The Great Big Why Have We Not All Moved to Groningen Yet Bike Blog Roundup

This week saw Groningen dubbed the world's cycling city by Streetfilms, with David Hembrow on hand to fill in some of the details, and prompting ibikelondon to remember a great visit - and the rest of us to pack our bags for the Netherlands, with reports from Cycling in Dublin who saw lots for Dublin to learn, from Mad Cycle Lanes of Manchester who was suprised at the size of some of the roads, and from Cycling Christchurch who felt there was still more to do (they're a tough crowd in New Zealand), while Bicycle Dutch invited us just to sit back, relax and enjoy the morning rush hour in Utrecht.

So how are we to acheive some of this for ourselves? Well we need to embrace a mix of transport modes if we want to bring in Dutch-style cycling, we should be capturing people's imagination with visions of bike utopias. While a solid bicycle plan is a good start - certainly better than not having one at all we should maybe implement more than 4% of the old one before starting a new one (and it doesn't help if ideas languish for 30 years without being taken up). Perhaps we need a 'Streets and People' department instead of a 'Highways and Roads' one (or at least one that hasn't gone rogue). Gehl associates looks at the mass of data behind their planning - but it doesn't help if councils can't project higher cycling levels in their plans than already exist, even though some parts of the country have seen three fold rises in cycling - no wonder we end up with the risk of bike traffic jams

Some political will helps too, but with Norman Baker replaced as transport minister it still doesn't seem clear who's taking on his cycling brief, suggesting it's less than the highest priority in the UK, while the Labour reshuffle affected the shadow minister too. Still, at least Bristol's new Mayor still has his priorities right when it comes to his parking space - and the Prime minister has called for a review of sentences for driving offences. In America, mayors are busy using bikes to improve their cities, and winning support even among non-cyclists, triggering some furious back-pedalling in both New York and Seattle. And while the Political Wing of the car users claims victory in Morpeth, in Calgary cycling groups are uniting with others to press for common issues, in Australia they've just gone ahead and formed a Cyclists Party - perhaps compulsory cycling could be their first policy?

Meanwhile the TfL juggernaut trundles on out in zone 3, where cycling is ignored - and the local boroughs are no even worse, with Kensington and Chelsea blocking plans for segregation on Kensington High Street because it might reduce traffic flows and plans for Shepherd's Bush town centre are not compatible with the mayor's vision. The end result is a mish mash of confused (and confusing) provision, at least in North London. And in Leicester, the new separated cycle track won't get so much as an armadillo (contrast with what's going on in Portland) too keep it from turning into a parking lane. Of course there's still an argument that dedicated space for cycling will simply make things worse for pedestrians and buses - although that doesn't answer the question of what to do when the bike lane runs out (as the 'take the lane' debate succumbs to Godwin's Law. Meanwhile in the 'be careful what you wish for' department, Americans discover roundabouts are more efficient than 4-way stops, for traffic, anyway - they weren't must use for this Australian cyclist while in Cambridge, plans for a roundabout look likely to make it even worse - and the Urbanist wonders if scooters mightn't be the answer to our cities' problems.

When we talk about cycling for everyone, we mean everyone - including the learning disabled and the visually impaired. Victoria White argues powerfully that a car-based society takes away the personhood of those, like her son, who will never be able to drive. Vole O'Speed urges LCC members to support his motion on the uniformity of cycling provision, suitable for everyone. Meanwhile, the needs of cyclists and those with disabilities shouldn't be put into opposition (and nor should the needs of cyclists and newts - and nor should a driver being late trump the need of a six-year-old to get to school safely on her bike. 'Everyone' also includes women in Egypt who want to get about without harrassment - and even Olympians cycling to work. Sadly though, in the UK, cyclists are not yet everyone - even in Glasgow where 50% of households don't own a car. Still, with America celebrating bike and walk to school day, one kid sums up what we all think: why not every day? After all, bike seats have been with us for well over 100 years - and kids on bikes are also the cutest thing ever...

This week also seemed to see a bid by US police forces to lose any shred of credit among cyclists, with a New York police chief shrugging off traffic casualties while his force concentrates on tinted windows rather than speeding, and opposing crash maps on the grounds that the public might misunderstand them. It wasn't confined to New York either, with San Francisco police going out of their way to be unhelpful, and police in Maryland having to be told about their own state's passing law - perhaps they should be issued with these handy t-shirts. It made our own dear police seem almost benign, even when cracking down on pavement cycling. And given that it's motorists who are breaking the law, if your local police won't help you slow traffic, here are some ideas of how you can do it yourself. In fact, there was even some good news with London bike thefts down (we'll be like Singapore next - and some of the UK's least successful criminal masterminds nicked.

Meanwhile the economic evidence continues to stack up with entrepreneurs (well, one entrpreneur) actively looking for good cycling infrastructure when considering locations, bike lanes boosing land values and demand for parking in commercial premises surprisingly low in Portland. One report showed the potential for bikes to shift city freight while in San Francisco street improvements are going private. The Bike to Work challenge has converted one large American employer - perhaps because they know cyclists make better employees. Yet here in the UK, despite a few cargo bike schemes, our government subsidises e-cars but not e-bikes, Westfield shopping centre offers little for cycling, and a temporary supermarket misses an opportunity to nudge people towards cycling in Vauxhall. Don't they understand the practicality of short bike trips - as long as you've got the right bike, and a kickstand....

In Portland, one cyclist asks how to convince someone that cycling is safe after their second right hook incident in 5 months (something that not even Copenhagen is immune to). Well, you could argue that for them maybe it isn't - (although it's still safer than smoking) although sometimes an accident can be the trigger for some to take up campaigning. A national US study is looking at the effectiveness of bike lanes, as the Federal government prepares to endorse the safety of separate bike lanes - certainly more effective than helmet compulsion has proved to be. Here in the UK a jury fails to reach a verdict after a prosecution of health and safety grounds while Chester cycling argues that there's nothing wrong with beign an incompetent driver - you just shouldn't be allowed to drive, that's all. And while Carlton Reid argues that removing the 'nut behind the wheel' might make things safer for cyclists, the EU have no plans to rate existing cyclist avoidance systems in cars.

Six years after he left the UK, David Hembrow still tenses when he hears a car horn - although at least he doesn't live in Toronto where calling for cyclists to be shot is just an exercise in free speech (although at least cyclists don't have to deal with the worst of Toronto's traffic). While we need to pay everyone the most basic respect of not killing them, do we also need to raise the 'motorist' problem (oh and stop talking about the 'right' and 'wrong' kinds of cyclist)? Or do we perhaps just need a new hand signal? As plans for a Woonerf in Chicago are put at risk by parking concerns from residents who don't even live in that road, elsewhere in the US cyclists are to be banned from riding downhill on a scenic route - while in Georgia lawmakers respond to increasing numbers cycling by trying to restrict it and then back down in the face of 100s of angry voters. And with Surrey residents invited to join a live cycling debate, the LA Times suggests if you want to become a better driver you should ride a bike - and after talk of banning cyclists last week, another city in India is looking to encourage them. And as we're keeping things positive these days, don't forget that cycling makes you healthier, can change your attitudes, help you spot free books - and even become part of a bike-borne love story coming to a cinema near you.

Here in the UK it was small victory week with the Edinburgh planning committee taking an easier line on bike storage in front gardens, some bus lanes in Sheffield saved until alternative bike routes can be found, and some slightly wider cycle lanes put in. Both Ely Cycling and Sustrans make the case for cycling investment, even if you don't personally cycle. Green MSP Alison Johnstone takes time out from the Green Party conference to meet the Highland Cycle Campaign. Richmond CC is using Cyclescape to map out issues around the borough. And a ride over the Buttertubs Pass leaves Dave Horton wondering if the Tour de France will leave Yorkshire - and cycling - better or worse off.

Further afield, Newcycling reports from Hungary's 'inland sea', while Portland holds lessons for LA and >New York has lessons for Auckland. Copenhagenize suggests using desire lines to fix a contested space in Copenhagen while in Tokyo they're experimenting with moving cyclists off the pavement with guidelines. Half of Ireland's daily trips are less than 3km - and half of those are still made by car. Christchurch is to get a cycle route to the sea, funded by some of the Earthquake Appeal Fund. And when it comes to walkability America is making changes - while Americans know they should walk but don't have the space to do it, Atlanta is moving away from sprawl (and has some cool biking women to boot) and even Las Vegas is considering what it would take to make itself walkable.

And finally, with the news that York is to get itself a bike hire scheme, a small town in Alberta has to suspend its bike share programme ... after its sole bike goes missing...