The Great Big Big Ride Bike Blog Roundup

I hope everyone who could make it managed to attend one of the big rides taking place around the country - with reports already in from London (with the view from South London too), Newcastle, Manchester and Bristol. Mark Bikes London had some top tips for the day while the Ranty Highwayman let the pictures do the talking; stand by for more reports next week as the UK's army of bike bloggers catch up with themselves. There was also a ride in support of better provision on the A10 - with a report from the CTC. And if that all sounds too serious for you, Saturday was also bike to shop day, in Silicon Valley at least...

Sadly, there was another fatality at the Elephant and Castle - no wonder Buffalo Bill is weary of meeting dead strangers - and there will be a 'draw-in and die-in on Wednesday to create a guerilla bike lane. Perhaps we may also need an annual blessing of the bikes and recruit divine assistance to keep us safe on the roads

Political responses

At the end of the day, of course, it's politicians that will give us the conditions for safe cycling, hence the Space for Cycling campaign in the run up to the election - and one third of London's council candidates have signed up in support - while Leeds is getting some responses in for theirs. Cycle Sheffield has some issues to take up at the city's next cycle forum, while in the aftermath of Pedal on Parliament, MSP Claudia Beamish wants to see 'support' for cycling turned into action. Interestingly, the wider public aren't too averse to more funding for cyling as long as we fix the potholes first (the Dutch are ahead of us there as well, the bastards). Across Europe, a pan-European cycle promotion master plan is in the offing, while MEP candidates are signing up to bike-friendly policies - except the UK ones, of course. They should be ashamed of themselves says Chris Boardman, while the CTC and LCC

Meanwhile, in the US, with Friday being Bike to Work day in the US there was plenty of political interest including Brooklyn's Streets PAC ride on city hall in support of Vision Zero; while council candidates put in an appearance in San Jose and a mayor and an ex mayor joined forces in Wisconsin. Bike Pittsburgh have been talking to their gubernatorial candidates but in Toronto it seems like the politicians are going for the anti cycling vote instead. At least he's honest: after a curious attempt to 'balance' public debate at a community meeting, Flying Pigeon warns us not to believe those pre-election promises from politicians. Still, things are looking up somewhat in the US with a federal bill that will increase cycle funding inching forward and US states dedicating more of their own money to infrastructure. In Texas they even hold their town hall meetings on bikes - while in Seattle they're not only asking people what they think about walking and cycling conditions, they're buying them a free coffee too. Here's hoping that catches on round here (just asking what we think would be an improvement...)

Tackling the School Run

With both Living Streets and Sustrans looking at the stress of the school run - in light of a survey that found more than 40% of parents had experienced a near miss (but then again in Chicago, 26 injuries to cyclists and pedestrians right by a school are no big deal apparently) it was a good week to attempt to live a typical suburban life without a car - despite lacking space for cycling on the way to school - and also suffering from 'car brain' (but never fear the neuroscientists are on the case). Bringing up kids car free is easier if you have the right environment but the streets needs to be forgiving for kids to cycle safely (actually that goes for adults too), while if you're putting your baby in a bike seat make sure you mount it the right way round.

Barriers to Cycling

So how can we help families and others overcome the barriers to cycling? Sometimes they're not just the ones we think they are - and bottom slapping and street harassment definitely don't help - although it's generally the infrastructure that holds women back. The Guardian is using Google street view to identify failings - but the crumbs of funding on offer won't even begin to address the barriers across the country (if you want to know what the various options cost this handy infographic lays them out albeit in US terms). Meanwhile the US Environmental Protection Agency is to close its employee bike room while Tokyo is cracking down on illegally parked bikes, but it's the elderly cyclist who will suffer.

The Conditions for Cycling

Sometimes it's more helpful to turn the question on its head and look at some of the things that have made cycling better, in Belfast anyway. Like the elimination of through traffic in one part of Hackney - even though there's still no space for cycling on the A10 - or a road in Vancouver transformed so its fit for family cycling. Even in the Netherlands, cycling can be 'fragile' so roadworks take cycling into account and even the apartment blocks have wheeling ramps for bikes. Oakland tries a separated protected bike lane but it's only for a day - which is a shame because done properly, they can be a permanent advert to drivers to encourage them to cycle (and better than these scary looking turn boxes Washington is planning). The Wash Cycle discovers the ultimate separated cycle route, complete with its own trike, but a Chicago suburb gives with one hand and takes with the other - planning protected bike lanes but also contemplating cycling bans on other roads.

Token efforts

Sometimes of course the investment is merely token - like painted green squares or shared paths so narrow they end up causing accidents. People for Bikes considers how to squeeze in a protected bike lane when there's no room for anything wider, while Hammersmith and Fulham Cyclists wonder what you think of the new markings on Hammersmith Bridge. In Toronto, insufficent bollards protecting one lane just seem to invite parked cars - while Pedaller is chasing up whether there's been any investment in protected space at all in Hampshire.

More Data Please

American bloggers were continuing to digest the US census data this week, with the Wash Cycle trying to account for multi-modal commuters - those who can find a place to park their bikes, anyway. In Edinburgh, Spokes' traffic count found bikes up and cars down again - is it time for some bold moves in the city? (and if you're wondering where all the cars are going wonder no more). Portland was indulging in a little soul searching having lost more than just a bike mural, but its way. Bike Portland asked what it can do to get its mojo back while Rebel Metropolis found much still to celebrate. Perhaps it should look to the smaller cities which are leading the way Meanwhile, the sprawling US suburbs don't even work on their own terms, for drivers; in the denser city centres cities from Portland to Chicago are limiting residents' parking for high rise buildings.

Benefits of cycling

Despite one US TV station epically failing to get the point of bike to work day, it seems the American mainstream media have at least understood that America needs bikes more than ever. In Canada too Calgary's business leaders understand that a cycle network helps to sell the city while Portland employers are told that more cycling saves them and the city money. Ireland plans to invest €10 million on grenways - and expects at least eighty new jobs created as a result while bike touring could save small town America - although you do have to remember that the tourism part is as important as the bikes - it's something Majorca understands while, say Bury St. Edmunds does not. Those businesses that fought to preserve parking over bike tracks are discovering their mistake in Indianapolis - while Paris's partial car ban did cut pollution - even just for a single day. And the benefits are personal too - Movementsci goes into the science behind the saying that your sofa is more dangerous than your bike and looks at how it works and the real death toll from inactivity - while old cyclists may die after all, but if they don't they'll keep on walking like a 20-year-old.


None of which stops the global bikelash continuing, from a cyclist in Scunthorpe failing to break the law and makes the local paper, to a Bristol driver not breaking the law either running over someone's foot, apparently. Beirut joins the modern world with its first bike path shortly followed by its first bike path controversy while even cyclists are quick to point the finger when the bike in question is a recumbent.

And finally

We ponder the ultimate question - is the answer to road rage a big hug from Russell Brand? We prefer to cycle everywhere with our very own guard cat - which seems like it might be more use than the Washington police


Sheffield's Big Ride was brill, with 240 people taking part, and a real party atmosphere, as you can see on Matt's blog here -