The Great Big Faint Signs of Progress Bike Blog Roundup

It's almost as if they knew we were coming: with the Cycling Embassy AGM venturing north of the border to Glasgow - where we may get to sample some of the delights showcased by Glasgow Cycle Infra Day - the Scottish government announced it was doubling spending on active travel. This was widely welcomed by campaigning organisations from Pedal on Parliament to Cycling UK, with Spokes describing it as the fruit of much campaiging, combined with a minister willing to take the lead. Meanwhile, BikeGob is up for the post of active nation commissioner. And it wasn't just Scotland - California is also getting more money for active travel, local candidates in New York support a 'people way' on Grand Street, and a summer of hard campaigning has finally started to shift the balance of power on Baltimore's streets.

Other politicians are available

Not that the world's politicians have universally got it: in Westminster, not only are there moves to include cyclists in the Dangerous Driving laws, but Peter Bone has resurrected his child helmet compulsion bill. In Bristol, the mayor is urged to invest in the mass transport network that offers real value for money, while in Lambeth it's time to check up on how the borough's councillors have done at living up to their Space for Cycling promises. In America, there are threats to funding for trails in Pennsylvania, and for safe routes to schools in San Francisco as politicians try and balance the books.

Back to the drawing board

Sometimes cycle campaigning can feel a bit like death by consultation, but as Lambeth Cyclists reminds us sometimes the effort to respond can pay back in spades, with a simple addition to a local plan having a significant effect over time. In Auckland, consultations over the Tamaki Drive cycleway have resulted in a major boost to its quality, while in Dublin, councillors delay the Clontarf route with the hope that major flaws with it will be addressed. So it's worth engaging with plans for Tooting Bec Road which definitely leave room for improvement, Croydon's fiveways junction that seems to be planning for rising traffic levels that aren't really happening, and even the M621 in Leeds that currently severs communities in the area. However, even with consultation, sometimes what ends up being built doesn't quite resemble what was in the plans.

Restoring streets for people

There were also encouraging signs of space being made for people, with Exeter to get its first two-way protected bike lane while Chicago is turning a car slip lane into a bike turn lane. In Seattle a protected bike route creeps two blocks closer to completion while San Francisco uses purple paint (and more importantly, some strategic bollards) to protect pedestrians - Culver City's green-painted bike lanes look far less convincing. Traffic diverters offer a quick and easy way to reclaim streets for people, while both San Francisco and Brisbane. And after eight weeks of traffic-free roads in Prospect Park, why not just keep the cars out for good?


One step forward, one step back

Elsewhere, it seemed like we got the usual mixture of setbacks alongside advances, with Sheffield's Paternoster Row to be made more dangerous to cycle on despite bikes dominating the traffic there currently, while an upgrade to NCR55 in Wigan results in a nice wide path - but with a terrible surface. In Maryland, one trail closes and another opens - while in LA the battle over road diets rages on with opponents claiming they want to remove bike lanes for cyclists' own safety. And as mother nature continues to wreak havoc, an Oregon wildfire has damaged one historic cycling and walking route.

Designing in conflict

Meanwhile, when we do build stuff, we tend to lump cyclists and pedestrians together increasing conflict rather than reducing it and putting cyclists on the pavement is to fulfil the expectation that cycling levels will remain tiny for the foreseeable future (it's no way to win the Tour of Britain either). Instead, we could be building cities that are accessible to everyone with no artificial conflict between cyclists and those with disabilities. One way to bring this about is to treat the 'where's your helmet?' comments in a constructive and inclusive manner (and while we're at it, we should be making common cause with horse riders too not treating them the way drivers treat cyclists). Not that the UK is the only one getting it wrong - Albuquerque takes a leaf out of the UK street design playbook and squeezes in a bike lane too small for the bike stencil while Adelaide hopes that paint and a contraflow sign will work to get kids safely to school without reducing traffic and parking as well.

Backlash gets physical

With all this conflict built in, perhaps it's not surprising that some people object to cyclists - however illogically, with farmers sabotaging the Tour of the Borders because they felt it 'wasted police time', and objections raised to a cafe and cycle shop at the end of one of the most popular cycle routes in the UK, because who wants the cyclists' money coming into the economy. With the media whipping up trouble it means that we all suffer the consequences of becoming an outgroup, but at least we can get some grim satisfaction at the road-rager who ends up convicted by his own dashcam footage.

Bike make it better

All of which makes it harder for us to all to reap the benefits of more walking and cycling, although Southwark's Joint Strategic Needs Assessment does outline the benefits and Southwark Cyclists makes the case for cycling to improve mental health and wellbeing - while Thousandth Fastest reminds firms about the health aspect of 'health and safety'. In America, Adobe's bike pool offers much more than just a companionable commute, while Seattle Bike Blog attempts to move house by bike. And, if nothing else, a bike turns the inevitable bank holiday traffic jam into an exercise in enjoyable smugness.

Tragic consequences and victim blaming

Tragically, there are more serious consequences to our car-dependent culture, with yet another vigil and die in in London, for Ardian Zagani, with a powerful speech by Ranty Highwayman calling for better design to save lives - a more constructive approach than the victim blaming that Manchester Police fell into. But the real victim blaming at the moment seems to be aimed at pedestrians in America with cities cracking down on 'distracted walking' and Ford leaping on the band wagon although blaming pedestrians for exercising their right to cross the road is nothing new. Bike Portland tries to redress the balance with some safety tips for drivers - while BicycleDutch takes a foray into pedestrian matters and points out Dutch pedestrians can now cross wherever they like whether it's a street or a bike lane.

Meanwhile, Cycle Bath takes a look at how ASLs could be made safer rather than the current death traps they are now, while PedalFree asks what can be done to make initially confusing new infrastructure safer while it 'beds in'.

'E' is for Enforcement

As Vision Zero continues to spread in America, the country needs to address its structural racism before going any further - not to mention endemic police parking on bike lanes in New York. As Illinois tweaks its legislation to encourage drivers to cross the centre line when they pass bikes, in the UK, Bath will be supplementing its close pass initiative with a bus advertising campaign - and one cyclist's otherwise blissful commute is marred by a dangerous driver on the 2% that's on the road, putting paid to any plans to cycle with her family on that route.

A parent's place is in the wrong

As a stupid tweet criticising cargo bike mums in London gets a roasting all the way from New York, Raise the Hammer points out that fusses about other people's parenting choices tend to obscure the real issue, that we're building inactivity into our cities. Indeed, a lack of safe space might mean kids are learning to ride bikes later but at least if they can take part in a bike train to school they will get a bit more physical activity overall.

Ebike news

Meanwhile, ebike stories trundle on, with sales fuelling Halford's growth although politicians across Europe have been slow to wake up to the potential of cargobikes and e-cargobikes, even though they are falling overthemselves to subsidise electric cars, although Sweden is bucking that trend. Meanwhile one US firm is offering trials for those looking to ditch the car - but if you do get one, don't expect you'll be able to store it securely, at least in Mayo (your van would be fine though).

Bike share news

Meanwhile the spread of bikeshare also continues apace, with Ofo in Hackney and Bleeper bikes in South Dublin both reaching places their city's conventional bike share scheme have failed to reach. In LA and New York it's the public bike share schemes that are expanding into new territory while Boston wants help siting its new docking stations as its scheme expands - but ultimately these schemes will need to adapt to the new landscape. Holland Cycles considers if Bikeshare will ever have a place in the Netherlands while Lancaster Dynamo discovers the free white bikes in the Hoge Veluwe national park are already providing 'mass transport'. And as Seattle continues its big bikesharing experiment, Bicycling Magazine wonders if American schemes will ever get around the helmet issue and Getting Around Sac tries out the dockless LimeBikes scheme in Lake Tahoe.

We'll always have Amsterdam

Finally, with images in circulation pointing out that Amsterdam didn't always use to be like Amsterdam, some bloggers considered whether Melbourne or even Croydon could undo decades of car-centric planning. In a sadly truncated tour, Glasgow Cycleman still manages to be surprised by the quality of the infrastructure - no potholes!. And if all else fails, you can always just move to actual Amsterdam and buy a cargobike called Steve and try and look like a local ...