The Great Big Mardi Gras Bike Blog Roundup

It's been a holiday sort of week this week, with carnival season in the Netherlands demonstrating how the Dutch dress for the destination, not for the journey - followed by Lent, prompting the Bishop of Ramsbury to give up driving and discover just how far cars have become embedded even into the life of the church. In the United States, Presidents Day reminded the Atlantic how historically it used to kick off the bike-buying season rather than the car buying season, and raising the question of which recent president has done most for cycling, other than the odd awkward photo opportunity. And with the Chinese New Year ushering in the Year of the Sheep, how about a rugged bike for the Navajo shepherd in your life?

Guerilla action

And what better time than carnival for a little direct action, from a cheering flash mob to a self-dug snow tunnel (and UK cyclists thought they had it bad when it came to winter cycle lane maintenance...). In Dumfries, the year of the sheep was ushered in appropriately enough with a yarn bombing targeting some poorly visible bollards - perhaps the mysterious Bollard (and Chicane) Protection Authority should visit Swansea next. Cycling Dumfries was happy to see some direct action but the council were less impressed at what they deemed to be littering. Elsewhere, Transport Providence favours a slightly more robust approach towards barriers in the cycle path, while in Manchester it's the drivers who are taking out the bollards and in Glasgow it seems to be the council itself taking direct action, blocking a cycle lane rather than clearing out the mud.

Liveable cities

Not all bollards are bad, though - when they're closing roads to create 'villages' rather than rat runs they can inspire others to ask for road closures of their own - very important in terms of bringing communities together because after all when we 'idealise' Main Street it doesn't have any cars on it. The CAA considers what would make Auckland a liveable city (hint: it isn't more traffic), while the Knight Foundation dismantles all the myths and excuses why it can't be done outside continental Europe. After all, European cities can sprawl just as badly as Australian and American ones (and if you think you know which US cities sprawl the most you might need to think again). Seattle, meanwhile, has a parking problem: there's too much of it becuase it's parking not people that generates traffic. Fortunately, cities everywhere are fighting back with Seattle using road diets as a cheap way to make life better for everyone for the last 40 years. The ex-mayor of Minneapolis looks back on building a bike-friendly city with the help of a strong bike campaigning community while Edinburgh seeks to capture the bike tourist market although it's got a long way to go to rival either Amsterdam or Seville. Pop City explores the changing face of Pittsburgh transport while even in LA a road can be closed to cars (as long as it's for a red carpet) but how cool would it be if the Hollywood Boulevard Walk of Fame was closed off to cars altogether?

Vision Zero

Unfortunately, it wasn't all carnival this week, with another death in London underneath yet another tipper truck - even as the fiancees of two cyclists killed by a drink driver meet the Prime Minister to press for tougher sentences. For Buffalo Bill it will take more than just segregated lanes - or indeed a cyclists stay back sticker - to protect cyclists from HGVs - although some cycle-awareness training of drivers may help. In the wake of a New York tragedy The Invisible Visible Man is reminded how we all need to take responsibility for the danger we pose to others. The Metropolitian Police have responded to a recent spike in road deaths by targeting both drivers and cyclists whereas in Ireland, a senior police officer wants to ticket people for not wearing hi vis (and perhaps the Irish Road Safety board might want to look more closely at its own back yard). A somewhat more constructive response to road deaths in Ireland is Jake's Legacy campaign for 30 kmh limits - a matter too important to be left to local authorities - as perhaps illustrated by Southampton deciding against a wider rollout of its 20mph zone after speeds didn't fall much. Hopefully Edinburgh will be less likely to be swayed by a demo of 39 men and a dog protesting for more dangerous roads.

They don't come much more dangerous than Thailand where a round-the-world cyclist is killed in front of his family. Elsewhere, though, Vision Zero approaches are beginning to put traffic deaths at the top of the agenda with better pedestrian crossings and an expanded bike network planned for Brooklyn where people are beginning to realise that the occasional death in traffic is not just the price to pay for keeping a city moving. In San Francisco, the Bike Coalition looks at how Vision Zero is shaping up one year on, while the Seattle Bike Blog considers whether Seattle can get to zero by 2030. No such focus in Toronto, sadly, where even though three-quarters of all drivers support it the city is considering dropping pedestrian priority at a crossing.

Tech will save us

But perhaps technology will deliver road safety instead - with Ealing Council to roll out Cycle Shield technology to all its large vehicles after a successful trial, while yet another app promises to alert drivers (with the app) to the presence of cyclists (with the app). Or should we be banking on the impact (metaphorically, not literally) of driverless cars - although it's not the highway code but the highway design that will form the biggest barrier to their widespread use. Either way, simply printing out a new bike after your old one gets mangled under a lorry may still be a long way off.

New routes and missing links

Meanwhile plans continue to develop the bike network, such as it is, with Portsmouth council consulging on new cycleways and a Bolton to Bury bike route planned although actual details are thin on the ground. The Garden bridge plans are subject to a legal challenge albeit mainly on taste grounds rather than the fact that it won't provide the missing traffic-free link across the Thames that it could - further east plans for the proposed Brunel Bridge that will do just that, gather momentum and the 'central grid' in Southwark is beginning to take shape. Elsewhere though, with consultation opening on the 'A10 bypases route' - a particular collision hotspot for cyclists - reaction to the plans is fairly mixed. As Easy as Riding a Bike points out that while back street routes can be excellent this isn't one of them while elsewhere the Waterloo to Greenwich Quietway doesn't seem to pass the 'done properly or not at all test that Gilligan set himself. Further north, the Fountainbridge development offers an opportunity for a direct and pleasant route to Haymarket station but if it takes five years to sort out a dropped curb, perhaps Edinburgh cyclists shouldn't hold their breath, while in Manchester a temporary replacement bridge looks great but appears to have no legal way to actually approach it on a bike.

Further afield, work is due to start on the 'missing link' Dublin Bay cycle path, while Oregon starts to consider how best to prioritise walking and cycling projects and Brooklyn residents say where they'd like to see bike lanes in their neighbourhood. Toronto could even be getting its own glow-in-the-dark bike path but cyclists might have to wait as the city doesn't even have the capacity to complete its feasibility studies into bike lanes, let along build the things. Elsewhere in the US, it seems that the only missing links that matter are for motor vehicles, with farm vehicles to be allowed to use rail trails (for a fee), and road building continuingto accelerate even as actual driving flatlines.

Going multimodal

The saga of Edinburgh's bus lanes continues, with Dave McCraw struggling to see the logic of watering them down, while Spokes collates some of the objections so far. Dead Dog Blog finally sees the point of defending them, but would still like proper bike infrastructure as well. When it comes to bikes on trains, it seems we're going backwards, not forwards, which might not matter so much if the parking at even the busiest stations for bikes wasn't so terrible, although there are encouraging plans for Derby station. Ranty Highwayman samples the Manchester trams and other not at all geeky transport related things in Manchester, while it seems that America suffers the vurse of the 'rail replacement bus service' too. And as winter grinds on, one cyclist remembers how it was a bus strike that got her riding through the brutal Minnesota winters.

Campaigning for change

We're biased, of course, but it's always nice to see how blogging can make a difference, with LA Streetsblog looking back at seven years and seven dumb ideas that they might have helped stop happen, while Carsick Glasgow only has a year under its belt so far. Video blogging can be powerful too, with a Delaware student making the case for a separated cycle track and a Seattle business owner protesting an impossibly narrow shared-use path across an otherwise hostile bridge. Elsewhere, campaigners who felt their city needed a bike strategy just wrote them one - while others have taken the approach even further, crowdfunding bike tracks not just to raise money but to build a supportive community. Meanwhile the Youth Bike Summit is building the next generation of campaigners - while bike action doesn't have to be just about bikes, with the Selma to Montgomery bike ride commemorating the Selma civil rights march 50 years on.


As ever, the financial side of cycling remains important, with even NICE weighing in to tell local authorities to do more to enable active travel - a shame then that Yorkshire's latest funding announcement covers just 0.5% of what is needed, and Scotland's active travel budget remains as clear as mud. They're missing a trick, as Christchurch has shown by modelling the economics of its planned cycleways - while Dublin has discovered that it's not the car that brings prosperity to its city centre shops (someone tell Cambridge's Daily Bread). But bikes can help at the bottom of the economic heap as well, with bike loan schemes for people in Southwark, and a California cyclist who adds a little charity to a regular early morning bike ride.

Legal news

California's proposed helmet law continues to attract opposition even from lawyers, while Hawaii is proposing excluding cycling and moped riders from no-fault insurance payouts. On this side of the pond, the hot legal topics were what penalties a cyclist faces if they hit a pedestrian - and whether councils are liable if their unmaintained cycle paths damage your bike. Meanwhile, justice may finally be served on the scofflaw parkers of Leith Walk.


Fired up by the latest campaigners' day, Phil Jones wants to know what's stopping people from riding their bikes - but perhaps the more interesting question is what keeps people going, with either cycling or campaigning. Far from Glasgow, Bike Gob discovers cycling utopia in Copenhagen, while Lee County in Florida learns to no great surprise that it's got a long way to go. In a time of screens and convenience, cyclign can reconnect you to the world while for others hearing about the sheer determination of the Afghan Women's Cycling team can bring hope even to a wet Wednesday in the UK. Mountain triking can bring back confidence and the great outdoors to people who thought they'd lost it altogether - while a 'pump-track' geometry cycle track might actually be more efficient than a boring old flat one. Mexico City's fifth year anniversary of its bike hire scheme wakens some happy memories for I Speak Bike. But 'inspiration' can only go so far: if your plans won't deliver 8-80 cycling, then don't bike wash them with a spot of cycle chic on the cover.

And finally...

With half term behind us, Bicycle Tucson comes clean and reveals the ugly truth behind all those pictures of impossibly cute kids in cargo bikes - while a Portland primary school has a better use for all that surplus kid energy than pulling your sibling's hair. And one Scottish kid has put the half term to good use with a letter to Pedal on Parliament that's full of good sense. We definitely approve and suggest young Alexander starts a blog...