The Great Big Merrily Motorway Cycling Bike Blog Roundup

With the news this week of the cyclist found 'merrily cycling' along the M25 - and fortunately for his own safety escorted onto the much more bike friendly A30, the question arises as to who the real idiots are - those who cycle along motorways or those who put narrow cycle lanes on what are all but motorways - and then leave cyclists with almost no alternative but to use them (a piece of idiocy not confined to the UK)

Going Dutch

So what are the alternatives? Well Bristol is getting a 'Dutch-style' cycleway that may actually be a little bit Dutch (and if you're wondering if a two-directional cycle track is very Dutch, the answer is it depends) - all 700 metres of it - while Cambridge is consulting on options for segregated lanes. Car Sick Glasgow looks at what happens when a protected lane gets to a junction (hint - it's not very dutch). Southampton's new 'dutch style' - now downgraded to a 'continental style' - junction sees a hit and run of a cyclist within days but the council is satisfied that as long as you watch the instructional video you will be fine (and Edinburgh is trying the same approach with its trams) - and it was already a dangerous junction to begin with. With designs like this, and turbogate, some people are beginning to wonder what is being done in their name - while the People's Cycling Front looks at the root causes - poor design standards and over-tight timescales (although there's also a case to be made for not announcing the same bike lane plans year after year afer year). Meanwhile Salford's Armadillos (or 'recycled plastic doodads' as they shall henceforth be known) continue to suffer, and the Dutch struggle with their greatest enemy to cycling - the wind.

Going 'London'

With something that looks suspiciously like the old design of London Cycle Superhighways appearing in San Francisco, we wonder if anyone will ever dream of 'Going London'? Certainly Boris doesn't appear to be convinced by his own 'vision' and still feels they were the way to go, but at least more money is to be spent ripping out gyratories and replacing them with more space for cycling. The initial plans are apparently 'not bad', but the real question is when this will happen - while the timing of its announcement suggests we're a long way from joined-up thinking. Rachel Aldred looks to the experience of other campaigners and the lessons of our motor-centric past, while Living Streets hopes that the needs of pedestrians will not be overlooked. Meanwhile 80% of London cyclists are concerned about safety - and a first look at the plans for CS5 suggest the words 'direct and convenient' haven't really made much of an impression on the planners.

Going Scottish

Meanwhile, north of the border, the government's flagship cycling policy, Bikeability training, is suffering from a postcode lottery - but then again, with all the training in the world, this Edinburgh bike lane isn't fit for purpose as Edinburgh isn't so much creating Space for cycling as space for parking (oddly enough, this isn't the reason why Edinburgh's cycling 'tsar' has has resigned). Yet there is plenty of space if you use it right and the benefits are huge - so why aren't the authorities in Scotland doing more? Campaigns like Pedal on Parliament may be having an impact - on budgets at least - and if you want to join in you don't even need to come on a bike.

The Numbers Game

Scotland's figures for cycling may be barely stagnating, but elsewhere despite another year of falling traffic in the US, modellers are resisiting the idea of peak traffic. Certainly in the UK we seem to be building for the wrong mode of transport - the Road Danger Reduction Forum sends in its response. Meanwhile some states are adjusting to the fact that there isn't going to be a return to fast traffic growth - while even for sceptics, the idea that we'll need to build huge roads everywhere if we don't start getting people out of cars is more compelling than anything else. However, if you don't give your transport department the right metrics you won't get anywhere - how about aiming for a 20% year-on-year increase in cycling traffic - as seen on some Dublin routes?

Meet the All-Powerful Bike Lobby

Over in the US, the nominees for the advocate of the year are announced, confirming that the bike lobby is increasingly female over there - Biking in LA can't choose between two of them, (while over here the cycle rail working group wins an award for doubling cycle provision at stations). Meanwhile Bike Portland looks forward to the US National Bike Summit this week - the Secretary of Transportation will be there - while the Bike League considers what the 'ask' is for all this lobbying - there are two bills in consideration that could further active transportation in the United States. Meanwhile at a local level Seattle is holding a 'policy ride' planned with elected officials and cycling groups - or you can join in on transportation advocacy day. In Paris, Copenhagenize looks at one of the front-runners to be the next mayor, while Transitized considers what the city is like to cycle in now.

Mass Cycling

So how are we all to move towards true mass cycling? Ellie Blue learns some lessons from the World Bicycle Forum in Brazil while Angela van der Kloof points to the influence of car-free Sundays on the Dutch in the 70s and Urban Adonia considers how we can reach out to everyone. Lancaster Dynamo certainly get out from behind their screens to campaign for a better route the cold, hard way, while Leeds is launching its Space for Cycling campaign (and there are similar efforts gearing up for local elections in Ireland) - and if you get that first win then campaigns can really build momentum.

Valuing Cycling

For that, of course, we have to start valuing cycling properly. Even with their high cycling levels already, the Dutch find it's worth spending 2 million euros improving a bike route that surpasses almost anything in the UK - and expect to see a fourfold return (Bikes in Newcastle enjoys an expensive path in Australia that looks a bit like the old one being superceded) - while Transport for London are expecting £250 million in health benefits from increasing cycling - if nothing else the reduced wear and tear from bikes over cars should make the case. And yet signs continue that cycling and walking aren't really valued - from Leeds councillors preferring to keep their generous car allowances rather than spending more on cycling - to Portland's 'greenways' programme falling victim to a spending crunch and California lowering fuel taxes. In Europe, cities could do more to encourage freight movement by bike while Malta prefers to subsidise electric cars over electric bikes. And businesses everywhere would do well to remember that some of their customers may also be cyclists when they turn to social media.

A Snowstorm short of a Sneckdown

The last few weeks have been all about the 'sneckdown' - but what if you don't have enough snow? Well you could try flour (or indeed, just try closing some road space) or you could try gravel (or a big digger) or even a 'poonami' to see just how much traffic capacity is really needed - it's a lot less long winded than going the official route. Streetsblog looks at how walking was designed out of the suburbs while Pittsburgh closes a dangerous road and reopens it as a cycling and walking route instead. In Calgary, a proposed cycle track is delayed so the Calgary Herald considers designing an alternative network, while the CTC considers making England and Wales's network of rights of way more welcoming to cyclists.

Design matters

With the All-Party cycling group wanting to know which junctions need improving for cyclists, Mr Happy Cyclist has an easy answer and &bike isn't hopeful that there will be any progress. In Glasgow an over-engineered contraflow actually makes it largely unusable while plans in Ipswich would make things worse for pedestrians and cyclists - Shaun McDonald sends in his response. In Coventry, there are slight improvements to a convoluted crossing - but it would probably still qualify as bad performance art. And further afield, Missourk considers the reasons communities adopt complete streets policies and how best to support them, while Cycling Christchurch considers what cycling in the city is like for even the enthused but concerned.

Bike Parking

It seems even bike racks can be contentious - with one disguised as a car making a political statement - while metaphorical dinosaurs get 'traffic calming' dinosaur bike racks removed in Long Beach. As opponenets try and blame double parking on bike lanes, in Copenhagen the hot issue is where to park your cargo bike securely - and in the Netherlands where to park your bike full stop - compare and contrast with even the best provision at supermarkets in Glasgow.

Health and Safety

With the health benefits of cycling not confined to the young - especially not when your first aider is speeding to you by bike, safety is still a concern. The Economist considers how Sweden halved traffic deaths with its 'vision zero' plan - while New York's police may not be quite with the programme yet. A hairy month makes Magnatom wonder if drivers even know how to drive around bikes while Cycling in Heels resents being told to stay back. Sadly, it seems even traffic fatalities aren't colour blind, in America anyway, while in New Zealand it may be helmet laws (or the lack of safety they imply) that put women off cycling - perhaps a little road warrior armour might help? (then again, perhaps not...). As Google lobbies for driving with Google Glass to be legal, California establishes that it's okay to use your phone while driving as long as you're not using it as a phone - but also proposes a vulnerable road user law, while in Maryland there are moves to amend the law so that cyclists won't be penalised in a collision as long as they were following the actual rules of the road (and not, say, any made up ones in the judge's head) while anyone raised in the 'anglo saxon world' should probably look away now lest they see any happy people cycling without helmets.

And finally

We've got almost all the way to the end without mentioning that programme - but it seems that anti-cycling stereotypes are held by even the most erudite of commentators (although, in Wisconsin at least, cyclists are far, very very far, from being all granola-munching vegan hippies while the Netherlands olympic squad in Sochi did everything they could to conform to Dutch stereotype). We expect there will be much digital ink spilled on Top Gear in the coming week but we rather hope that this will be the last word and we can talk about something more interesting instead...