The Great Big to Dangerise or not to Dangerise Bike Blog Roundup

When the annals of UK cycle campaigning come to be written, the great 'dangerisation' debate - whether or not pointing out that building roads that encourage lorries to turn left over cyclists is A Bad Thing, for instance - will hopefully be just one of those quirky historical footnotes, like the War of Jenkins Ear. Especially as we learned this week that warning people about the dangers of cycling has absolutely no effect on whether they cycle or not - but then again, neither does telling them about all the awesome health benefits (unless you're an Australian MAMIL, that is) - what really puts them off is the reality of actually cycling on the UK's streets.

Still, while our roads may not yet have got significantly less poorly designed, at least the lorries that ply London's streets will now be safer for cyclists as the mayor responds to calls for direct vision lorries - thanks to some tireless campaigning from the LCC - so now we just have to take the scheme nationwide - or else train the UK's cyclists in Indiana Jones style survival tricks.

Low hanging fruit?

Making lorries safer, welcome though it is, won't transform London's streets. For that we need to follow Kampala's example and tackle the hardest problems first - or New York's where if they can put a protected track on the 'Boulevard of Death they can put them anywhere. Other, easier, approaches don't necessarily have the same impact: Bikemapper considers just how far from being direct and convenient London's quietways will be - while Raise the Hammer points out that back alley routes have their own problems, not least because they already have their own uses. And when it comes to share the road signs, it's now official - sign really does not make it better...

Do it right or not at all


With yet more evidence that protected bike lanes are far more effective than paint at encouraging people to cycle, Galway Cycle campaign wonders if Ireland can't find a decent route for its Galway greenway then maybe it shouldn't build it at all - something Newcastle seems to have taken to heart. Bikeyface saves bloggers the effort of writing a thousand posts by encapsulating why the roads should be redesigned in one single post (complete with *that* clueless politician we've all seen out on 'bike to work' day rides) - it's not the same as wanting women-only trains. Elsewhere, as Chicago decides to keep its oldest protected cycle lanes (and it's a measure of how quickly things have moved in a short time that they were put in in 2011...) Vancouver is planning to build its first 'Danish-style' raised cycle track. Naturally the Dutch continue to show the way with another impressive piece of infrastructure (albeit bridging quite an 'impressive' width of motorway) although the Kiwis are doing something similar themselves. Here in the UK, it's the finishing touches that count - all those little details that make a promising-looking cycle route almost unusable once it's finished.

Building better cities

With cities around the world (and the Economist) realising it's people you need to keep moving in cities, not traffic (although the news doesn't seem to have made it to Boston), and the EU funding more research into cycling's effect on city congestion, it shouldn't take an earthquake to return a city to its cycling roots. But how best to create livable towns and cities? Ranty Highwayman wrestles with the question of whether sometimes the answer is 'more roads' while New York Streetsblog considers the effect of events and their management on making pedestrian plazas work for everyone (and Strong Towns just tries a spot of 'chairbombing'). Certainly something will have to give with the suburbs as baby boomers age- perhaps Copenhagen's very similar looking suburbs provide some answers - becuase people will always want to live on quiet streets, at least if the alternative is traffic-clogged ones. Either way, building an accessible city actually benefits everyone in the end.

Comparing cities

Like Bikeyface, Kevin Mayne saves a lot of time by compressing all those British cyclist visits the Netherlands blogs into one post, while a look back at three months cycling in Europe from a New Zealand perspective pulls together some common themes that emerge across the continent. For those that like a little more detail, stand by for the candidates for 2016 Dutch Cycling City from the tireless Bicycle Dutch, this year under a 'bikenomics' theme, while Ranty Highwayman pays Deventer a flying visit and David Hembrow fills in some of the gaps he missed. Further afield, Bike Portland celebrates Colombia's imperfect but effective cycling infrastructure, on honeymoon no less, while two Dubliners decide that your city's not a real cycling city until it has TWO bike share schemes and set up a decentralised alternative to DublinBikes.

Back in the UK, Leicester may be no Assen but it's done a lot more without Cycling Ambition grant money than Birmingham has done with it, while Manchester's cycling tsar says it's unfair to single out Manchester as terrible for cycling as it's the whole of the UK that's rubbish. In Edinburgh, Network Rail have finally agreed to welcome cyclists to Scotland's leading city with something other than a giant 'sod off': 'Fortress Waverley' will soon allow cycle access. Spokes looks back at the effort it's been to bring about the change of heart and makes some suggestions for the future, while elsewhere in the city Claire Cycles is pleasantly surprised to find that the city is actually listening to her complaints about their 'consultation' exercise. And while we're being pleasantly surprised, Car Sick Glasgow has a rush of blood to the head and comes over all optimistic about East Dunbartonshire's cycle strategy while Walthamstow's Mini Holland is set to be celebrated with a cycle festival.

Creating change

In another historical tour de force, Vole O'Speed reminds us what power one person has to make or break cycling in an area - while Chris Boardman wonders why we even have to campaign for cycling at all, given its benefits. Still, it seems we do, although at least our Secretary of State for Transport will be attending the latest EU summit on cycling. Stop Killing Cyclists have ten points for London mayoral candidates to consider, while the CTC is pressing for Wales to follow Scotland's lead and open up the countryside for cycling, and Spokes wants Scotland to spend its VED revenue on cycling rather than trunk roads. Further afield, Portland's mayor gets on his bike for the first time and gets his ear bent for his pains, while Groundswell is celebrating unsung heroes of cycling advocacy, and CAA considers whether guerilla action or just persistence is needed to keep Auckland's bike lanes clear of parked cars.

Hearts and minds

As we work towards the new Jerusalem of decent infrastructure, what can we do now to make cycling more pleasant on the roads? Well, it seems 'Give me Cycle Space' isn't the answer as it doesn't even do what it says on the tin. tough new fines for distracted driving in Ontario might seem a better bet but it seems the deterrent effect doesn't even last 10 minutes by some accounts. Some drivers are aggressive to cyclists simply because they don't like them very much; those that ride bikes themselves are better though so perhaps the tiniest of upticks in cycling numbers will make a fraction of a difference, but if you do encounter aggression on the road, the barriers before a driver can be prosecuted are manifold and the clock is ticking all the time. Josh Lipton celebrates those that choose to ride helmetless although he himself stays firmly on the fence, with his helmet on, which may be sensible (given that a drop from the height of about a garden fence is exactly the sort of incident a bike helmet is designed for - you can't be too careful, if it saves one life etc...). And a reminder that the need for behaviour change goes both ways, with fear of 'cyclists' holding back plans for towpath improvements in Bath.

Cycling for all

In America, a study into the equity of access to cycling infrastructure is marred by using the wrong map for Chicago but a new tool will help planners (and campaigners to identify under-served areas more easily - the sort of areas the Bronzeville 'bike box' serves. In Montreal, its infrastructure and the normalising of cycling it brings has a dramatic effect on one of cycling's most unrepresented groups: the 19-year-old girl - although when it comes to speed dating in London it seems the gender imbalance goes the other way; if any of the dates are successful we can only hope the wedding gets photobombed by the World Naked Bike ride... It's a sad state of affairs when the best place we can think of to raise our kids is in the car - so which US city scores top in the not 100% scientific 'kid awesomeness index'? And have Danish efforts managed to stop the decline in school cycling?

And finally

It's been hard to ignore the unfolding refugee crisis in recent weeks, and even the bike blogging world has not been untouched: donating your (friend's) bike to the Calais refugee camp - by bike - may be a quixotic gesture, but it's one that reminds us of our common humanity.


Here's a link that is worth adding to this week's list: A review of Ashton canal's Velocity funded upgrade.

I've ridden this route and madcyclelanesofmanchester sums it up perfectly. The route is nowhere near the quality it should have been.


A very informative and comprehensive article, and I thank you for drawing my attention to the research which you claim shows that informing people of the risks and health benefits of cycling doesn't affect their likelihood of taking up cycling, in the first paragraph.  I've just posted the following on the website you link to:

I very much doubt that this research shows what the authors think it does, especially in regard to the finding that safety messages don't put people off cycling. They actually found that safety messages didn't have an affect on perceived risk, but if that perceived risk is already high because of many years and repetitions of such safety messages, that doesn't mean that safety messages don't affect perceived risk, only that perceived risk is already high and another repetition doesn't increase it.

There is research which shows that helmet promotion, which focuses on risk, does affect perceptions and reduces cycling levels.

Neither would I expect reiteration of the health benefits of cycling to have much effect, because this message has also been repeated almost ad nauseum and almost everyone is already aware of those benefits. Besides, if you are in reasonable health, why would you listen to messages to improve it?

What this research seems to have shown is that the safety messages, or exaggerating the risks of cycling, have been effective over many years, and a single further example doesn't make much difference, and the same for the health message. What they seem to have proved is that people don't make logical decisions based on risk and health, which isn't really news is it?

Perhaps they should have looked at other approaches, like the financial benefits and weight control benefits, all of which are much more immediate and more likely to appeal to our selfish instincts.