The Great Big White, Male and Middle Class Bike Blog Roundup

The big news this week, apparently, was a four year old report into attitudes to cycling in London that isn't at all being used as a stick to beat plans for investment in cycling by claiming it's just for the middle classes (but at least stops short of claiming it's an infringement of religious freedoms - maybe next week). Perhaps it's the white middle class males who are objecting to cycling investment who should get on their bikes themselves and see what happens in the Netherlands - or in Chicago, where similar claims have proved not to stand up to scrutiny - and indeed a quick look at the latest (as yet unfinished) Cycle Superhighway shows plenty of diversity, although cycling groups don't really help themselves with conference events that don't reflect even their own membership. Still, as anti-cycling punditry goes, it was at least attempting to use some evidence to back up its case rather than the latest piece of trolling that was so cliched as to ultimately be completely tedious - surely the anathema of the click-bait columnist everywhere - how much better to be a badass biking septuagenarian who doesn't let a mere hip replacement slow her down. 

Tackling the school run

If we are to properly tackle the issues of making cycling something for everyone then a good start would be to start thinking of London's planned 'quietways' as 'kidways' so that they can't be watered down to just paints and signs; this is after all how the Dutch approach it, along with a hefty dose of trial and error. The school run generally is a complex issue: we need to properly understand the reasons why people drive their kids to school and tackle those, although restricting driving around the school altogether might turn out to be part of the solution - as might school field trips on bikes, a chance to play in traffic and even teaching the parents of nursery-school pupils how to fix their children's bikes. And while events like walk and bike to school day might look like a success if you concentrate on those who take part - we shouldn't forget the schools and children that can't join in.

Design matters

So how are we doing on producing the sort of infrastructure that would get kids on bikes? Well, Glasgow's latest segregated route has a bit of room for improvement while a simple contraflow cycle lane in Manchester started out as a good idea but was ruined in the execution but at least there are some nice bollards to reinforce some filtered permeability in Stretford. Lorry drivers in Swansea complain a poorly designed route is bringing them into conflict with bikes, although whether their objection lies in the design of the route or just the fact that it's bringing more cyclists onto the road isn't made clear. In London, Westminster's quietway plans could do with being, well, a little more quiet, but even so should be supported say the LCC, while Southwark cyclists also support plans for Quietway 7, with some caveats. All in all, we need to concentrate on pragmatic solutions for the streets we have rather than getting caught up in a dream of nirvana that can never be reached.

Further afield, Salt Lake City gets America's second protected intersection while Bicycle Dutch tries to demystify the Dutch roundabout. It helps if cities start by giving bikes enough space - Seattle shows what can be done on the cheap with plastic posts and a stop sign as long as you have a nice wide bike lane to start with (and a sensible way of getting on and off at the 'wrong' end). And to keep it maintained, Seattle is also getting a bike designed to monitor the conditions of the trails. Not that it's all sweet in the United States - in some places they don't even join up the pavements, while nor is it all about infrastructure (or cycling) - the lesson for New Zealand is that slower speeds have benefits for everyone.

Trialling things

Designs are one thing, but sometimes people have to see things for themselves - like this great little film about a pop up bike lane that shows how little it takes to create a parking-protected lane - while Leicester is moving ahead with plans for two new protected cycle routes after trialling lane closures and finding a limited impact on traffic. Washington's pioneering Pennsylvania Avenue still has some lessons for New York - and may have started as a street closure for security reasons while it's design was down to a bit of confusion over where the lanes should go. Meanwhile in New York, interim plans for a greenway look better than the permanent ones raising the question whether they can't just have both...

Perhaps the ultimate demonstration of a different way of arranging our cities is the open streets event - so it's good news that Cardiff is considering following Paris's lead and closing its city centre to cars, while a visit to London's FreeCycle could be an inspiration for Auckland. Five years on, BikinginLA looks back on the crazy idea that led to the very first Ciclavia.

Data driven

Bike bloggers do love a good data set and this week was no exception with the Goldsmith's Row cycle counter telling us something about cycling in Hackney while in Minnesota it seems that the weather is all important in driving bike share use - while cross referencing with Strava heatmaps might provide clues as to where to site new bikeshare stations. Visit England crunched the numbers and discovered that cycling actually is the new golf (although not if visitors can't take their bikes on the train without a spanner and a box...). Copenhagenize counts cargo bikes to find out who cycles them and with what - and then also looks at actual helmet usage and finds it lower than the supposed average - while it could be that ditching its helmet law would be the way to improve usage of Seattle's bike share system. Not that there's any amount of data that will settle the entrenched helmet argument one way or another - the Guardian contrasts Amsterdam and Seattle without much chance of changing anybody's mind - and this research probably won't do much more either. Finally, Bristol Cars wonders if we really want Google in control of our vehicles - or would it still be better than the current nut behind the wheel? Finally, do the savings for cyling stack up if we consider time is money? Or does the extra time spent cycling count as a bonus ...

Championing change

As we reported last week, there was recognition for Slow Roll Chicago from the White House and this week the its champion Oboi Reed picked up his award - but he's long been an inspiration to the Safe Routes to School partnership - while Active Trans is campaigning for 'bikeways for all' - nobody should live more than quarter of a mile from a low-stress bike route. Visions for change can be large or small - in Kiev, campaigners get their first joined-up commuter route for cycling, a campaign by Carlton Reid and NewCycling overturns plans that would have made Jesmond Dene Road a racetrack for motorists, while in Birmingham we finally discover how many person hours it takes to get a lightbulb changed in a cycle tunnel. Meanwhile Portland, being Portland, is putting its everyday climate heroes (that's 'cyclists') on a pedestal

Copenhagenizing our politicians?

If we don't want to spend the rest of our lives fighting over every bollard and lightbulb, we need a bit of leadership from the top - and there was some hope this week as our minister for Cycling visits Copenhagen and sees the light while more money was announced for active travel in Scotland bringing the total to the highest ever (just) - a rare example of a politician's promise being kept. With We Walk, We Cycle, We Vote kicking off in Glasgow, a short tour of Glasgow's infrastructure shows why more investment is needed to undo 40 years of neglect - hopefully the council will soon get the memo ... In Richmond a new cycling officer and council champion make all the difference, while Hammersmith and Fulham's strategy aims to double cycling levels but Birmingham's Road Safety Strategy seems to rest on some flawed assumptions and statistics.

We fought the law...

Giving evidence to the Commons' transport select committee, the Cycling Silk pointed out that if the authorities put as much effort into acting on reports of bad driving as they did into pretending to, we might have safer roads by now - while the CTC called for more visible enforcement efforts. Where there is enforcement - as in over lorries in London the levels of non-compliance with standards is frightening - but it's a shame it's not a nationwide initiative. The Danes are discovering the benefits of cycling police officers - if nothing else they might not try and annexe a bike lane completely for parking (although at least New York cyclists don't have horse-drawn carriages abusing their bike lanes). A glance at some fellow drivers leaves Cycle Stuff in no doubt that the car makes them feel safe enough to drive distracted, while an encounter with a scofflaw driver leaves WiSoB thinking about her own behaviour. And in Bristol, the theives are getting unusually well-prepared so be careful what you lock your bike to.

International roundup

As ever, a cycling Brit's experience of the Netherlands served to underline everything that's terrifying and wrong about cycling in the UK (and it sounds like cycling in Nairobi might be similar), but a bike ride that was several bridges too far reminded Kevin Mayne that flat terrain and space for cycling still don't make it easy to ride into a headwind - perhaps you need a recumbent to really enjoy long-distance Dutch cycling properly. In New Zealand, Auckland's latest cycle bridge is so slinky and impressive it deserves a memorable name - but even as plans for a second bridge for cyclists and pedestrians get underway, plans to improve a dangerous junction aren't even properly on the drawing board. And in Christchurch, more infrastructure is taking shape as the city continues to rebuild - as does Chicago's latest protected lane. It's nice to see US states competing to see who can be the most cycle friendly - while, further afield still, Seoul publishes its cycling masterplan complete with bike share, to join Sheffield and Helsinki as the latest cities to adopt a scheme.

Better by bike

And finally, we should remember that whether it's your big day or the aftermath of the 'big one' - the bike is the only way to go.