The Great Big Every Day is Mother's Day Bike Blog Roundup

Sunday was Mothers' Day (in the UK, anyway), and what with that and International Women's Day last Sunday and the Women's National Bicycling Forum (with first impressions here and here from Grease Rag) in the US there was quite a feminine flavour to the week. Blooming Rock considers what it means to design safe cities for women (that would likely be more pleasant for the chaps too) - something that's long overdue Kats Dekker finds, although having a majority of women on bikes can be a sign of deep poverty, not empowerment. Urban Adonia wonders if bike advocacy in the US is ready to be open to more cycling perspectives - while if you think you're a minority as a female cyclist, try working in tech too.


For those mothers who wished to celebrate the occasion by riding with their kids, the CTC examines the legal position of four-year-olds riding on the pavement; Darkerside reckon's it's the police who need to brush up on the law, Stop Killing Cyclists took part in the Radio 4 debate, while Back on My Bike pointed out that even when they stay mostly on the pavement the design of our roads is still terrifying for the parent of a small child. And even when they're teenagers the roads can be dangerous and it seems other parents are the worst offenders. In the US, a family ride is planned to show that cycling with kids is safe - it's the road that's wrong, while Lizbon argues that it's not just five-year-olds that need - and deserve - the very best infrastructure


If you read - and bookmark - one thing this week, make it this cut-out-and-keep summary of 12 studies into the impact of bike lanes on businesses (short version: the world will not end if a few parking spaces disappear). Even the Economist agrees, accusing Eric Pickles of starting a war on common sense. Edinburgh seems to have got the memo, by finally tackling antisocial parking on Leith Walk, as does Rome which has revived a historic street by effectively banning cars. Tuscon considers adding bike parking to its parking meters (no word on whether the bikes will have to pay...) while Spokes is surveying supermarket bike parking in Edinburgh - and London ramps up its requirements for bike parking in new developments. Meanwhile, wouldn't it be cool if delivery companies started using bike lanes for cycling in rather than parking in as the freight industry catches up with the return of the bike (and if they need a cargo bike solid enough for ram-raiding then the Donky might be the one).

Nor is it just about shopping and deliveries - city breaks are increasingly including cycling - it's certainly the best way to see the sights of Barcelona - while the Adventure Cycling Association is promoting bike touring in the United States. Certainly Montana would like your tourism spending although Sausalito isn't so keen. You can take part in the boom yourself by signing up with Spinlister and Van Moof as part of their decentralised bike share system, but bike share has other economic benefits too, with New York's Citi Bike scheme providing a step into employment for some, while Milwaukee's is simplifying its pricing structure to make it more accessible and less confusing

Design matters

At the end of the day, of course, it's getting the design of the infrastructure right that really matters - and unfortunately it seems the dinosaurs are still in charge of the design manuals in the United States. In Britain, cycling was all but built out of Britain's roads in the sixties - whereas we need to eliminate the 'tragic consequences' of errors for all road users (not just protect drivers from killer trees) - such as 'dooring'.

Phil Ward emphasises the design side of Pedal on Parliament with what may be the only country and western song in existence about cycling infrastructure - complete with line dancing. Even a cowboy builder might recognise that it's not a good sign when your bike lane is so narrow you can't fit the bike stencil into it, and nor do paint and plastic posts make a cycle track (although UK cyclists might welcome even that much protection). There's not much point putting in cycling infrastructure that makes life worse for pedestrians - an issues that crops up in Ireland too - nor routes that seem to sadistically seek out the worst hills, or leave cyclists on their own at scary junctions or a major roundabout.

Sometimes the error is in the other direction - with an over-engineered Dutch bicycle roundabout which solves a non-existent problem - and perhaps this bridge with everything might be over-egging the pudding too. In Copenhagen, a bridge provides a handy link but might verge into 'squiggletechture' territory - but either way, when you're having a moan, don't forget that behind all these schemes are human beings who are probably making the best of a difficult job. And rather than run endless feasibility studies perhaps we should just get on with trialling stuff, even if it's at a closed-road event.

One step forward?

Meanwhile, there was the normal mixture of hope and disappointment, at least in the UK. In London, Waltham Forest are consulting on two more 'Mini Holland' schemes while the LCC considers whether the plans for the CS1 are a superhighway or a superquietway - the design reviews haven't done much to tackle the problems with the scheme, although at the other end of the A10 there are signs of possible progress. Elsewhere in London, though, it's still all aboutcramming more cars in but doing little to encourage more bikes. Chris Boardman welcomes Cambridge's cycling ambition although Cambridge Cyclist wonders if the schemes will be up to scratch and local residents object to cycle contraflow plans on the grounds that they'd rather see rat-running cut altogether. Nottingham is also planning an East-West 'superhighway', while rather less ambitiously, Lancaster gets a cycle contraflow. NewCycling finds that plans for John Dobson street have gone forward and backwards at the same time while Coventry seems determined to stamp out cycling AND walking with the bizarrest set of barriers we've seen in a while.

Across the Irish Sea, it's all go on the greenway front with the first details emerging of the Dublin to Galway route which is pricey but justified, while Dublin is actually getting one part of the Liffey cycle path earlier than expected even though other greenways are having to proceed as funding permits (imagine if they built motorways that way). Finally, across the Atlantic, it looks as if the Bronx's mean streets may get a little less mean, or at least one of them.


20's Plenty

One juggernaut we're happy to see increasing momentum is the slower speeds bandwagon - with Transport for London announcing plans for 20mph limits on major roads and 20mph to be rolled out across Tower Hamlets. Bike Gob would like you to sign the petition in Glasgow - and if the latest survey is anything to go by 56% of parents should be appending their signatures.

Politics as usual

The election campaign hasn't quite got into full swing yet, thankfully, but Labour is attempting to get the bike vote early, saying it will put cycling and walking at the top table of policy making (whether as guests or on the menu remains to be seen). Meanwhile, the Government's Deparment for Transport is giving the CTC £1m to get 50,000 bikes out of the nations' sheds - the Alternative DfT is unimpressed. Perhaps more pertinently, the CTC also launched a manifesto for justice for the victims of traffic violence. In Glasgow, the city's cycling czar finally responds to the issues raised in the Glasgow Cycling Infrastructure day - shame he's not quite so clued up as this West Yorkshire councillor

Number crunching

West Yorkshire was in the news for less cheerful reasons - having been found to be one of the most dangerous places in the UK to cycle despite - or perhaps because of - the Tour de France effect, a possible test case for the old chicken and egg question of safety in numbers, while a study on the impact of the London Congestion Charge shows that perhaps the real number to worry about is the number of cars on the road. Another, perhaps surprising, survey showed that ethnic minorities are both at the forefront and the sharp end of America's cycling revival, while the first survey of America's interested but concerned demographic was also illuminating. In Seattle, 'Hack the Commute' will be looking at innovative uses for the city's data - perhaps they might follow Chicago and find, yet again, that bikes can be the quickest way to get around a city. The Urbanist asks if Australia was ever a cycling nation (although even the Dutch, presumably, had to start somewhere...) while Bfistol Traffic reminds us how easy it is to find anything you want from a survey.

Reputation vs reality

Bike blogs are fond of finding the grass (or the cycle track) greener on the other side - so a few correctives this week, from The Bristol Cable asking if Bristol is a cycling city in name only to a call for London to get on with it and just start building a proper grid (perhaps by spending the money it has already pledged). And while Portland might seem a paradise from the perspective of northern New York, its mountain bikers are unhappy at being banned from a popular park.

The law is an ...

In legal news, a nice guest blog from Richmond reports on the thankless, but occasionally effective, task of attending all those police liaison committees - although the Richmond Community Safety Partnership still seems to get its crime priorities wrong. Calls to ban riding with headphones seem to forget it's the approaching vehicle, not what's in the cyclists' ears, that's the real problem - especially if the driver is looking at their watch. WiSoB decides that, on balance bus lanes are worth defending even if they don't do much for new cyclists. In Serbia, proposals for mandatory hi vis vests have at least managed to unite the cycling community - while the impact of Sweden's child helmet laws have been to cut child cycling without effectively cutting head injuries. In the US, the Prospect Park Bike lane lawsuit staggers on into its fifth year - while automatic speed cameras seem to strike Oregon lawmakers as a dangerous novelty. And, finally while on the whole we don't subscribe to the hang 'em and flog 'em school of punishment, here are some thieves we'd like to see them throw the book at

And finally...

Mothers' Day may be a fond memory, but St Patrick's day is coming up, so Dandyhorse would like to remind you all: don't pedal plastered... but a bike does make a good prop to help you stagger home.