It was a relatively quiet week this week, as far as blogging was concerned - maybe that's because so many of you were out protesting.
Here's the explanation of why Stop Killing Cyclists held a demonstration outside the Department for Transport, a protest planned in advance that was given all the more relevance following a series of three cycling deaths (and a number of pedestrian deaths) in the capital in the days beforehand, which led to the protests being covered by BBC News. London Cycling Campaign argued that new schemes to improve walking and cycling safety are the only way forward, while British Cycling also called for action and investment, at a national level. Ranty Highwayman was at the demonstration, and gave his thoughts on the need for action (and why the Department for Transport's response was so poor).
The spate of deaths and injuries coincided unfortunately with yet another lazy Daily Mail hit piece on cycling, the kind of journalism that failed just about every test for responsibility, followed up by an appearance on BBC Radio Ulster that didn't pay any attention to the facts on the ground in Northern Ireland. The Sunday Times, however, managed to use (rather than abuse) the same release of statistics, identifying cycling collision hotspots, like a roundabout in Oxford.
Guide Dogs were also campaigning this week, calling for pavement parking to become an explicit, unambiguous offence, while Cambridge MP Daniel Zeichner listened to the concerns of Cambridge residents with visual impairment. Let's hope this kind of crazy tactile paving doesn't catch on in the UK.
It's not just visual impairment that matters - 'shared space' schemes risk being areas that favour men over women, as well able-bodied people over those with disabilities. Designing well for all potential users is clearly important, something that has been neglected in cycling infrastructure and provision for decades. And in the real world, it turns out that if you remove proper pedestrian crossings on busy roads and replace them with informal 'courtesy crossings'... people can't cross the road safely and nobody likes it.
Maybe it's time Cambridgeshire Police started taking mobile phone use by drivers much more seriously - they could certainly take tips from West Midlands Police, who continue to write thoughtfully about preventing harm and improving safety on their roads. Meanwhile FedEx would seem to have a bit of explaining to do after they inadvertently revealed they won't bother engaging with road safety complaints if the victims aren't important enough, and are Transport for London still taking bus safety seriously?
Devon and Cornwall police say they will start to adopt West Midland Police's close pass initiative, just one of six police forces who are considering trials of the successful project. Meanwhile the All-Party Parliamentary Cycling Group inquiry into road justice continues - the Bristol Road Justice Group just one of many organisations and individuals who have made a submission - and Cycling UK responded to the Ministry of Justice consultation on driving offences and penalties. Less seriously, it seemed that journalists couldn't actually be bothered to research what the so-called 'Dutch reach' technique of opening car doors to avoid 'dooming' actually involves - here's Cycling UK to explain the reality.
This week NI Greenways examined the clear case for bridges in key locations in Northern Ireland - one at Portstewart and another at Bannfoot - both reducing what are currently very long diversions for people walking or cycling. But of course when bridges are built they have to be maintained - and that means keeping them free of filth. There is currently a bike path on New York's George Washington Bridge - but for how much longer?
Bearing in mind that the way we design our roads and streets has enormous bearing on our health, wealth and happiness, it's unfortunate that the way they are funded (and the political choices behind those decisions) amounts to a Prisoner's Dilemma, one that won't be solved by vastly expensive tunnels for motor traffic beneath cities - perhaps forgetting that transport planning is at heart about people and not about structures, vehicles and projects. Here's a handy list of the ways in which 'Mini Holland' schemes benefit entire communities.
New roads proposed around Oxford shopping centre look like a recipe for danger and conflict - and the blank slate of the Olympic Park is turning out to be a bit of a disaster as far as designing for cycling (and walking) is concerned. There's some disappointing 'infrastructure' (and disappointing new proposals) for cycling routes Dumfries' new hospital too. Let's hope that a new Highways England design standard starts firming up cycling design across the U.K.
At least Auckland is planning ahead, developing cycle networks for the future, and there's a chance to feed into Glamorgan's Active Travel Act consultation. Planning seems to be paying off in New York, where cycling continues to grow, and California looks to be getting in on the act with the state's most promising plan for walking and cycling for some time. And Austin, Texas plans to tackle congestion by... planning for cycling. Whatever the city, the pernicious myth of 'balance' must be tackled - walking, cycling and public transport should be prioritised, particularly as storing cars in public space imposes a cost on everyone else.
Local politics can often seem like a powerful brake on progress, so it helps to understand how it functions. This isn't necessarily a right- or left-wing problem; there is a strong right-wing case for cycling as an urban mobility solution - and we should be planning and designing for the people who are not cycling now to make any kind of progress, helped by thinking about people cycling, rather than 'cyclists'. Councils can get things right - perhaps the most prominent example this week being Camden's closure of a road during the school run, which hit the headlines.
Finally, when, politically, there's so much energy and investment being thrown at technology in transport, how should cycling activists and lobbyists respond?
Irish Cycle took a detailed look at the history of laws requiring (or - as is currently the case - not requiring) cyclists to use cycle tracks in the Republic - but for silly lawmaking surely nothing can top a Minnesota state representative's bill to require a licence to use cycleways (and to ban children from using them), something that prompted a slightly surreal email exchange with the representative in question. At least in California there appear to be some positive changes coming to their highway manual, including the appearance of Dutch 'shark's teeth' markings.
Really there's just no excuse for not having proper mudguards (or 'fenders') on your bike; they are tried and trusted, just like the simple bicycle bell, which you definitely add to your handlebars instead of using yet another ridiculous kickstarter project. The city of Berlin is starting to promote deliveries by cargo bike, while marijuana could be delivered by cycle in Portland (it's legal there), except for an unfortunately-worded piece of legislation that means it has to be delivered by motor vehicle.
Cycling appears to be making one 105-year-old even fitter as he gets older, so there might be hope for us all - but the bad news is he could just be genetically unique.
And while Toronto's 'coldest day' ride had the mildest temperatures ever, a pedal-powered gritter appeared in Britain (but surely designing cycling infrastructure capable of accommodating full-size gritters would be a better idea!).