Blog Roundup 2/2012

OK, before you get too comfortable settling down and reading this, today is your last chance to join the 1200 people who've signed the petition to the WI rejecting calls for compulsory helmet laws before it goes off so please go and do that - and if you're not sure what it's all about read this. Or, if you think the WI don't go far enough, have a look at what Wheels, Pedals, Person proposes instead.

This week was a week of two protests, of very different kinds. In Edinburgh, the cyclists are revolting - but law abidingly. 350 people (including your own correspondent) turned up on a grey January day - enough to lure the Scottish Transport minister out of the government building, but not apparently enough to change his mind...The Lib Dems seem to have noticed, at least - just a shame their English counterparts in the coalition aren't making the same points. To see how far the Scots have to go, Paul Jakma looks at cycling in the Netherlands vs. Glasgow while War on the Motorist finds how far they've come with one of the UK's best on-road cycle tracks (a little bit like being the UK's tallest dwarf, but never mind).

In London, taking a rather more confrontational approach, cyclists and pedestrians demonstrated to bring King's Cross to a standstill. Wheels, Pedals, Person was there too while the Guardian asks if this is the start of a national debate. Meanwhile, there is a capital city with a new approach to making its centre people friendly... shame it's Dublin & not London or Edinburgh - though obviously nice for the Irish, of course! And for the New Yorkers: The year Zero compares London and New York.

Dawn Foster reminded us (and Boris) why all this matters as she explains to the Mayor of London why she no longer rides a bike in his city; Kevin Blowe, after shattering his shoulder, doesn't ride either. Perhaps it's because Transport for London is ignoring its own safety standards? Perhaps it's because London has a mayor happy to go 'scooting down the Euston Underpass' and who considers cycling facilities just there as training for the novice cyclist rather than making cycling be something that's enjoyed, rather than survived? Or perhaps it's because bikes get lights that will never go green because they have to press a button that's been barricaded off? When it comes to bringing change some advocate an 'open source' approach to urbanism, others suggest building a community online. Some, like Copenhagenize, just want a new story for our lives. Pedestrian Liberation has been taking a 'civil obedience' approach and enforcing the law on signs on the pavement when they block the way. Many Londoners think we should become a political force and 'vote with our bikes'. And some - like Biking In LA -find that their own advocacy organisations, so called, have been lobbying against the very things they want.

And are things changing, albeit slowly, after all? For a start, as the Guardian reports, peace breaks out among cycling organisations (though it's sad that this is actually news). Hats off (or chapeau) to the City of London - as opposed to the city, London - for committing to safer streets, while Kennington People on Bikes reports on an interesting plan for Vauxhall Cross. In Manchester, the Middle Aged Cyclist meets acourteous bus driver,shock, though we'll draw a veil over the other driver. Over in the US, in a possible solution to the Hammersmith Flyover closure, 'dismantling urban freeways ... is happening in so many places, it’s like an unspoken national urban policy'.

But 'shifting tectonic plates story of the week' has to go to the plans for TfL's 'radical redesign' of Bow Roundabout which was greeted with a cautious welcom from LCC, Cyclists in the City and i bike london - but as the week wore on and the details became clearer, Over the Hills and Far Away was unimpressed while the grumpy cyclist went from cautiously optimistic to sceptical to, well, grumpy. And meanwhile, the lanes we do have continue to get parked on as Downfader (by way of the 39 stone cyclist) and Karl on Sea discover, while As Easy as Riding a bike finds it's jams today and jams tomorrow in Holland - Holland Road, that is.

The 'shared space' debate on Exhibition Road continues, with a long, but entirely worth all 7000 words of it, post from As Easy as Riding a Bike on when and where it works - like Bordeaux where rising bollards keep traffic out unless they can prove they have a reason to be there. However, This Big City also had a look at Exhibition Road and gave it a cautious thumbs up, despite the traffic.

On the economic side, Tom Vanderbilt reports for the Boston Globe on bringing the market to parking spaces: 'In dense urban areas like Boston, as many as 30% of cars on the street are cruising for parking' - Mary Portas take note - while in the contexts of HS2, but relevant elsewhere, Tim Harford digs into how the Department for Transport values your time (looks like we should all make a point of cycling to business meetings from now on). Which isn't too far fetched: Bike Portland discovers that the city's bike industry is perfectly poised to bring jobs back into the US. George Osborne, take note. In my personal favourite post of the year so far, Cycling Intelligence works out the economics of Brompton ownership - yes, even the version with the titanium forks pays for itself in a couple of years. And if you'd rather lighten the load on the bike than the bike itself, which is cheaper, Karl on Sea proposes a pie-offset trading scheme.

With the recent rain we've had - think your commute's a little damp? you don't know you're born. And while we're on daft solutions to the wrong problem how's this for crazy? Vancouver's proposed helmet rental-and-sanitising machines.

This is satire, right? the MD of Exeter FM blames cyclists for increased emissions due to HIM having to slow down in traffic.

'What kind of wheels do you have?' 'er, round' Bikeyface fends off unwanted gear advice. What to do when someone yells at you from their car? have a little fun...

Photoshopped? Who cares - Happy Friday 13th anyway from Slow Bike Lane, while this is short, sweet, and utterly to the point.

And finally - nothing at all to do with utility cycling, I'm afraid - but a gorgeous, numinous moment on the bike from Key Stakeholder. Enjoy.