The Great Big Near Miss Bike Blog Roundup

In case you missed it (did you see what we did there?) the Near Miss project is back for another year; those in the UK are encouraged to sign up (while cyclists in Portland can instead have an app that allows them to give every ride a thumbs up or thumbs down). Ranty Highwayman finds the first results fascinating from both a personal and a professional perspective & many may be surprised, including Gracen Johnson who seems to suffer more harassment on her 'fast bike' (then again if you're a magnet for bike harassment you'll catch it whatever your ride) - not that any of this invalidates the joys of riding slow.

A numbers game

The Near Miss project wasn't the only one crunching numbers this week - with the Royal Mail (no, no idea either) discovering Cambridge and Perth top the cycle commuter rankings, while a different poll found that notherners cycle more than southerners - insert your own stereotypes here. In Birmingham, plans to increase numbers cycling don't seem to have reached the university - although if you can't get your students cycling, who will? - while, if nothing else, Cycle To Work Day saw  record numbers signing up. Whether it reflects actual cycling to work on any other day is an open question - and one that perhaps even the Dutch don't know as they get ready for their first ever national bike counting week. In the US, there was disagreement over the latest cycle safety figures - do falling child casualties just reflect that children are riding less - or are they in fact riding the same amount as in the 70s, just not to school? Nor is counting (or predicting) traffic any easier - Urban kchoze explains how traffic studies make things worse for urban planning - especially when people's safety is pitted against traffic flow while the maths behind Braess's paradox explains why building a new road might make journey times worse (but then again, once your average speed in a car is no faster than a bike, you might as well cycle...)

A vision thing

Number crunching aside, cities need visions whether they're from the futurologists, the assembled great and the good of cycling in Portland or just clear-sighted children if they're not to be the subject of a health warning from the Surgeon General. Utrecht's city centre shows what a transformation is wrought once you start to design a city for people rather than traffic; fast growing cities could leapfrog the car-dominated stage altogether and go straight for a low-carbon solution: too late for Jakarta to take that particular path, but cities in Colombia have some lessosn for their cousins in the north. New York may still have a long way to go before it becomes a truly bikable city - but it has learned that once you start to transform unloved corners of the city then good things - and people - follow, but sadly it's just as easy to unmake a place as make one.

The detail thing

Visions are one part of the equation, details are the other - with a subtly raised curb causing havoc in Southwark while the closing of a ratrun to cars in Birmingham is welcome, although it could be better designed, Quietways have to consist of more than lines and signs and staggered signalised crossings on the Embankment superhighway are serious overkill for pedestrians while the temporary layout on CS2 is putting cyclists in danger (and no, sign won't make it better). Still, adopting a trial approach could be the way to proceed in Tooting just as it seems to be in Toronto, while in Christchurch the final details will soon be known as the city's new cycleways start to take shape. And for those tricky protected junctions, there's a webinare next week on Vancouver's design.

Routing matters

The other part of the equation is routing - and plans in Swansea will 'temporarily' (that's for 3 years) scupper a key east-west bike route while Southwark needs a north-south spine that provides safe alternatives to a busy park. Opening up access to bikes in Wales shouldn't mean damaging footpaths - but perhaps it might prove an alternative to the advanced obstacle course that is NCN4. Across the Atlantic, St Louis should try following Indianapolis's example and invest in cycling infrastructure where people will use it rather than tuck it away while supporters of a 'Grand History Trail' seem to be fighting battles every bit as prolonged as the historic ones they want to commemorate - still, it's better than attempting to ban cycling altogether or at least put up a sign that claims that. For commuters, eBay at least understands that its better to be near bike and train connections than a freeway these days - although until your office has tackled the last yards of your bike commute, just how bike friendly can your employer claim to be?

Bike share and e-bikes

Portland's revival of its plans for a docking-stationless scheme put bike share firmly on the agenda this week, although it's not clear how Spinlister's rival plans will fit in (and perhaps latest startup AirDonkey will join in the fun too?). Either way, although there are many ways it could go wrong, bike share can be as much about making public transport work better as it is about improving cycling. In Chicago, the effort is about making its Divvy membership less pale and male - with its low cost 'Divvy for everyone' scheme exceeding all expectations.

Sometimes new riders need a little extra push (literally), with loans of e-bikes changing transport habits in Denmark; Treehuggers tries to lay some myths while Ride like a Girl argues it's time to stop thinking of e-bikes as 'cheating' and instead think 'woo hoo, bikes for all'

Protecting the vulnerable

It shouldn't really be needed, perhaps, but in Ontario, a coalition of groups - and most importantly the families of those already killed are calling for a vulnerable road user law with harsher penalties for drivers. Perhaps we need to start seeing the bodies to grasp the reality of everyday traffic violence, or perhaps haunting photos of ghost bikes will do the trick - but those who have been in a collision barely need a reminder. Nor should we make a big fuss about driverless cars, as, according to the media we've had them for years - and we should also remember that when it comes to bad driving two wrongs don't make a right when the balance of power is so skewed

Politics and campaigning

Perhaps the political excitement was elsewhere this week but in Scotland cash for cycling (and almost everything else) is under extreme uncertainty. In Portland it turns out that the first thing you do after announcing your mayoral candidacy is sit down with cycle campaigners - although perhaps the campaigners themselves should be sitting down in the streets (and perhaps the pedestrians too). One campaigner taking direct action chose to say it with flowers when a bike lane isn't protected (although even with protection drivers still find a way to park on them). Kidical Massive will be taking to the streets across the world - although probably not blocking traffic - next Saturday, while open streets events have been showing what's possible in more ways than one once cars have been banished. Meanwhile New Cycling looks back at five years and counting while Subversive Suburbanite knows how Jesus would get around these days.

Inspiration and otherwise

For those of us not divinely inspired, just seeing families happy and cycling (however much stubbornness that has taken) can be enough of a spur to cycling, while for others it can be a trip to the ball game. Pedal for Scotland is supposed to inspire everyone to get out on their bike but some locals didn't get the memo in yet another example of the bikelash riptide - perhaps a lot of free spending tourists will encourage them to see the benefit of cycling? At least the thirsty ones will be better off in Scotland than in Yorkshire, or indeed, Wales. And finally, it seems that serious roadies put off new riders by making it seem too daunting ... says a man who has cycled around the world and the length of Africa... because that's not difficult at all.