In an increasingly uncertain world, one thing is certain: bike lanes cost a lot less than bombs and deliver (if you'll pardon the pun) more bang for the buck, as long as the 'bang' you want is things like savings on health care. and that's not to mention all the other little benefits they bring, from thriving bike shops to personal savings to teaching science to hard-to-reach students. And for those objecting 'but you can't carry a washing machine on a bike' - how about a tumble dryer?
But then again, in a divided world, there's always some alternative facts - from the fact that cycle tracks can even slow traffic on motorways, at least if you're the Daily Mail, whereas removing speed bumps will clean up pollution if you're the Telegraph, while the bizarre and unevidenced notion that cycle lanes cause pollution seems to have gone from bizarre to almost mainstream in anti-bike thinking - although at least the roads minister is standing firm against the idea for now. Meanwhile, bikelash gets weirder with posters put up in Ireland fat-shaming cyclists, among other things
Meanwhile, back in reality, Oslo is making plans to go car free in large parts, while Paris will have to tackle its suburbs to realise its ambitions as a livable city. Nor need such plans be confined to major cities - strategic planning can make small towns into distinctive and desirable places to live. In the UK, it's often argued that long commutes and hills would keep cycling numbers down but the propensity to cycle tool shows we could be much more ambitious in our cycling goals - while cyclists in Glasgow should use the city's European Cycling Challenge to demonstrate where the infrastructure is most needed (whether that includes a contraflow lane on an M8 sliproad, we're not quite sure). And while New York has long had plenty of ambition, seeing the city through the eyes of Amsterdam's bike mayor suggests 'New Amsterdam' has a ways to go.
So how's that ambition panning out in the UK? Well, if Belfast is anything to go by, not so great as the city's network plan lacks ambition - and will take far too long to acheive its modest goals, needs more work on the 'ring' routes, and more importantly isn't integrated into the rest of the city's policies. Not that Belfast is alone in this - Albany in Western Australia claims it wants to be a cycling city but doesn't seem to have the ambition to make it happen, while, despite a successful trial, Denver won't be extending its protected bike lane to turn it into an actual useful route for at least a year.
Even without much of the way of ambition incremental improvements in the network can add up if they're filling in gaps and not just randomly adding three blocks of bike lane with no plans to extend it. In Washington, after years of delays and log jams things are finally starting to move on five separate planned cycle trails while communities in Philadelphia are signing up in support of completing the Circuit Trails network. In San Francisco, cyclists will be able to cross the bay seven days a week from May, instead of just at weekends. And in Ireland there's some progress on guidelines about how cyclists get treated at roadworks.
Filling in those gaps is even better if it's done right, of course - and Ranty Highwayman has a look at how to make a handy link into a proper space for cycling (and walking): it's more than just a question of taking down a chicane. In Enfield, the Green Lanes cycle tracks are taking shape with some good and some less good elements. Still, they're doing better than Towcester which has built a lane as long as some Dutch ones are wide, or Derby which has confused everyone on who is supposed to give way to whom. Even Cambridge is getting it wrong with paint on the road where there was room for proper segregation - the kind of lanes which can end up making things worse for cyclists rather than better. Meanwhile data from Seville suggests that narrow protected cycle tracks reduce car-bike collisions but may increase the other kinds while putting cyclists and pedestrians together leads to obstructions to cyclists that won't keep out the faster bikes anyway or calls to make cylists dismount rather than just giving them the clearly delineated space that experts have agreed is needed.
Meanwhile, local elections rumble on, with Go Bike in Glasgow getting statements from the Labour, SNP, Green, Conservative and Liberal Democrat candidates attending its hustings this week while Spokes sums up the Edinburgh parties' manifestos and reports back from its own hustings. South of the border, Lancaster Dynamo has some questions for candidates for the county council while candidates for the Tees Valley metro mayor support calls for a strategic cycle network. But does all this reinforce the idea that cyclists are single issue voters who can be bought off with a few bike lanes? And while everyone at the Cardiff hustings agreed that cycling needs to be 'normalised' - what does that actually entail?
Meanwhile, our already elected politicians have been making an impact with motions lodged in the Scottish parliament over the lost of bike spaces on trains to the highlands. Across the Atlantic, Oregon moves closer to safe routes to school legislation and Portland towards a default 20mph limit but it took concerted last-minute lobbying to prevent cyclists visiting Montana from being lumped in with invasive mussels in an amendment to charge them fees.
All of which underlines the importance that to get better infrastructure you need to show up not just once but many times, and not just in Florida. Fortunately there are many opportunities to do so this coming weekend, whether it's joining BikeGob and the transport minister at Pedal on Parliament, or coming out for Space for Cycling rides in Leeds or Sheffield. But it's not just about taking to the streets - positive responses to a consultation mean that a key Islington junction improvements will go ahead, so do keep on responding. To make it easier, Southwark Cyclists have one minute responses you can make to the New Southwark plan and the council's kerbside strategy as well as wanting your comments on the Elephant and Castle changes. Sheffield may still be hiding its consultations behind a door marked 'beware of the leopard', but that doesn't mean you can't respond to planning notifications and similar with imaginative suggestions of your own. Finally - campaign groups everywhere, especially the more privileged and middle class ones, need to make sure they're going beyond tokenism when attempting to reach out to other communities, however well intentioned they are.
When it seems that even our coroners don't know what constitutes careless driving, it's perhaps no surprise that the Michael Mason case has only gone to show how broken our justice system is when it comes to cycling fatalities. This has served to create a vicious circle and underlines the importance of separating bikes and cars more than ever.
But victim blaming and lack of justice aren't confined to the UK: the spike in pedestrian deaths in the US has led to the blame being put on 'drink walking' and distracted pedestrians rather than the people who actually pose the real danger. That means the authorities targeting the wrong problems - whether it's headphone wearing cyclists in DC or delivery riders on e-bikes even if they're not breaking any traffic laws. In fact, one block from where a cyclist was killed, the New York police were ticketing cyclists for (safely) running red lights, when it is more likely to be a dangerous 'mixing zone' junction that poses the real threat - although at least one politician understands that it's changes to the road we need when fatalities occur. Finally - drag a passenger off a plane and beat them and you face an international outcry ... but not so much when you do the same to a black pedestrian who was crossing the road perfectly legally, it seems.
As pundits speculate on China's bikeshare 'bubble', in Glasgow the city aims to broaden the use of its nextbike bike share with a Bike Share for All scheme - and it might find some useful lessons from New York. Meanwhile with summer on its way, Portland's new bike share scheme faces many obstacles before it can be considered a real success.
Eight to eighty ... nine?
As one woman's story demonstrates both that it's possible to keep cycling well into your eighties - as well as the generosity of many kind people - the Tour du Yorkshire is using a mere stripling at 85 for their promotion. At the other end of the spectrum, Bikefast wants help to look into the reasons behind Belfast's nonexistent cycling-to-school rates (perhaps starting with 'there are no schools with bike lanes integrate into their roofs') while British Cycling's breeding programme means the Trott-Kenny offspring is already training in utero. More seriously, if you live in an uncivilised place like LA how do you avoid driving your most precious cargo? Bike Dad responds by throwing money at the problem.
Never mind the 200 year anniversary of the invention of the bike - let's celebrate the first 'bike trip' courtesy of the discoverer of LSD. Just nobody tell the Daily Mail...