The Great Big What Do We Want? Bike Blog Roundup

Saturday's Pedal on Parliament seems to have kicked off the bike campaigning season with families to the fore, unimpressed by the minister's last minute announcement of more money for education - even those without any children yet considered them the reason for attending. The Broughton Spurtle sums up in its own inimitable style. Lynne McNicoll pedestrianed on Parliament (and here's why) as did a bikeless Joel C. Phil Ward was there to get more funding for his own council to prevent half-baked projects. Edinburgh Council leader Andrew Burns enjoyed his day while the feeder ride from Leith has convinced one councillor that improvements need to be made. Denise Marshall became a POP marshal and enjoyed the chance to see the huge variety of the crowd while others were dividing their time betwen POP and Wool against Weapons - the ultimate multitasking (perhaps they should try this?), while PoP and other groups continue to pursue presumed liability.

Space For Cycling

POP may be over but Space For Cycling is just getting into gear. LCC have produced a handy infographic on the benefits of reduced traffic permeability and lower speed limits, while Philip Darnton explains why the Bicycle Association are backing the campaign. Traffik in Tooting is pleased to see local businesses supporting the campaign, although in Islington at least Labour don't seem to get it. Hammersmith and Fulham need your help while Tower Hamlets is having a mayoral hustings on cycling. It's not just London either, with Manchester to take part in the Big Ride plans while the CTC looks at how campaigners in Brighton have implemented contraflow schemes.

And worldwide...

Nor is it just in the UK: they're also biking the vote in LA, while in Portugal they're taking peaceful action to reclaim road space for cycling. The ECF has a manifesto for the European elections, signing up the Irish Finance minister at their AGM, which was held this week in Dublin. That put the spotlight on Dublin's credentials as a cycling city - with campaigners launching promotional videos to try and change the attitudes towards cycling (although at least there are some cute dogs suggesting a growing cycle culture). And perhaps not coincidentally, one of Dublin's worst cycling routes sees some significant improvement although there still could be more done.


Making the case

Meanwhile there are other ways to keep getting the message across - like using Google Streeview's new timeline feature to show people that change is possible, with some before and after shots. You can try actually asking your local motorists what's keeping them in their cars - or asking cyclists how much they spend to make the case to businesses - or just do a spot of guerilla signage. In America, getting Bike Friendly status is boosting investment in some cities, (although spending is still dwarfed by the cost of single intersection) while the fact that young Americans would like to drive less - wherever they live is getting young people more involved in activism.


Even with dedicated campaigning, pretty soon every innovative bike track proposal comes up against the fear of loss of parking - even in Portland. In Montreal they got around this by reframing the way the loss of parking was measured which may be why Montreal manages to be truly bike friendly for a North American city. You could also use Strava to find out where the cyclists (well, some cyclists) are spending money - or point out the positive impact on house prices as things like Boris Bike stations integrate more distant areas into the tube network (that may or may not be a good thing of course). Parking restrictions won't kill an area that's already dead - while the really innovative companies are falling over each other to invest in cycling - even in South Dakota. And for those concerned about losing road space, it turns out that bike tracks cause even less congestion (depending on how you measure it) than previously thought - and that's before you even start looking at moving people, rather than cars. As a result, some politicians are finally getting it, with Memphis leaders building bike projects not because they love bikes but because they love Memphis - something that Canada's and even Edinburgh's politicians are starting to understand - what a shame that the same can't be said for Eric Pickles, or the Scottish Government, who still see cyclists and pedestrians as a constraint on the flow of traffic.

Space for people

It's not all about the bike, of course, with Living Streets' Keith Irving supporting Pedal on Parliament because it should civilise the streets for everybody - good infrastructure can provide independent mobility for the most vulnerable in our society, while hostile streets contribute to social inequality. That's why Newcastle needs to get serious about making its city centre a place for people - and Edinburgh should try and reunite itself properly with its coastline; in contrast urban freeways make even the surrounding streets more hostile for bikes. Sometimes the space is made as a by product of construction work - or even the weather - but sometimes, like Chicago's parklets it's a deliberate act to carve out space for people.

Danger by design

And it's also about drivers too - as Brookly Spoke puts it, badly designed roads don't work for anyone, while good infrastructure promotes rule following rather than the law of the jungle. We can expect a bit more of that in the future - with astoundingly poor cycling facilities created in the Olympic park despite starting from a blank slate - although they have at least quietly created a bypass to a deadly junction (and similar reactive changes have taken place in New York). The 'improvements' and Hoborn Circus are scandalously poor while Maidstone on Bike takes on similar 'improvements' in Tottenham Hale - cycling will never be made mainstream when 'best practice' is itself pretty rubbish - and should we even be luring people into cycling on routes which drop riders out into no man's land?

What's considered dangerous may vary though, with one councillor objecting to a path's priority over a road. In the Netherlands, it might actually be other bikes although to put that into perspective, Dutch cycle fatalities fell significantly in 2013 - the Dutch might be reporting more bike near-misses, but in the UK it's near misses from cars we have to worry about, which is a problem because of their sheer numbers. For those still peddling the myth of the dangers of cycle tracks I Bike Toronto looks into the details. Meanwhile, Northern Ireland's first ever road safety campaign for cycling gets a bit of a fisking from Beyond the Kerb.

Protection please

With David Hembrow looking at whether there's ever a place for on road cycle lanes in the Netherlands, in Eindhoven, they're rearranging their roads to remove a door-zone cycle lane. Meanwhile Salford adds more paint in its ongoing battle to protect its armadillos - Mad Cycle Lanes of Manchester recaps on the story so far (this sort of thing may go some way to explain why increases in cycling in Greater Manchester have been somewhat exaggerated). Maybe a lesson worth passing on to Portland and Tucson which have both gone for some form of 'bendy bollard' - it will be interesting to see how Tucson's five-year guarantee works out on those...


Legal corner

This week's jaw dropping legal story (apart from the bike thief who asked the owner of the bike he'd stolen how to charge it) must be the Canadian driver suing the family of the teen cyclist she killed for her suffering (yes, you read that right) - despite the fact that I didn't see you shouldn't be a get out of jail free card. In Scotland, meanwhile, only one in ten collisions between a car anda bike result in prosecution. This may be because the police seem keener on blaming the victim - or simply making up the rules as they go along (where they aren't breaking them themselves) - but at least if you do need to get away, you'll have no problem outrunning a Portland cycle cop.

Around the world


Meanwhile, spring brings more travellers' tales, with Solihull cyclist discovering the Welsh for 'cyclists dismount' - a sign that's no longer needed on Lllandudno promenade. Further afield Bicycle Perth wonders if he's wandered into the set of the Truman Show - in a place where everything, even school trips take place by bike. The Calgary Herald escapes from the committee meetings to ask every-day cyclists rather than activists what they think of the city's planned bike network. The Guardian considers cycling in Kathmandu a city that could gain a lot if cycling coulds shake off its low-status image. New York is to move its bike-share bikes about by bike (well, trike), while the Dutch consider how to maximise use of park and rides, and in Auckland some of the space on the city's roads is finally being allocated to cycling.

And finally

For those who've ever tired themselves out arguing with people who are wrong on the internet: we can reveal the secret script for dealing with pesky cyclists on a forum, newspaper comment section or the internet... it won't be long before someone writes a bot.