The Great Big Late-Late-Running Bike Blog Roundup

Apologies for the late arrival of this blog roundup, which was due to my discovery that Center Parcs may be a largely traffic-free cycling paradise (adjusted for being in the UK) but also doesn't have WiFi in the cabins. So, without further ado...

Meanwhile in That London

London may not be a traffic-free paradise (yet) but an actual cycle superhighway that is almost worthy of the name is beginning to take shape on the Embankment - while, rubbish as they were, the earlier incarnations might at least have served to pave the way for what is arriving now. Looking further back, the Vole considers 20 years of (literally) taking the lane - and keeping it. Sadly, even at this late hour the Taxi Drivers' association have launched a last ditch legal action - a move described as smacking of desperation - despite dropping earlier plans for a juditial review because they didn't want blood on their hands. Meanwhile, a junction on the CS2 gives bikes a head start over turning cars but only serves to emphasise how bad the surrounding streets are, while if we ever do get a bicycling monarchy they should eventually be able to cycle from right outside their door. Further out, Sutton cycling strategy is up for consultation while plans are afoot for the Hammersmith gyratory, but will they be properly shared before everything is set in stone?

Lest we get too excited...

Even as London's latest bit of infrastructure takes shape, one of its better older routes is closed for roadworks leaving cyclists with nowhere to go (and yet they're keeping the road open for the cars, naturally, and things were no better in Birmingham either where NCN 5 is closed. In Manchester, where a giant hole has opened up and threatens to bring the city to a halt this should be the perfect opportunity for cycling - but given the state of the roads, the city and the drivers Helen Pidd isn't so sure - perhaps it would help if they didn't consult over their city centre infrastructure plan at a time when most cycling commuters would actually be at work.

Will nobody think of the unexploded bombs?

It was the battle of the petitions this week as various projects moved along the emotional affective trajectory of a cycling infrastructure project towards a hardening of opposition - sometimes based on the most ludicrous of excuses - hence the need for a petition to support a new route to New Malden. In Bristol, rival petitions battle it out over 20mph limits with the antis claiming that lower speed limits only make the streets more dangerous - they're probably kicking themselves they didn't think to raise the spectre of unexploded WWII bombs. In Wales, the petition is to keep a key bridge open in the face of budget cuts - and we're not alone, similar unfounded fears are threatening to derail a complete streets project in Sydney that's already been widely consulted on and agreed. And if you've ever wondered how the Dutch make sure that cyclists are considered during major infrastructure projects they've got the Cyclists' Union to thank for their (rather familiar looking) advocacy work - the difference being in the Netherlands that officials actually listen... although in fairness, representations by campaigners in Canada have changed plans from a door zone bike lane to a parking protected one while TfL have made some improvements to their plans for Lewisham although not really enough.

Politics as usual

Interestingly, in London, yet another mayoral candidate comes out with a strong pro-bike message, suggesting cycling is now inching into the mainstream in London anyway (maybe not so much in New York). Elsewhere an exchange of letters between the Scottish Transport Minister and Pedal on Parliament suggests there's a way to go before that happens in Scotland - although at least the new leader of the Scottish Labour Party is a serial attender at POP and hopefully will bring that commitment into her policies. For those who'd like to stiffen the sinews of their own politicians the annual CTC and Cycle Nation campaigners' conference might be a good place to start.

Before and after shots

There's nothing like a little before-and-after show to clarify matters of design - and this week we had two: these neat little animations of road diets at work, and a database of street transformations from around the world. You can also use the speed of traffic to help determine whether somewhere needs a re-design - whether that be a complete street or something more human-scaled. Even in the Netherlands, poorly designed junctions continue to cause conflict between bikes and cars - although subtle design cues can make sharing work better between bikes and pedestrians. Some places still put their faith on paint in the road to slow cars down while excessive paint on the road demonstrates (yet again) why bikelanes and bus lanes don't mix. Then again, you could just make absolutely no provision for bikes (and barely any for pedestrians) even when starting from a blank slate.

A numbers' game

After a few years of what looked like peak car, traffic figures have rebounded somewhat in the US although a more detailed look at the data suggests its still flat on a per capita basis - even so as cycling plateaus out in Portland congestion start rising again. Here in the UK a similar rebound in driving figures shows how closely prosperity and driving are still linked in policy makers' minds even as the National Cycling Network is calculated to boost the UK economy by £650m a year - and as nicely done bits of infrastructure can attract more than 10 times the original projected numbers once they're open. Elsewhere, Sam Saunders considered what figures for hospital admissions said about road safety in Bristol while the figures for the US show that once you take the men out of the picture, cycling is safer than walking and almost as safe as driving. Transportation Planning wondered if cycling and walking figures were generally being under-counted and the Urbanist looked at changing commuting patterns in Australia since 1951 - while Pricetags is disappointed to discover that Vancouver's millionth cyclist sneaked past anonymously before they could catch them...

Cycling cities

We've all heard about cycling in Amsterdam and Copenhagen - but what of cycling's third city, Bremen? Kats Dekker looks at five factors that build its success while also in Germany Freiberg has many lessons for a city like Christchurch. In Belgium, Bruges stands out as a hotspot - like many such this is as much due to restricting traffic as elaborate cycling infrastructure - something Galway could learn from although if it is going to model itself on Cambridge it shouldn't include junctions like these. While they may not be as sexy as a cycle track the humble bollard does as much to create cycling routes (the hot Scandinavian cyclists are optional) something Raise the Hammer understands quite well. Other lessons can be learned from the Dutch too, including negatives ones - like the perils of mopeds while Dublin is investigating rolling out contraflow cycle streets across the city - and, who knows, we could all be visiting Kampala to admire its cycling infrastructure next. Sometimes, it's the little things that make a city 'livable' - like bike racks that suggest that bikes are gaining acceptance - or simply somewhere nice to sit.

Cycling while different

While for immigrants in Amsterdam cycling can be a force for integration, in the US, some groups feel harrassed and excluded while cycling (although in Glasgow, wheelchair users don't even have to get on a bike to feel they've not been made welcome) - it may explain why Seattle's subsidised bike share memberships have had a low initial takeup. Bicycle Dutch catches up with the story of the Dutch schoolkids using e-bikes to get to school (would they get fewer points in Odense, we wonder) while at the other end of the age range The Listening Project catches up with a few pairs of cyclists, some still persisting well into old age.

Bloody cyclists

As ever, hostility between cyclists and drivers spilled out from the Internet onto the roads, with one attacked for having the temerity to stop for a pedestrian at a zebra crossing and another one impeding the 'run' part of a hit and run with their pesky bike as they lay unconscious in the road - but Cathy Bussey is still proud to be counted as one of the crew. At least Chris Boardman's film on overtaking cyclists has been widely viewed and positively received but if you do encounter a motorist who clearly hasn't watched it, a camera can provide some evidence although it's mostly just for fun for some.

Last of the summer tours

With the summer drawing to a close, there were still a few bike touring posts - from what it takes to build a town into a cycle touring destination - to what surely must be the ultimate bike for your railway-to-cycleway conversion, complete with what appear to be a pair of cupholders... and finally, we hope that 'Cyclist David' wasn't just passing through when he met Lynne, but will be back to find her note ...