The Great Big is the Election Over yet? Bike Blog Roundup

With the election campaign rumbling on, bikes do seem to be getting onto the agenda with 22% of parliamentary candidates signing up to Vote Bike. It's still a little patchy, with Labour managing to commit to more spending on cycling in its manifesto without mentioning bikes at all in its green plan. UKIP continue to cover themselves in glory by suggesting scrapping of extended HGV training - after all, they are the best drivers on the roads, apparently (even if their bosses regularly break the rules). Candidates in the New Forest are surprisingly supportive of cycling - even the UKIP one - and the North Devon candidates offer plenty of warm words, while a couple of no-shows mean there wasn't much debate at the Bristol cycle hustings. And if you're wondering why it's important - political leadership is one of five key ingredients for a great biking city - and choosing your representative carefully might just head off daft ideas like this at the pass...

Taking to the streets

With no mention of cycling in the SNP manifesto (in fairness, it's a devolved matter) , but faced with thousands of voters on bikes, the Scottish Transport minister did pledge record spending on cycling at Pedal on Parliament; Spokes follows up with the details. For others it was an amusing day out, an opportunity to ride the 50 miles back to Glasgow in some unexpected sunshine, and for Dave Brennan, a chance to learn just how quickly an angle grinder gets through a bike lock (no bikes were stolen in the process fortunately!). In the Aberdeen POP, riders had to do battle with the traffic (and an awkward chicane) while the Newcastle Civic Ride was cancelled without the support of the police, on safety grounds. Back in London Stop Killing Cyclists are building momentum with their die-ins after Westminster is criticised for its shocking road casualty figures, while one Ramsbottom campaigner takes an 'artistic' approach to drawing attention to potholes in the road.

Put not your faith in paint

Decorated potholes aside, paint isn't the greatest cycling safety measure in any of its forms - as Minneapolis seems to understand, preferring to build protected bike lanes rather than painted ones. Elsewhere, door-zone bike lanes make cycling in New York uncomfortable - and in the original Haarlem, again it was the painted bike lanes that were the only infrastructure that felt uncomfortable to cycle on - after all you wouldn't rely on a bit of paint to protect you from a herd of elephants. Nor is the sort of paint you spray on your bike the answer - in fact such techno trinkets just distract from the real safety issues, although I quite like Bikeyface's version (and an app to turn the crossing lights green as you approach would be quite nifty too). Sadly, after more than 10 years, we're still having to paint ghost bikes to mark deaths on the road.

Dangerous by design

Of course, even a segregated track can be dangerous if it's poorly designed, as one tragic incident in Richmond has shown with no lessons being learned from what could have been a preventable death. A missing link in a protected network almost claims another cyclist's life in Seattle, just as the city starts work on completing the route. Transport Providence considers the details of adding a parking protected bike lane to the aptly named Hope street. Southwark cyclists will be keeping an eye on roadworks for TfL, while in New Zealand one campaigner keeps a close eye on those little details that can make the difference between a safe cycle track and an awkward one (like maybe not switching back and forth between one way and two way all the time). In California, a summit is planned to hash out the details (do you think they got the idea from us?) while even Dutch infrastructure struggles with 45 km/h speed pedelecs. Either way, perhaps starting work on a cycle route with a blessing ceremony might be a useful way of hedging your bets...

Vision Zero

Meanwhile, safer streets for everyone should be a top priority - the San Francisco bike coalition looks at how you turn a bold idea into a reality while New York's Vision Zero report leaves some key questions unanswered. In Toronto, they're making the link between safer streets and public health while campaigners want to see Chicago's safe routes to school programme overhauled. In Portland, the city has released its traffic casualty maps for all modes of travel, while in New York a road diet has cut pedestrian injuries by 61% - unsurprisingly, drivers are generally more likely to yield to them on slower streets. Some things won't help road safety much, though, like requiring wheelchair occupants to wear a helmet just because it's being pushed by pedal power - and nor will self-driving cars be the boon to pedestrians and cyclists some people imagine. I'm not sure this decision is going to be 100% beneficial to road safety either...

Only connect (or not)

With some hard evidence that it's the density and coherence of bike networks that matters most for boosting ridership, Next City asks why does it seem so hard to build a coherent network - after all the evidence is all there? And yet, we still allow a big new development to be built with no way to travel into the town centre except by car, while works on the Bristol Bath railway path show up just how bad all the alternatives are, with the lack of other routes forcing bikes and pedestrians into continuing conflict. Lisbon's example shows how good wayfinding and protected lanes can make even a very hilly city largely accessible to bikes, whereas by contrast golfcarts get more space than bikes and pedestrians in the Bronx (and who knew they even played golf much in the Bronx?) while at least those crossing the Golden Gate Bridge on foot or by bike may not face tolls, if a bill prohibiting it goes through.

Going multimodal

Still, at least when the bike lanes run out you can try sticking it on a tram in Edinburgh, for this month at least, although Sheffield is still holding firm against bikes on its trams. An impending bus strike means Dublin's cyclists will get the bus lanes to themselves, at least for now - a good thing too, as bus lanes are hardly bike infrastructure when there are buses in them. In Australia, secure parking for bikes isn't enough on its own to encourage people to cycle more to train stations, although there are encouraging signs in LA. And speaking of parking, West Sussex Council can't even get that right - while Canadian cyclists don't particularly like being 'corralled' away from where they're actually going either.

Open Streets

Perhaps the simplest intervention of all is just to close streets to cars (and open them to everyon else) as London is to get an Open Streets event and Bristol enjoys its most recent closure, despite the best efforts of an over-zealous police officer beforehand. New York waits to hear if it will enjoy traffic-free parks this summer while Amsterdam is to trial car-free Saturdays. Capetonians hope that theirs will become a regular event and Tuscon's features a skeletal cycling cow...

Bikes vs ... everyone

Meanwhile, the antis continue to make life on the roads unpleasantly aggressive - perhaps unsurprisingly as more bikes without infrastructure are a recipe for bikelash (if only the impatient drivers realised that driving the cyclists off the road really would result in gridlock). But then again, the long awaited Bikes vs Cars movie will be less confrontational than its title suggests and it turns out that whoever's being anti-social in Cambridge it's not the cyclists, at least as far as police reports go. Magnatom discovers what happens when the driver's lawyer is better than the prosecution's lawyer, while the police in both London and California discover that victim-blaming on twitter or in a press release will win them no friends; tweeting your hit and runs doesn't do your career much good either.

Carrying cargo

Stand by for some serious bike envy as the international cargo bike Festival comes to its natural home, the Netherlands, and starts with a cargo-bike parade. Meanwhile, Vancouver is to host its first cargo-bike championships while a solar-powered electric cargo bike is attracting a lot of attention in Auckland - the best possible way to get your kid to the ball game, even up a stiff climb.

Crossing borders

As ever, there were plenty of cross-border posts too, from the bemused Dutch reaction to Manchester's reaction to a cycling footballer - to Bristol and Christchurch compared. Bogota still has some challenges for mobility and some lessons for elsewhere, while San Francisco is rapidly catching up on Chicago.

Cycling for everyone

What does it take to create streets where everyone feels safe and protected? Not turning your bike safety crackdown into a campaign of police harassment would be a good start. In California, the Bike coalition wants to develop its grass roots to be more representative of the state's population while People for Bikes considers four ways to attract newcomers to cycling. In Philadelphia the new bike share scheme has had funding to enable it to reach the poorest areas while Chicago is rolling out more bike stations to reach a wider segment of the population. For those with disabilities, it can take time to find the right bike (actually that's probably true for everyone) while even those who didn't learn to ride as a child can still take it up, but need safe spaces to practise (actually that's true for everyone too...) Kidical mass encourages family cycling in Virginia - while in Edinburgh, 150 primary school kids get the Edinburgh Festival of Cycling launch off to a good start - an inspiring start (but would they pass the Danish 6th Grade cycling test?) Cycling without Age comes to North America with a Portland event kicking off, among other places - while Lady Fleur tackles that important question, how to cycle like a laydee...

Only on a bike

There were some happier stories this week too, like this father-daugher conversation you could only have on a bike - and this romantic brief encounter. Perhaps, after a while, bike and rider begin to grow alike - although it turns out we can't eat all the cake after all (and if you want to have all the coffee you'll have competition). Cyclists can also help with science too - no wonder bikes are for superheroes...

And finally

Lest you should doubt, that police car parked on the bike lane is on important police business. Honest ...