The Great Big New Year's Resolution Bike Blog Roundup

It's 2015 and we're back from our Christmas break all ready to, well, go back to bed, frankly but that's another matter. Out there in bike blog land resolutions were being made - mostly to cycle more - although if you are resolving to give up your car then Kim Harding has a dire warning for you - life may never be the same again.

Looking back and looking forward

It being that time of the year, bloggers and campaigners were looking back over a big year in cycling in Northern Ireland, San Francisco, Washington State and Pittsburgh - it's hard to escape the impression that the momentum is all on the American side of the Atlantic when it comes to cycling. But others were looking forward to 2015 even in the UK, as well as in Seattle (another US city that has had a good 2014) and Portland (which seems to be shaking of its stagnation), while &Bike has some wishes for 2015. Washington Bikes looks at some positive trends that should be good for the future, Wisconsin Bike Fed plans to build equity through cycling, while if all else fails, we could just start learning Finnish (by 2050 we might just have mastered it, too). British Cycling kicks off the new year reminding us all how much we can save too. And, on a much more sombre note, 2015 got off to the worst possible start for two separate cyclists' families, while Ireland looks back on its deadliest year for cyclists in a while.


Design matters

Meanwhile the detailed discussion of design matters continued. People for Bikes had some statistics important for anyone designing protected bike lanes - interesting in the light of the fact that Chicago Streets Blog found they liked New York's protected bike lanes better than their own home town's, while found that barely half an inch could make the difference in transforming a bike track. It's not just about kerbs, though - Mr Happy Cyclist considered how the geometry of a cycle track on a roundabout could be improved so you don't need to be an owl to use it -, while Shaun McDonald wondered why only left-turning cyclists were protected on a City of London Roundabout (and the Alternative DfT questioned whether we really need an app to tell us that a roundabout is a scary place on a bike at all). Geometry matters in Copenhagen toowhile David Hembrow slaughters the shared space sacred cow - hopefully all matters that will be dealt with in Transport for London's International Best Practice Study report. If they're looking for an international worst practice study, then they could do worse than visit Renfrewshire which manages to tick all the boxes for poor UK cycling infrastructure design, or Belfast whose contraflow cycle lanes just seem to turn cyclists into the crumple zone between cars.

It's a culture thing

While the Dutch may have a distinct cycling culture of their own, cycling in a multicultural city like Rotterdam shows that it's nothing to do with being Dutch. But culture does matter when it comes to political will - like Cambridge cracking down on pavement cyclists on one hand while forcing bikes and pedestrians together on the other. Or TfL responding to groundless fears and compromising CS2 at Whitechapel Market - even though doom and gloom over other hugely controversial plans have proved to be unfounded. It takes a lot to get Magnatom down, for instance, but cycle campaigning in Glasgow will do it - and it sounds as if Irish politicians can be just as wrong headed (and the uphill struggle cycle campaigners face has always been with us). But never fear, for a known bike-monger has made it onto the New Year's Honour list and cargo bikes have now stormed the final bastion of middle England, although cultural differences will probably remain; note that in Germany the most important thing about bike cargo carrying capacity is how many cases of beer it will manage.

Return to the political fray

With 2015 looking like a busy year in politics, Spokes looks forward to some political decisions coming up. Transport Providence asks bike campaigners and local councils alike to be bold in what they're asking for - and explains why we need to turn the issue of liability on its head. Here in the UK, with Labour declaring an end to the war on the motorist again, politicians of all stamps seem to be fixated on roads - and we're reduced to arguing about the difference between the carriageway and the highway when it comes to pothole repair. Tooting Traffik tries to build consensus for a Tooting Bec Road that's safe for all while Manchester is told it needs more ambition and less green paint and Sheffield struggles with the concept of even weakly encouraging active travel given that its cycling forum chair is a climate change denier - but that may be better than the Australian medical profession's grasp of relative risk. On the positive side, an Edinburgh council official defends and explains the city's George Street experiment in robust terms (and almost more importantly, something resembling normal human English), while Cycle Bath gets to go fantasy cycle path shopping for the council. Elsewhere, Two Wheels Good finishes their heroic roundup of all those London consultations while TfL seem to be consulting on quietway junctions without much of a picture of where the rest of the route will go.

Missed opportunities

Even with the year drawing to a close and a new year dawning, the vital council work of disappointing cyclists goes on - with Leith Walk proving that Edinburgh is jut as car sick as Glasgow - no mean feat if Glasgow's treatment of its motorway for bikes is anything to go by; Bike Gob has some suggestions for Glasgow's cycling csar (not assuming someone is a 'sir' would be a good start). Eli and everyone else is still in the dark in Mussleburgh, but Darkerside has a quick win suggestion for a route in Glasgow and Lancaster Dynamo wants to put the 'ride' back into the city's park and ride. In Coventry an opportunity to unweave some motor and cycle routes has been lost - you have to go elsewhere to get an underpass or even a bridge to cross a dangerous highway.

Legal matters

There was some progress last year on the CTC's Road Justice campaign although the Michael Mason case (or rather lack of case) raises serious issues, and not just for cyclists. Civil London asks whether police should be able to temporarily confiscate a driver's licence after a collision - but perhaps confiscating their phone would be even more effective - after all, the beauty of distracted drivers is they don't even notice a police car right besid them. Meanwhile cyclists can legally ride on the prom in Seaford after a trial doesn't end in carnage - and Velovoice and Google Streetview between them prove that not all cyclists run red lights. Elsewhere, the rise of semi-decent cycling infrastructure has brought out a whole new set of scofflaw drivers - who, if they can squeeze into a bike lane, will park on it even in apparent defiance of the laws of physics - but in Edinburgh at least Dead Dog Blog is on their case, while in Hampshire, Pedaller is starting a little awareness raising campaign of his own, while Magnatom discovers what it's like from the other side of the windscreen when it all goes horrible wrong.

The view from elsewhere

The blog roundup wouldn't be the blog roundup without the usual crop of travelogues - sometimes envious as Ranty Highwayman visits Bruges and seems to spend more time on the bollards than the beer - and sometimes adventurous, like joining Mumbai's small but determined band of cycle commuters or observing cycling in Kabul from a female perspective. CycleBoom admires the older cyclists of Houten, Groningen and Malmo while it seems that Perth (Australia) has much to learn from both Vancouver and Groningen (as indeed might Capetown). Malta, meanwhile, seems more concerned about hedgehogs than cyclists - perhaps something to add to Portland's whimsical bike lane characters

The Cycling Embassy stands second to nobody in our admiration of Dutch infrastrucure, and over the years, this section of the roundup has always seemed to include at least one piece of jaw-droppingly fantastic new infrastructure from Denmark or the Netherlands - so perhaps it's understandable if we indulge in a touch of schadenfreude from time to time. Like the fact that the Dutch solar bike path everyone was so excited about has suffered from the wrong kind of weather, or that their gritting plans aren't always quite as reliable as they might be cracked up to be. But, having almost been taken out by one, we're sorry to hear that scooters won't be banned on Amsterdam's cycle tracks - and were quietly pleased to learn that Danish cyclists are mainly just too chic to wear hi vis, even if they've promised to do so in the interests of science.

And finally

If we can indulge in a little looking forward of our own - let's make 2015 the year we give our children the gift of a safe space to ride their bikes (if only because of graphs like this) - and stop talking about driverless cars, but make 2015 the year of the carless driver


... life may never be the same again... for the BETTER ;-)