The Great Big Slow, Slow, Quick, Quick, Slow Bike Blog Roundup

Anyone who's been involved at all in cycle campaigning knows how long it can take for anything to get done - but cities wanting to spearhead change would do well to heed Janette Sadik-Kahn's advice for Toronto from New York to move fast and trial things and tweak later. Advice that Toronto could do well to heed with even a pilot of protected bike lanes taking years to agree on, although it's finally at the consultation stage (not that New York is always all that much better with a greenway subject to detours because of construction for eight years...). In contrast Denver has managed to build its latest links in less than a year, while in Chicago it seems it took a tragedy to create the momentum (and overcome the obstacles) to build a raised cycle track but it's now trialling a junction with features taken from a Dutch-style protected junction. Meanwhile in the UK, plans for Glasgow's Victoria Road scheme will take ages to actually come to changes on the ground, but Bristol is being hit by a slew of consultations at once and Cardiff is about to get a whole 140 metres of bike lane. Too impatient to wait for your council to act? How about building your own speed bump out of leaves?

Taking on the antis

Of course, whether things move quickly or slowly there will still be backlash - but only if the plans are good enough, which usually means taking space away from cars, which is why Glasgow and East Dunbartonshire councils need to hang tough and implement their plans despite the anger, bearing in mind that even when the figures show a scheme has been a big success, the nay-sayers will be undeterred. In Hackney battles over rat-run closures are getting unpleasantly personal but in Leicester the mayor seems to be sticking it out and has been returned with an increased mandate for his trouble. The Daily Express would like to get Britain moving but doesn't seem to have realised that oiks on bikes are part of the solution, not the problem - if you really want to cause gridlock, you need a festive fizzy drink truck. Sometimes you need to take desperate measures to support plans for change - like reading (and writing) the comments in your local paper. And sometimes, the backlash comes from organisations you think might support cycling but apparently London Travelwatch only has particular forms of travel in mind. Meanwhile in Toronto, the city's cabs love bike lanes so much they've turned them into cab ranks.

The Good, the Bad and the Ugly

So what infrastructure is out there that's good enough to generate a proper backlash? Ranty Highwayman took a closer look at the works done for Waltham Forest's Mini Holland Scheme while as Cycle Superhighway 5 is officially opened, that stats show that cycle traffic over Vauxhall Bridge has already increased 30% in 3 weeks. Southwark Cyclists considers the pros and cons of two-way cycle tracks on CS4 while Maidstone on Bike has some ideas for making plans for Westminster Bridge Road even better. It wasn't all good, though - plans for Roman Road in Bristol show that cycling still isn't being 'baked in' to all schemes in the city while Manchester's latest attempt at mixing bikes and trams safely seem to veer between the terrifying and the merely very poor - but have efforts to minimise bike-bus conflict in New Zealand turned out any better? And if you've ever wondered what Dutch engineers think of sharrows wonder no more (spoiler alert: they're not that great).

Any colour you like as long as its ... no wait, just any colour you like

We all need a bit of colour to brighten a winter day - and in Amsterdam they're planning to roll out a 'red carpet' from the station to the heart of the city - while Auckland opts for a fabulous pink (wait till the first driver crashes into that and claims they didn't see it) and in Portland people prefer greenery. Meanwhile, cyclists in Denmark may never encounter a traffic light stuck on the wrong colour again, as long as they've got the right gadget on their bike. 

Pulling a FAST one

With the latest Climate Conference happening in Paris, Peter Walker points out that there's already a brilliant practical solution to cutting transport emissions - so why aren't politicians falling over themselves to fund it? The sad truth is that in the UK we're going to have to pay more in fines for pollution than we ever invest in bikes (and all because even in London people like the convenience of their cars). Meanwhile the US's FAST act shows that Congress cares little about cutting carbon emissions - although the bill was better for cycling than people had feared with funding retained for Safe Routes to Schools, it still enshrined business as usual on the roads - so not much different from the outcome of the UK's own comprehensive spending review. For those considering what might change, it doesn't sound as if Hillary would do anything much different if she were president, and some argue that fuel taxes shouldn't be used to fund cycling anyway - although it does make sense perhaps for Philadelphia to fund its Vision Zero plans with an extra $5 on vehicle licences as they're the ones causing most of the problems.

Campaigning for change

And so the work goes on to bring about change in a variety of ways - from die-ins in London (where the Assembly unanimously voted to ask the mayor to consider adopting Vision Zero) to hackdays in Liverpool on the National Propensity to Cycle tool, to a petition for a safer junction in Oxford. In Sutton, campaigners join forces with hospital staff to make the case for space for cycling, while in Edinburgh WiSoB tries talking to politicians - if only she can get a word in edgeways. Ranty Highwayman looks back at the impact of three years of blogging while Vole O'Speed has some advice for pedestrian campaigners over pavement parking.

The blame game

It's a curious thing that while we don't generally blame drivers when they get ploughed into by a truck, and yet when a vulnerable road user is killed (and, sadly, the most vulnerable of all bear the brunt of traffic violence), the onus seems to always be on them to have kept themselves safe - and yes, bikes and pedestrians ought to make a driver nervous. And yet, the death of a cyclists may be due to many villains, not just the driver who left-hooked him. We can start by not labelling each other and standing together - remember appearances can deceive and stereotypes can be wrong. We should also not try to make the whole world wear hi vis unless you need it to lend to a police officer. You might want to avoid it if you're commuting on Seattle's off road routes at night though - the offical advice is that it's illegal after dark but you can continue if you're discreet about it...

Understanding the barriers

With global bike ownership (or access to a bike) apparently falling by half in the last 30 years, what are the real barriers to greater cycling? Some argue that geography (or at least topography is destiny and we can't argue away the fact that Amsterdam is flat - but a closer look at Seattle's bike share data suggests hills aren't quite as important as you might think. Pollution on the roads is a problem for everyone but the latest study suggests bikes get it worse if only because they're breathing it for longer. For under-represented groups like minorities understanding the real barriers they face is the first step to overcoming them, while in suburban communities there's plenty of potential for cycling but the infrastructure just isn't there. This week also saw a couple of new barriers in the UK - with the Forth Road Bridge closure meaning a massive detour for bikes while this weekend's flooding has swept away a bike bridge on the C2C route.

Cities (and other places) compared

As we learn what the world's megacities can teach us about cycling, Canadian cities got some comparative figures but whether they're at all accurate is open to interpretation while, using some very dubious statistics indeed, Tuscon takes the crown for 'everyday awesomeness' in cycling in the US. Dublin seems to have decided that cycling is no longer part of its future development, while Ireland's universities have a lot to learn from their Dutch counterparts (or maybe even Cambridge). Newcastle needs to manage its through traffic differently if it's to build a properly liveable city but for now its second round Cycle City Ambition Fund plans raise more questions than answers. New York's lethally impatient drivers are encouraged by its street design - in contrast Lanzarote's segregated cycleways encourage relaxed cycling in ordinary clothes (those photos seem a mile away from thoughts of winter snow clearance but that's important too). As Cleveland considers bike share there are lessons from Cincinnati which has exceeded its expectations. Pedestrianise London, now neither in London nor mainly a pedestrian considers his multimodal Dutch commute - while reminds us that from some perspectives and in some places London is pretty great for walking too...

And finally ...

This is our last 'classic' blog roundup of the year - there will be another themed one (on shopping, appropriately enough) next week - so we wanted to end on a cheery and somewhat festive note, from the spread of Cycling Without Age to another continent, to easy ways to tow your surfboard with your bike, to cheaper car insurance for cyclists, perhaps because they never drive theirs... In Reading, cyclists are no longer just cake powered but biscuit enabled with a tunnel that would make me hungry every time I cycled through it. Finally, though, we would be remiss if we didn't share this important information with you on readying your bike for the zombie apocalypse.

We'll be back with more essential news in 2016, zombies permitting


To say "fuel taxes are for roads for cars" makes about as much sense as saying, "alcohol taxes are for funding cocktail parties."