The Great Big Autumn Statement Bike Blog Roundup

OK, so technically (and meteorologically) it is definitely winter - with Chicago working out how best to clear its protected bike lanes of snow, and the Dutch (of course) undauntedly cycling through the rain - but the airwaves, newspapers and bike blogs were also full of the implications of the Autumn Statement and with it the latest government announcements on national infrastructure which made pretty clear what a pittance cycling gets, although at least the Rotherhithe to Canary Wharf cycle bridge might now get considered. Chester Cycling considers how best to use that government largesse while Vole o'Speed considers the sorry fate of some earlier cycling schemes, and the end of funding for the cycle to school partnerships is bad news in Islington. Nor does it sound as if a Labour government would be much different while among the devolved governments funding for cycling in the Scottish draft budget only gets more confused, not less. Still, at least the Barnet Consequentials (do try and pay attention at the back) mean that there's a chance for more cycle cash - Suzanne Forup knows what she wants for Christmas and so too does Dead Dog Blog. Across the Irish sea, the Northern Irish cycling strategy needs to take more account of rural cycling needs althought at least in Belfast cyclists will not after all have to share bus lanes with minicabs, just, you know, with buses...

Think local

So if national governments won't save us, how about local ones? America's Bike League has five lessons for bike friendly communities that could well be applied over here and it wasn't all bad news - Bristol council has approved a new bike and pedestrian bridge and is putting pressure on its neighbour to get its act together, while Darkerside grabs his rose-tinted spectacles and hopes Glasgow's city centre transport strategy gets approved - although elsewhere considerations of cost and impact on traffic prevent radical action on improving routes - and we can't have that. The LCC is busy holding all those 'space for cycling' councillors to account and ensuring they keep their promises - Hounslow councillors at least do seem to have got off to a good start - while Two Wheels Good has a round up of current TfL consultations for your delight. Richmond Cycle Campaign are supporting more widespread 20mph limits in the borough, while Manchester Friends of the Earth have responded to Manchester's latest cycle way plan. Of course, even when Manchester does build some cycle routes it seems prone to closing them sometimes without warning and for months on end while the closure of the flagship Bristol to Bath and the resulting detours have brought out some disturbing attitudes towards cycling all round and a new route in Inverness has to be reviewed as it proves to be continually blocked by parked cars and bins. And as Ranty Highwayman laments the gradual disappearance of the municipal engineer, in New Jersey they have a more concrete reason to mourn, with the death of a councillor - killed on his bike even as his city starts to implement its bike plan.

All-powerful bike lobby?


All of which suggests the all-powerful bike lobby might not have gained much traction in these parts - although in Paris the mayor wants to ban cars from the historic centre. In an interesting and wide ranging interview, ex mayor of Seattle Mike McGinn discusses handling 'bikelash', and the importance of pedestrian safety as much as cycling safety. An apparent conversion by an anti-bike councillor in LA may not be what it seems, while even the home of Walmart is getting some cycling infrastructure, albeit mainly for leisure routes. Closer to home, Adrian Lord considers cycling's role in 'White Van-gate' (and Downing Street Gate-gate of course) while on Tory MP is saved from white van man by the sturdiness of her bike, which must be an absolute tank.

Cycling for Growth

This week also saw the release of the European Cycling Federation's Cycling for Growth report which recommends cycling be integrated into growth plans with the potential for the creation of one million jobs by 2020 - as well as another report looking at fiscal incentives for commuters across the EU. And if that's a bit too European for you, closer to home there has been a look at the impact of the Tour de France in Britain (both economically and inspirationally), although apparently it's fear of cyclists that's keeping people from shopping in Darlington town centre. San Francisco businesses may be beginning to recognise the benefits of cycling but when it comes to bike shops themselves, 50% of the population aren't that well served: the American Bike League is asking bike shops what they're doing to close the gender gap - an end to 'shrink it and pink it' would be a good start...

With Christmas almost upon us, over here we still seem to be obsessed with free parking rather than road closures as the best way to promote small businesses - although Edinburgh seems to have got the message. Total Women's Cycling suggests some routes to help work up an appetite for all the bratwurst at those Christmas markets - although some markets forget to market cycling as an alternative to taking the car. Still, you know you're a cyclist when you're disappointed your local Christmas tree farm isn't further away - although you could always get your tree delivered by bike, in Copenhagen at least.

Understanding motiviation

We can laugh at people who make seemingly absurdly short car journeys but car dependency is more complicated than that - you need to look at the places people might have to walk and cycle through, giving bikes away is not enough. There's also the attitudes of the police in some cases - meaning police brutality could be a 'streets' matter just as much as design. And talking about privilege rather than individual blame can help make conversations with drivers less confrontational.

Differences of opinion

While we might expect cyclists and the Institute of Advanced Morotists not to see eye to eye and cyclists and the police to get into the odd twitterspat, even among those committed to bikes in one way or another, differences still exist which keep us from adopting the obvious solution to a lot of sustainability issues. Here in the UK, Cycle Nation is beginning to distance itself from the vehicular cycling mentality although there are plenty still willing to fight that corner. Hackney People on Bikes have some questions for the Hackney Cycle Campaign while there's one donor who will no longer be supporting Sustrans. Less seriously, Dr Hutch won't be watching any more helmet cam videos (there's just no narrative closure) although sensationalist bike crash images are nothing new, while some cyclists' complaints about bike parking are a little overegged (try parking your bike at the park in Tokyo if you want something to complain about).

How dangerous is dangerous enough?

You would think it would be obvious that roads where there are lots of cycling deaths and injuries would be a priority for cycling infrastructure - a message that is only just starting to get through in Lancaster - but plans for a black spot like Deptford Broadway are disappointingly poor for cycling and not much better for walking, because not 'enough' people have been killed for it to feature on TfL's Better Junctions list (and we shouldn't minimise the lifelong impact of injuries which mightn't even be considered that serious). Collision figures show that Hackney needs space for cycling on the A10, not just quiet back routes (something No Spandex Mommy would recognise - especially if you live on those busy roads) - it's dangerous madness to block desire lines for vulnerable road users rather than tackle the source of the danger itself - we need to balance 'road safety' with actually saving lives (including those lost to inactivity and pollution). Meanwhile, the lessons from the Vision Zero symposium in New York are still being considered, while Irish campaigners, with Sean Kelly, launch a 1.5m passing law campaign

Design matters

Despite everything, the latest street design guidelines continue to emphasise placefaking over proper provision for cycling, let alone the visually impaired - with the Cowgate in East Dunbartonshire proving the latest example. America continues to be dazzled by shared space although at least Chicago is considering imposing sensible speed limits - at 10mph, it might just work - while hopefully Streetsblog's urban street transfomation awards won't be dazzled by granite setts over the actual needs of people. Equally important, shouldn't we be designing big trucks out of cities, not designing them in? And if you want a haven of peace and tranquility it's a few bollards you need, not a visitor attraction in the middle of the Thames.

Views from elsewhere

Travel, virtual and actual, continues apace in bike blog land, with a Brompton and its owner finding returning to the UK a bit of a culture shock after a couple of years in the Netherlands. GoBike looks across the water at lessons from Dublin where bike traffic has risen sharply (if unevenly) in the space of a year while Everyday Cycling would like to see a Lincolnshire version of London's proposed superhighway network, Cycle Stuff wonders whether Cardiff will follow New York's lead, and in Rome the Italians take matters into their own hands. City Lab interviews our own Carlton Reid, while the Dutch get themselves an American 'professor of vacuuming' who appears to be the only person in blog land who has actually ridden the glow in the dark bike path instead of admiring it on the internet. While American fume about trucks in their cycle tracks Copenhagenites seem less bothered - perhaps too busy wondering where they will park their own expensive cargo bike... we're filing that one under 'nice problem to have'.

And finally

With cyclists everywhere compiling their Christmas lists, here's one bike we've probably all fantasised about owning after a particularly stressful commute (if you're worried about the legality of packing heat (or a rocket launcher) on your bike you might want to stick to the US). Or if that's too violent for you, some inspiration instead...