentencing review on dangerous driving in Westminster, and the Lords may be attempting to amend the infrastructure bill to include cycling and walking but we can't vote them in or out anyway. Fortunately the all-powerful cycling lobby continues its reign of terror in Newcastle, while in Galway it seems it's the parking lobby that has the whip hand over cycling and bike share.

Crossing continents

That might be a bit short sighted of Galway's politicians, as bike tourism is on the rise (at least in the US) and bike share schemes are a growing part of that. If you do want to attract the bike tourist it helps if your bike path doesn't close at night - although for the ultimate traffic-free bike-cation, have you considered Chernobyl? Meanwhile, inspiration strikes in all sorts of unlikely places - whether it's Dutch inspired bike tours taking Cairo by storm (with the hipster fixie not far behind), Singapore waking up to the potential of cycling, Sydney learning from Japan about pavement cycling, or the Governor of Tokyo taking inspiration from entirely the wrong place when planning the city's Olympic cycling legacy. Closer to home, it looks like Italy's EuroVelo route is nearing completion - while it turns out that the Dutch don't just build good cycle paths for city bikes, they cater for the real off roader as well (and the first person to say 'but the Dutch don't have hills!' wins the zombie argument of the month award).

Safety and mutual respect

It would be lovely to do a whole roundup without having to mention road rage and carnage, and it doesn't help when it's the police doing the name calling, but sometimes, just sometimes the road ragers pick the wrong cyclists or the wrong moment. Sometimes the difference between terrorism and just one of those things is merely a matter of context. Looking at the actual data - and what we measure is important - cycling casualties are climbing overall but on some roads slower speeds and improved junctions have led to significant drops in cycling and pedestrian casualties. In this week of remembrance, traffic victims are not forgotten in London or in Canada. And while we press for safer roads - perhaps the answer is removing hte nut behind the wheel - after all Google's autonomous car designer is a cyclist herself but will we need to be predictable ourselves as a whole new level of victim blaming raises its head: perhaps there's one hand signal they'll have to get the hang of.

Random goodness

Sometimes its hard to roll up the wilder reaches of the blogosphere into tidy themed paragraphs, and this week especially, so rather than not link to some brilliant posts that are worth a smile we bring you: a use for a cycling royal, a fab new men's cycling range, New Yorkers enjoying their car-free streets before the marathon, bringing bike-borne supplies to survivors of Typhoon Haiyan, and injured servicemen supported through bikes after World War One. And finally, for the culinarily inclined: what to do with that rabbit you accidentally ran over ... at least it will give you something to do while you're waiting for the lights to change