The Great Big Spring Forward Bike Blog Roundup

A Numbers Game

It's hard not to feel a little cheery as the days lengthen, and spring arrives with a chance to sample some country courtesy after the grind of the city. Even in Belfast, it feels as if things are changing even if the Giro legacy proves temporary, although it's already left a lasting impression on one Belfast cyclist. Sporting events - and spring - tend to lead to excitable headlines about cycling revolutions, but as the census figures show, they don't happen by themselves (as a glance at the difference between the best and worst performing boroughs reveal); perhaps it's a rebellion not a revolution we need. And it wasn't just the UK looking at the numbers; in California there's been real growth in the numbers not using cars to get around - and it almost feels as if cycling is becoming 'normal' in LA. While Reading rolls out all the usual excuses, The Calgary Herald points out bike counts alone can do litle to predict who would cycle if the conditions were right. Rachel Aldred feels we need the data to put people (and especially children) back into the planning equation

Reclaiming our Cities

One day we'll look back at how we let cars take over our cities and wonder what we were thinking - but fortunately the damage can be repaired, and properly designed cities can make us happy, while if you take away the cars you can take away all the signs and signals too without the dehumanising effect of driving. Portland takes the radical step of studying the impact of roadworks to see whether road capacity can be taken away - while in Philadelphia there's 98% approval over closing a short stretch of road in favour of pedestrians and in Long Beach, a motor race offers something to non-motorised modes before it kicks off. As Portland understands that planning a bike network around a new public transport public makes more sense than trying to shoe-horn it in afterwards, Bicycle Perth wonders whether a bicycle ferry wouldn't solve the problem of traffic congestion there - and in Kansas City, a map reveals the barriers to cycling among all but the most confident.

The Devil in the Details

Removing those barriers means getting the details right, of course. This week it was Cambridge's turn to be under the spotlight with a scheme for segregated lanes that was close to being good, but fell down on the details. Rachel Aldred welcomed a step away from the dual network while others suggested some improvements and the bus company, predictably, was unhappy with the bus stops but it's better than just going into the sides of them. Similar responses could be found to a proposal in Toronto while Maidstone on Bike continues to improve TfL's plans for them. In Ireland, a brand new link road sets new standards in poor provision for road crossings. In Manchester, the newly reopened Central Library is still awaiting its bike racks while Salford's armadillos have been joined by bollards which now have more bollards to protect them. Surfaces came under scrutinty too: as slippery cycle lane surfaces get tackled in Auckland and tactile paving gets examined in Edinburgh, Ranty Highwayman makes sure we all know our hot rolled asphalt from our thermoplastic. And proving that forensic attention to detail is not confined to the infrastructural blog posts, Cycleicious considers whether Sherlock Holmes was wrong about bike wheels...

It's the Economy, Stupid

But why should politicians care what we cyclists think? Sometimes it takes a Republican mayor of a conservative city to make the case for reviving cities by making them fit for people - and Indianapolis is not the only place building a recovery around bikes. Sustrans says investing in sustainable travel is vital to boosing local economies - and bikes could even tackle inequality by channelling money into local businesses (or just providing a handy place for delivery vehicles for local firms). In San Francisco, it's not cars that bring most spending to Polk Street, despite the danger to vulnerable road users, while a pick-your-own farm sees an opportunity to encourage recreational cyclists by using its spare parking capacity. A collaboration between a bike shop and an ad man have been entertaining and educating Portlanders for years. Got a small portfolio of AirBnB rental properties (gosh, doesn't everyone?) - you'll need a cargo bike for that. And as car dealerships are converted into bike shops one Tucson cyclist who may have been single-handedly propping up the local bike economy finally falls foul of S-1 and has to choose between his bikes and his partner (top tip, chaps: don't try and store your overflow bikes in the kitchen if you don't want this to happen to you).

Bike Hire News

With New York's Citibikes suffering losses, many asked why bike share schemes shouldn't be subsidised seeing as all other forms are (and yes, even if they don't own a car cyclists already pay for the roads) - while Brooklyn Spoke considers five reasons why people might object. Amazingly, bike hire does better in places where there are traffic-free places to ride - but at least with Citibike, you no longer have to be Dutch to cycle-walk your dog.


From the global - with the creation of the World Cycling Alliance - to the local, campaigning will be kicking up a gear this year as long as it can avoid the lure of the circular firing squad. Manifiesto looks back at some campaigning hits - and misses in Coventry, while in Edinburgh Spokes heard from Professor Pooley of Understanding Walking and Cycling, while Bikeable Jo is getting ready for Scotland's Cyclehack - perhaps some of BikeloveJones's citizen hacks might fit in with that? If you want to encourage women to cycling you need to step back, listen and learn from them about how bikes can help them with their lives (actually, that probably applies to everyone...) while People for Bikes tries to debunk some hardy perennial bike myths (good luck with that one). In LA, quiet work has built support for protected bikeways on one half of Figueroa - now what about the other half? Momentum Mag meets the woman behind the LA bike trains (among other things) - while 30 days of biking reaches its 5th year.

Health and (subjective) Safety

This week there was commendable international consensus on cycling, with the Chief Medical Officer showing she really gets subjective safety, and the International Transport forum agrees, while Boston doctors can now prescribe subsidised bike share membership. However, for that to work we do have to tackle the 'what it's like' problem and stop pretending that the primary position is where we want to be rather than where we're driven by fear. Having the minister for infrastructure, investment and cities applauding free helmet schemes doesn't really help tackle that - and nor does some green paint suggesting drivers might want to give bikes a little room, nor indeed going tooled up with an impressive array of weaponry. Still, if the worse comes to the worse at least your bike is probably the safest and quickest way to escape a tsunami - and if you're cursing gravity after your last fall, don't be so hasty as it turns out you need it to steer.

Actual Safety

Meanwhile the steady drip of deaths continues - and some of them feel too close for comfort for some, which may be why donations have been flooding in. In America, as California safety data goes on line, the US Department of Transport declines to set any goals for pedestrian and cycle deaths. The New York police are fully committed to Project Zero but have allocated no budget to it - and it would help if speed cameras could actually be switched on for more than a few hours a day - while bike advocates are making victim impact statements in cases where cyclists have been killed. - or the Highways Agency in the UK considered fixing dangerous designs before they caused an accident instead of waiting for a death.

And finally

As Hawaii moves to actually water down legislation on mobile phone use while driving, we need to look back a century or so and consider some properly draconian legislation against motorists - surely something we could all get behind...