The Great Big Seeing the Light Bike Blog Roundup

With the clocks 'springing forward' - at least in the UK (other time zones and hemispheres are available) - there seemed to be quite a few blogs about 'seeing the light' in one way or another; those aha moments that reframe the way you see the world, whether it's an open street event that changes people's relationship with the city, or a threatened highway project that changed a whole nation's relationship with the bicycle. In Portland, a New York campaigner says we should talk less about livable streets and more about death if we want to build a wider coalition. Turning things around, Transport Providence suggests that instead of building a cycling and pedestrian bridge, why not get rid of the cars on the bridge that's already there. A Canadian teacher told that encouraging kids to bike to school would be a legal liablity tries actually asking what the position is and discovers that there's no problem. And somewhat more abstratctly, taking part in an experiment leaves Darkerside realisng how much ceaseless vigilance he has internalised cycling in Glasgow - while the Invisible Visible man wonders if he's really loving cycling in New York or has just succumbed to some form of Stockholm syndrome.


Infrastructure news

If that's all a bit too abstract, there was plenty for the 'kerb nerds' too this week. Bicycle Dutch looked at how the Dutch tailor their infrastructure to the streets concerned, making context important (and here's a Canadian view of some of the same streets). Rachel Aldred considered the sort of tailoring we'd need to do in the UK to provide welcoming cycling for all ages - while other research looks at how cyclists in London use the infrastructure we already have. As Easy as Riding a Bike considers conflicting greens and whether we could legally have simultaneous green junctions for bikes while Bike Toronto looks at what a Dutch-style protected junction would look like in Canada. Seattle Bike Blog considers international experience and what would make tram tracks safe for cyclists while considers what would make a street that's a bit too pleasant for driving on better for all road users. Consultations continued apace (and perhaps we really are the all-powerful bike lobby because it seems that it's mainly cyclists responding to a lot of the London consultations) with Hackney Cyclist going through plans for CS1 in detail and Amblescope arguing that the Royal Parks ought to be havens for pedestrians and cyclists not rat runs for speeding minicabs. Portland got its fair share too - looking at ways to turn a quiet street into a neighbourhood greenway while the city tries a bit more green paint to make a complex junction slightly less daunting.

Other approaches

Sometimes, of course, proposals are just plain wrong - like spending your cycling cash making videos warning drivers about the dangers of a roundabout (oh and putting up some fancy flashing lights) instead of fixing it properly. Some seem superficially attractive, like paying people to cycle to work, but Citylabs considers why that didn't work well for the French while Lovely Bike considers why such approaches are psychologically flawed. Croydon are trialling alert systems for their bin lorries but it raises the question of what happens if the cyclist isn't tagged - or indeed covered with glow in the dark paint. And as Transport for London drop their mode share targets for cycling, US state departments of transport still seem convinced that driving will continue to rise even in the face of all evidence. And then there are the daft laws - cheaper than fixing the real problems - although at least one politician has seen sense while a Japanese prefecture makes insurance compulsory for cyclists but provides no penalty if you don't have it. The helmet question has proved a hardy perennial in Ireland (as elsewhere) - Bike Snob NYC weighs in on why they just make things the cyclist's problem - perhaps this headgear is what you should be sporting, at least during winter cycling.

Campaigning news

Campaigners themselves were in the spotlight as well this week with Bike Gob channelling Just Seventeen and interviewing Pedal on Parliament founder Magnatom while, somewhat more seriously, two women consider their journey from cyclist to campaigner: basically, if you want a quiet life, don't buy a snazzy bike with a basket or visit Portland. The World Bicycle Forum had nine lessons for campaigners everywhere, while teenagers in Queens wanted a protected bike way so they went ahead and designed one. Helen Blackman explains how pledging to follow the Highway Code will do nothing to prevent drivers bullying cyclists - perhaps you should just tart up a pothole instead.

Mind the gap

With the gender gap in the UK persisting even in Cambridge, a new conference aims to look at the issues - hopefully it can avoid the perils of being either patronising or negative that so often things aimed at women fall into. We should also remember that cycling doesn't have to be an all-or-nothing thing - and in some parts of the world it is a deeply subversive act for a woman to ride a bike, althou at least the issue of how to carry your handgun has at least been solved. Nor is diversity just about gender; the Bike League looks at how to make cycle campaigning less white and middle class so that bike infrastructure could be used to connect communities not divide them, building equitable streets, something that matters for everyone.

Don't mention the election

We've got this far without mentioning the election but all good things must come to an end, with Labour's shadow transport minister writing in Bike Bix on the party's plans for cycling while Chris Boardman is less than flattering about the current incumbent's record in the job. The CTC considers whether the government rushing out five reports on cycling just as parliament dissolves is a good thing or not. Vision Zero welcomes the manifesto for road justice at Westminster while in Scotland, the minister is urged to consider strict liability. Rushed out before 'purdah' begins, along with news on more longer distance routes for Scotland, Pedal on Parliament welcomes an announcement on (possible) new money but would like to see longer-term cash commitments (something that might help with the potholes too) not just what's been found down the back of the sofa.

All politics is local

Meanwhile, local government continue on their merry way with one local councillor seemingly wanting to know if enough cyclists are getting crushed to justify audible turning alerts on HGVs, while Ely Cycling campaign responds to another misguided councillor - perhaps they are in fact both 'concillors' - while BikeGob is just excited to get a response from Glasgow's cycling tsar. Elsewhere, Kuala Lumpur's mayor offers bike lanes in return for Earth Hour observance (you can imagine some UK businesses running around turning all the lights on) while People for Bikes explains why it matters that the US government is running out of money for roads.

Steps forward

Still, all was not completely bad news: there was some modest progress made too, with Richmond campaigners seeing better relations with the council resulting in small wins like a wheeling ramp - and some possible bigger things like improvements to the A316. In Bristol, 20mph zones haven't brought about disaster even for drivers while expansion of lower limits is welcomed in Newcastle although there is more to do. Small steps shouldn't always be despised: a scheme to allow cyclists to use a Croydon park may not do much for commuting cyclists but it will give kids somewhere to cycle - and kids do need the space sometimes to just muck about. Similarly, an electric bike hire scheme might help develop cycling in the Chilterns, while Quietway 2 continues to be rolled out, thinning a forest of bollards in Southwark. Elsewhere, Santa Cruz gets a complete streets masterplan for the streets around its schools, while Auckland starts to get some joined up cycling infrastructure as a gap in the network is filled.

Changing places

As always, travellers tales, real or virtual can illuminate cycling in other places, even for the inhabitants of those places themselves, although when visiting the Netherlands, it does help if you remember to stop and take pictures (even if it's the only reason you ever need to stop) - the Bristol Cycling Campaign will be doing it properly, with a study tour. Cargobike Dad is pleased another cyclist may be joining him on Northern Ireland's roads, although tellingly he still suggests he takes the train - whereas if you're used to cycling in the UK, it turns out Dublin's cycling infrastructure is pretty good, even with kids in tow. When you've come from Auckland, Melbourne's cycling infrastructure makes the bike the obvious choice for transport - although some of the locals aren't so impressed. is blown away by Transport for London's best practice guide for cycling cities (yes, that Transport for London), while Streetfilms discovers that Stockholm is more than just about Sweden's Vision Zero and even the Danes say they would cycle more if they had better bike paths. A 'big box store' kind of city in the US proves surprisingly friendly to cycling if you stick to the quieter streets. And did spending some formative years in Cambridge encourage Lee Kuan Yew to resist the lure of the car when shaping Singapore's future?

Businesses and cycling

If so, he was a wise man: the latest analysis of 37 'complete streets projects in the US found that they were beneficial all round. He was also unusual - certainly in San Diego, local planners opt to delay plans for safer streets rather than lose parking, although in New York, after a similar debate, protected bike lanes go in despite parking losses. Parking vs bike lanes seems to be a universal battle, indeed, with Cycle Action Auckland arguing it's time for businesses to love cyclists as much as cyclists love local business - better biking means more customers after all. Getting Around Sac reminds us that we're all paying for 'free parking' - as well as for sprawl. And some have got on board, with one Californian business shelling out to get rid of the parking outside their front door and another upgrading their bike parking (complete with singing cowboy) without even needing to be asked. Here in the UK, one bike shop wishes it wasn't getting so many punctured customers through the door, despite the profits, while Grist looks at what makes bike co-ops thrive.

Meanwhile back in the real world

Exciting as all the new infrastructure may be, most of us still have to ride in traffic, and the reports from the Near Miss project show just how grim that can be. The police are still seeking a hit and run driver after a 15-year-old cyclist was killed in the West Midlands, while another cyclist was fortunately unhurt despite the best efforts of a road-raging driver. Suddenly driverless cars seem a much better idea although not if injured people have to end up suing the manufacturers - maybe better if they put the airbags on the outside. Elsewhere the CTC seeks volunteers to attend court cases to provide the sort of detailed reporting we don't otherwise get - death by car just isn't exciting enough - and help explain why prosecutions fail.

And finally

I was going to show you Jeremy Clarkson on a bike - but he's had enough oxygen of publicity recently. So instead meet Stephen and Evangeline - two teenagers very far apart who can continue their education, thanks to the bicycle. That should brighten up your week.