The Great Big Gloves are Off Bike Blog Roundup

As the sainted Chris Boardman lays out the battle lines betwen old men in limos and people on bikes, the Guardian reckons the gloves have come off while Cyclists in the City considers a conflict of interest on the TfL board. Some old men in limos are signing up in droves with more and more big names coming out in support. And as the Guardian considers the case for and against, As Easy as Riding a Bike nails the claim that it will make things worse for pedestrians.

Outlook stormy

But it wasn't just old men in limos who were battling this week. One helmet cam cyclist triggered a spat apparently between cyclists in which nobody exactly covered themselves in glory, whether you consider helmet camera cyclists as vigilantes or just seeking to protect themselves. In Kentucky, a cyclist asserting her right to ride on the road continues to divide opinion even as she continues to refuse to ride on the shoulder, while elsewhwere it would help if it wasn't the police doing the harassing, although at least in San Jose the police know they can take the full lane. Translation issues (and six-lane highways) may be behind Chicago bike share users riding on the pavement - and you've got to understand  why it is that the Dutch can ride 'slow and stately' - and it's not got much to do with Dutch drivers. An interview with a Seattle survivor brings out the human suffering behind the injury statistics while a road-raging teenager gets a taste of life on two wheels. Others have taken their battle to the courts with a pedestrian threatening to sue Sacramento for allowing cyclists to ride on the pavement while a driver in Brooklyn adds insult to injury and sues the cyclist she knocked down for damaging her car - while a driver in Sheffield seems to have decided to take those pesky bikes out at source. But not everyone is at loggerheads - in Pittsburgh, young men are using bikes to combat street violence and shootings.

Gender wars?

After last week's article on why it's chores not traffic that keep women off their bikes, Elly Blue explained why she's car- and child-free, while Streetsblog suggests that teaching women to use cargobikes might be easier than combating the patriarchy, and Treehugger wondered if there should be more research into what enabled those women who do still cycle to cycle - they may want to start with Portlandize. It's not just mothers of course: Cargobike Dad considers why more parents don't cycle with their kids to school in Northern Ireland and BikeWalkLee looks at what makes it possible in Florida (and certainly pregnancy shouldn't stop you from cycling). When it comes to closing the gender gap it would help if lists of bike industry rockstars didn't miss out all the women, but perhaps a female bike courier company or women-only cycling clubs will help - although of course what's really needed is for bike infrastructure to be built with women and children (and, indeed, men) in mind

Building in cycling

As the Dutch continue to gild the lily, the rest of the world was struggling to catch up but Kalamazoo is getting a protected bike track with the help, rather than the hindrance of its state Department of Transport - while the US DOT released its latest guidance for creating safer cycling. In Oregon, researchers are looking for 'fearless' transportation ideas, while Seattle continues to tweak its protected bike lanes after a couple of collisions while the mayor of St Paul suggests an '8-80' fund for the city. San Francisco is to get some Copenhagen-style tracks - at least for a couple of blocks - although a visit to Odense, where people are lured rather than forced out of their cars, suggests they should be called 'Danish style' as they're not confined to Copenhagen - in fact they're even to be found in Essex albeit not as part of any sort of joined-up network, while Glasgow's proposals are even less convincing.

Daft ideas

There's fearless ideas - and then there's daft ones: while we dealt with the floating cycleway idea last week the phrase club sandwich of wrongness meant we just have to give this Citylab article a plug - while Treehugger rounds up those daft ideas in full and the Calgary Herald points out what's wrong with all these proposals. Not that daftness is confined to London, with Katy Bourne, Sussex Police commissioner, who wants cyclists to wear some form of ID, she's just not sure what, or even why.

All politics is local...

Unfortunately, it would appear Ms Bourne is not alone, with local politicians of all stripes failing to cover themselves in glory. In Newcastle they're removing crap cycle lanes instead of improving them, while in Suffolk they've got a cycling strategy that says all the right things except for providing any detail about how to achieve their goals - local cyclists may be able to help as they seem to have plenty of ideas. Plans for Keynsham ignore the real problem of through traffic, while without an overall vision from the council, cycling will continue to be overlooked in Bath. Richmond seems to be doing everything it can to slow down plans for 20mph zones rather than the cars themselves - perhaps they should take a leaf out of one Edinburgh school's book. Cycling Dumfries find gaps in the plans for cycling to a new hospital while Sheffield Cycling comment on the universtiy masterplan. Back in London a quiet route is to be closed for four years with no really good alternative for bikes while Kensington and Chelsea continue to block a cycling superhighway through the borough. IT wasn't all bad news, though, with Copenhagen's bicycle mayor to visit Belfast, in LA, the new chief of the Department of Transport quietly shows up to a meeting, while in Texas the mayor of Fort Worth is tackling obesity one manicure at a time.

... Except when it's national

Chapeau to Girodilento for assembling pretty much every pro-cycling fact and figure in one open letter to the Department for Transport - definitely one to bookmark and borrow from as needed. Meanwhile the CTC is launching its Funding4Cycling campaign, asking for 'at least' £10 per head, while British Cycling is urging members to write to their MPs in support of the Cycling and Walking Delivery Plan. North of the border, Scotland's spending on cycling is clear as mud as usual, but whether it's up or down slightly it's still nowhere near what's needed. At their conference, the Liberal Democrats supported a Green Transport Bill in their manifesto.

Safety matters

Meanwhile, the real consequences of political inaction continue to play themselves out on the streets: in Bow, for instance where the inadequacies of the current arrangement are laid bare in a video, while cyclists crowdsource a map of collisions and near misses. Volvo are promoting their intelligent truck while in New Zealand they're trying to warn cyclists about the dumb ones - and consider what else can be done to stop cyclists dying under their wheels. In America, it's the 12-foot travel lane that's the real killer - but the good news it, it means there's plenty of room to put in bike lanes. Not that any of these things will do you a blind bit of good when magpies or squirrels attack.

Going multimodal

While public transport is generally A Good Thing, Vole O'Speed explains why cycle campaigns should stick to campaigning for cycling. Bike SD agrees that buses and bikes don't mix but in Belfast, they're fighting to keep what little they've got from being overrun by taxis which will delay buses too, while in Christchurch, bikes on buses are a victim of their own success. Spokes considers whether having the Dutch take over Scotrail is a good thing for cycling - perhaps they might want to take over SouthWest Trains while they're at it...

Making places

There was a lot of discussion on placemaking and playful cities particularly in the light of some car-free events: including great photos of what happens when you close LA's streets to traffic and let the bikes (and the odd lion) roam free, something that's been going so long it's happily no longer newsworthy while Malaysia's car free event is also going strong. Portland's experiment with bike tracks and table tennis meets with universal approval even on the call in shows, while Cycle Space suggests we should always dress sharp and break every unwritten rule that makes life convenient only for cars, while big data has proved that Jane Jacobs was right all along (did anyone seriously doubt her?). Of course, while living without a real civic realm can be desperate, we can get a bit carried away with the whole place-making idea. A viaduct with space for bikes and pedestrians as well as cars looks great - but you have to consider what happens underneath and it certainly isn't 'place' while ignoring movement won't turn a cross roads into a place; even Ashford is having to make its shared space a bit less shared.

What gets measured...


As bike counters make bikes count, as do videos, one advocate suggests that we shouldn't ignore recreational cycling (or undercount ethnic minorities) - or discount those who put their bikes on the roof of their car. And at least one Portland business has found that, when it comes to profits cyclists count too - if only because they take up so much less space than cars (which means Edinburgh can get far more for its bike parking permits than it charges cars to park. Sadly, nobody told some Ottawa businesses who have objected to a bike corrall - perhaps they need to open a donut shop?

Health and cycling

As someone's who's currently off the bike after an operation, this story held unusual resonance for me (and do I get a free bike when it's all over?) but it was also good to learn this week that there is life and cycling after a disabling stroke, and that Parkinsons shouldn't stop you from cycling across the US, nor an autoimmune disorder keep you from a career in cycling. Links between traffic pollution and childhood obesity suggest getting space for cycling is more important than ever, and for those beginning to struggle with the winter commute here are some tips which are much more about your mental health than the usual winter cycling suggestions.

Views from elsewhere

If winter's really getting you down, of course, you could try bike commuting in Madagascar - and there were plenty of other views from abroad, from Euromonitor considering the rise of new cycling cities in Europe to a still very car-dominated Stockholm. Latvian cyclists take matters into their own hands when it comes to taking spae for cycling while Bucharest is building cycle tracks and bike parking. In Toronto, a bike lane gets a little bit better but in Beverley Hills they just seem to fade away...


And finally

Last week we had dispatches from the New Forest's lack of desire to spend money on cycling, could this be the most appropriate riposte? While there's really only one way to liberate a Dutch town: by bike.