The Great Big Strategic Enough For You? Bike Blog Roundup

It seems to have been a week of strategies and plans this week, but it has also been a week of remembrance - and not just of cyclists in war but the World Day of Remembrance for Road Traffic Victims with events and services around the country. Stop the Killing held a funeral procession down Oxford Street, bringing Oxford Circus to a standstill, followed by speeches from those affected - Ranty Highwayman was there, while for the Alternative Department for Transport it highlighted the need for a bus reporting system as well as for trains. Elsewhere, Tower Hamlet Wheelers marked the third anniversary of Svitlana Tereschenko's death . Across the globe road safety campaigns from New Zealand to America continue to ask road users to be nice to each other in various inventive ways, while the Road Danger Reduction Forum explains what could possibly be wrong with Road Safety Week and Brake responds to its concerns.

The big picture

So how are our politicians responding to these issues? Seemingly with a rash of strategies, starting with the Department For Transport's Cycling Delivery Plan, or Cycling Derisory Plan, as the CTC have dubbed it. With consultation due to close last week, the Embassy has called weak and inconsistent, Kennington People on Bikes reckons a little historical context (including all the past missed targets and unfulfilled strategies) might be helpful, Leeds Cycle Campaign have also responded, while Ely Cycle sat through the whole DfT webchat so you don't have to (and the good news is, the consultation period has been extended so you can join in too).

The DfT's writ doesn't run in Northern Ireland, but it has a draft strategy of its own - NI Greenways hopes that the dreaded dual provision might be quietly dropped, among other improvements (and even in November, Belfast's bike racks are overflowing albeit possibly because there aren't that many of them). In London, TfL presses on with its plans, laying out a timetable for future superhighways, consulting on turning Silicon Roundabout into a u-bend and Vauxhall Cross into something more people friendly. Nor is London alone: Lancaster Dynamo has some ideas for Lancaster's proposed strategic cycling network, Spokes looks at cycling plans across the Lothians, while Bolton's last strategic plan doesn't appear to have made any difference - perhaps we should hand over the whole process to Jon Snow? Nor was the stratgising confined to the UK with Calgary unveiling its plans for separated bike lanes, the Philadelphia Bike Coalition looking for input on its Better Mobility plan, Singapore's National Cycling Plan getting a big endorsement from its Prime Minister and even Istanbul considering bike lanes, among other measures.

Unstrategy stuff

Meanwhile, in some areas, councils seem determined to think as unstrategically as possible. Even Bristol, current poster child among British cities is still putting in pointless bike lanes and getting cold feet over 20mph limits, although it has plenty of room to put in cycle tracks if it wanted to. In Glasgow - where everything is for the best in the best of all possible worlds - paths get closed without warning while builders continue to obstruct pavements and cycle lanes at will. Plans in Leeds and in Coventry show little ambition for cycling, while Sheffield seems positively obstructive with plans to demolish a greenway bridge and close a tow path for nine months. In Richmond, cycle lanes fade away while the council should go back to the drawing board with its plans for a roundabout, and in Basingstoke, far from 'cycle proofing' a junction, the DfT is making a roundabout too dangerous for any cycling provision at all. However the DfT did bring about one rare moment of agreement when it told the New Forest to give back its cycling cash if it wasn't going to use it properly - is this the first time that the CTC and the People's Cycling Front of South Gloucestershire have agreed on anything, let alone with the DfT?

Little things

Of course, strategies are all very well, but sometimes it's the little things that matter - from a nicely dropped kerb to a a Copenhagen-style 'leaning rail', to a 300 metre path that avoids some motorway slip roads. Even plans for a 'micro network' (that's two whole streets) can be encouraging when you're in LA, while a year-old access to a bike trail has already proved so popular in Wisconsin that plans to push a road through it have to be put on hold. Getting the little things wrong can also be a significant barrier, from totally inadequate bike parking at a recently refurbished railway station, to removing bike racks on buses to just the lack of wayfinding that can reduce a trip to see a friend into a miserable experience lost in the rain.

Designing for everyone

One continuing theme is the need to design for everyone - so that cargo bikes can be for cargo, not for kids, and you get independent and happy children in city centres (whereas here even walking to school with a parent they are at risk) - no wonder parents are becoming increasingly vocal campaigners. Oxford's Frideswide Square shows how two-tier provision ends up just squeezing out cycling despite the city's large and diverse (at least for the UK) cycling population - whereas making space for truly inclusive cycling would be fairer in our car-dependent world. For those who can no longer pedal themselves Cycling Without Age can be an incredible gift - just remember that not all older people need any help. Meanwhile, Portland's diverse bikes put a carshare bike rack to the test while Shaun McDonald considers what 'Think Horse' really would mean for cyclists - and it seems that Massachusetts' impressive highway design guidelines aren't making that much difference on the ground.

More evidence from the University of Duh

Week after week brings more evidence for the benefits of investing in cycling, to the point where we're beginning to lose track, so apologies if there's some repetition here. This week's crop included cycling and job creation, more evidence on the benefits of removing centre lines on some roads, the energy-efficiency of bikes (which can be a bit of a problem for the cake-powered among us), and continuing support for the belief that if you build it, they will come. Streetsblog looks at how protected bike lanes also protect pedestrians while Edinburgh students are measuring the stress of cyclists on very much not protected infrastructure in Edinburgh. Ranking Local Authorities by activity levels might help assess the impact of decent infrastructure (as opposed to, say, holding a major sporting event) on a borough, while Tufnell Park cyclists will be watching to see if traffic evaporation really does take place during prolonged bridge works. Velomondial looks at the barriers to success among bikeshare schemes, while in Seattle a bikeshare 'alleycat' is one approach to compensating for the city's helmet law.


Nowhere does the evidence seem to pile up more than in the economic arena, with bikes and bike lanes recognised as being part of Pittsburgh's revival, while a Portland mall plans to revamp its entrance to reflect where many of its customers are coming from - facing the bike lane, rather than the car park (someone should tell Auckland's business owners). In the UK, the DfT is consulting on aligning e-bike regulations with the European standards - although where this creation might fit in is anyone's guess - and besides, are e-bikes just a sticking plaster solution for sprawl? A bike shop doesn't have to be just a bike shop, it can be a campaigning hub as well. And with the first snows of the winter showing where priorities really lie, perhaps it's not too early to mention the Bicycle Relief Christmas Appeal, making the case for bikes changing lives in Africa

Wrong answers to daft questions

There were plenty of wrongheaded approaches flying around this week from the combined cycle helmet and bicycle licence (surely a parody?) to the idea that major cycling schemes shouldn't be biased towards cycling. The fallout from Chris Boardman's appearance on the BBC prompted the Australians to ask if we should join them in the madness of a helmet law while a soft drink company attempts to put itself in the centre of a social media storm by leaving some helmets lying around. New York politicians raise a texting while cycling law, children cycling to school in a canton in Switzerland get compulsory hi vis vests, showing that missing the point isn't confined to the English-speaking world, but there is a small outbreak of common sense among Sacramento politicians. Elevated cycle highways are just as bad an idea in New York as they are in London, as is yet another traffic-free bridge that explicitly excludes bikes - while hoping for a network of quietways to work without filtered permeability is to somewhat miss the point. If you want to install bike lanes install bike lanes, don't come at it sideways by allowing people to cycle on the pavement, and useful as this article is, we still think if you're having to ask an oil company to fund your bike lane, then something has gone badly awry with the world.

So what are the right answers? Well, one surprising source might be a Lego book - and more seriously, lessons from New York's Vision Zero Symposium where, one year on, much has been done but there's clearly a way to go - but that isn't stopping the vision from spreading across the United States.

Campaign news

Six months on from the local elections, the LCC looks at what progress has been made after the Space for Cycling campaign (which emphatically does not mean a parent 'taking the lane' with their small child) - anyone hoping to follow up with their local politicians may want to bring along this handy bingo card to stave off the depression that results. That said, campaigns to support London's cycle superhighways have seen a tidal wave of support with almost 80% of respondents in favour (including some from well beyond London). Similarly in Leicester a mayor seems to be able to make bold decisions and stick to them - with a little strategic support from the local campaign, while Magnatom has at least worked out who he won't be voting for. Looking wider than just at politicians, Accidento Bizarro wonders if women-only bike projects let men off the hook, while Greaserag considers how to make a women-only event feel safe and welcoming even if you've got a bunch of men helping out.

Swapping seats

Sometimes (as well as better streets) you need to show a little kindness to help break down the supposed two tribes mentality dividing cyclists and motorists - while when you do get behind the wheel there's a positive pleasure in overtaking bikes properly. Teaching driving instructors to understand cycling is great but Peter Walker would go further and include bikeability in the driving curriculum - while for the French at least, cars are no longer a status symbol.

Swapping places

Meanwhile, cross-border cycling envy continues, from yet another award-winning bridge in the Netherlands, to a Scottish politician discovering cycling in Barcelona. Malta appears to be suffering from its British colonial heritage, from clueless drivers to a complete absence of cyclists, while a Canadian visitor gets a brief experience of Baltimore's cycling infrastructure and Sheclismo provides some varied female perspectives on cycle commuting in Nebraska. And the sensitive might want to look away now, but the director of SWOV, the Dutch road safety institute wears a helmet occasionally, especially in winter (it keeps his head warm).

And finally

This is pretty old news but for Grayson Perry fans, the man just got awesomer.