The Great Big it's Really not that Complicated Bike Blog Roundup

This week saw Transport for London unveil its latest attempt at a Dutch-style roundabout, leaving most people wondering why they were doing something so complicated (spoiler alert: the answer is "traffic flow" - despite the fact that 1/3 of that traffic is bikes) - when there's a much simpler solution that even the Americans can see is better. Meanwhile, Reading Council puts a bike lane in the door zone and tells cyclists not to use it, while the Americans try angled parking or even swapping car parking spaces for motorbikes - anything except the simple and obvious solution of creating a parking-protected bike lane. So why don't we just copy and paste what works (whether it's Danish or Dutch) - the sort of approach that brings about real mass cycling? Could it be that the Copenhagen model won't work everywhere? Or that we've got an 80-year legacy of battling against our own interests?

What does work

It makes common sense that if you fix the roads there won't be any pavement cycling - and there will be more cycling overall (while if you leave people with baffling instructions and a lane that just ends or send cyclists up a flight of steps, it's not so effective). Fortunately we don't have to go far to see what does work - decent crossings for a start (and if a particular piece of Dutch infrastructure doesn't work for you, don't worry, they'll upgrade it soon). Or if we don't trust those wily continentals, why not look to Seattle with its 'Smurf-turd-protected' bike lanes (you can keep your poxy armadillos) or San Francisco, which is getting a raised and buffered bikeway - cycle tracks are now as American as pizza (if only they could become as British as balti...). New Zealand is beginning to work it out, too, simplifying a busy junction rather than complicating things. And as the Americans work out how to turn complete streets policies into actual streets, cities across the US are updating their design manuals.

Feeling consulted yet?

Sometimes it feels as if cycle campaigning is nothing but responding to consultations - but you can wonder why you bother when the response seems to be to make a bad plan even worse as has happened at the Elephant and Castle where the dual network means we continue not to cater for anyone properly. Up in Newcastle, plans for the Great North Road don't appear to have improved much - but top marks to East Dunbartonshire for not only improving things post consultation but showing its working as well - while Seattle takes its consultations to the streets (complete with free coffee). And if you've ever wondered how something could have 'passed its road safety audit', Ranty Highwayman is at hand, with everything you ever wanted to know about them (including the fact that they don't 'pass' schemes).


Perhaps, rather than consultation, we need to be providing inspiration, with a couple of bloggers taking matters into their own hands: Car Sick Glasgow gives Glasgow's car-sickest place a people friendly makeover while Cargobike Dad dreams up a greenway for Greater Belfast and Tufnell Park cycles wonders whether better conditions for cycling might prove a more lasting legacy than rail-replacement buses. The Dutch and Danish Cyclists federations will be co-hosting a workshop on influencing local and regional decision making, while Portland cyclists consider the need for a more assertive cycle campaign - but for one mayor, it was having her city named one of America's worst cities for cycling that spurred her into action. So how do you go about building a bike-friendly city? Well, besides copying Utrecht, it helps to have a full time bike co-ordinator, you can sign your city up to World Car Free Day next month, you can quickly put in a temporary bike lane during construction works (or, if you're New York, just not bother), and you can follow Tucson and - remarkably - react to expected traffic congestion by closing a route to cars while leaving it open to bikes and streetcars.

How can we bike when our streets are burning?

But is talking about bikes at a time like this just fiddling while Rome (or Ferguson) burns? Or can bike events tackle social justice issues - just as Detroit's 'slow roll' is being the change it wants to see? Many of the reasons why minorities don't bike are because poorer neighbourhoods are even more hostile to cycling (and further from jobs) than others - although groups like Black Girls do Bike can also help (and women generally are key to Scotland becoming a cycling nation). Cycling tackles other issues too - not only is it official that cycling to work makes you thinner but for many it's the only means to mobility - and nor should deafness be an impediment.

Back to school

With schools either back or going back, new blogger Boy Plus Bike wonders why schools are ladening pupils with restrictions rather than encouraging them to cycle (although it could be worse) - all signs that we've got a long way to go before riding a bike seems like a normal activity in the UK. There are signs of change though - from the rise of the cargo bike in Vancouver to the first informal mom-bike summit in Philadelphia to the spread of Kiddical Mass in the US (complete with free ice cream bike ... how jealous are we?)

On the buses, trains, etc...

Meanwhile, as Americas consider adding bikes alongside railways, here in the UK it seems they are still pondering bike parking at one train station, while on Cambridge's guided busway those pesky cyclists have been caught pretending to be buses in order to get a green light (so much for 'cyclists all run red lights, eh?). And while it's an article of faith that floating bus stops don't cause mayhem with bus passengers, the Danes are still taking steps to avoid it with a new campaign. Meanwhile in Madrid you can avoid the bus altogether with the city's all-electric bike share scheme.

Politics as usual

It's been a quiet week for politics, although it's good to know that it's not just our politicians that like to reannounce old money for cycling as if it were new. Meanwhile in America cycling doesn't cross the party divide - which seems more and more entrenched over there, even as the old east-west divide is converted into a cycle route. In Pittsburgh, they consider whether safe passing laws really make it any safer for cyclists - while here in the UK we seem to have gone backwards over pavement parking.


As New York finds a novel, if slightly sneaky, way to make cyclists pay, elsewhere cyclists' value to the economy is more indirect, from a couple of high tech companies in Philadelphia and Austin (not sure about their bikeshare app idea - but at least it's better than this gadget). In Seattle, businesses are divided over pushing for a bike corral while Utrecht's sea of bicycles is endlessly replenished, however much bike parking they build, and Cycling Dumfries is forced to improvise at the local hospital.

And finally

We end with two heartwarming crime-related tales - no, really - from the note so pathetic the owner got their stolen bike back - to a scheme that means criminals are actually putting bikes back into the community instead of taking them away. Whether bike thieves are included in the scheme, we don't know but we think it would be poetic justice if they were