The Great Big Old Cyclists Never Die Bike Blog Roundup

The week started with the welcome (if unsurprising) news that old cyclists never die - in fact they don't even get old - good news for those older drivers who may need to take to three wheels - and fortunately it's never really too late to learn although once you do learn to cycle in adulthood it's even more important that you have safe spaces to ride.

Getting it wrong

Less welcome was the continuing evidence that people still just don't get it, from Transport for London's very own twitter troll to design guides that continue to cater mostly for existing cyclists. Of course, even a stopped clock is right twice a day, as one Washington bike hater proves - and it's true that cyclists don't contribute (to congestion, pollution ...). Meanwhile we continue to describe driving almost 50% over the speeding limit as careless driving and let a vocal minority drive cycling policy - and when the authorities do get something right, our learned friends are always ready to step in and sue.

Active travel debate

This week also saw Scotland's politicians debate active travel, something Scotland's cyclists had apparently been dreaming about. Sadly, the new minister's motion proved extremely complacent about the whole thing, which was surprising given the comprehensive lack of progress made so far. Darkerside summarises the debate here - leaving Pedal on Parliament seeking some brave politicians and Spokes wondering what that was all about.

One step forward...

But there has been some progress, in places - and not only in the US where 2014 proved the year of the protected bike lane. After years of complaints, barriers on the Wandle trail are finally being removed, while the East-West Superhighway looks set to go ahead, although the Royal Parks may prove obstructive. The first of the 'mini Holland' projects has been signed off in Waltham Forest and the Old Street Roundabout plans are an improvement on what's there although it would be better just to turn it into a simple crossroads with space for cycling. NewCycling finds some progress has been made in Jesmond, while a Richmond river route is becoming easier to negotiate on foot or on two wheels, and in Wales, Bath's Two Tunnels route is proving an inspiration for another project. Further afield, Pittsburgh continues to invest long term for cycling, a Seattle neighbourhood without enough green space plans to take it from the cars and cyclists might be enabled to just fly over a horrendous intersection

... and two steps back

But sometimes hard fought progress can go backwards - with a Florida city reversing a road diet (albeit not a brilliant one from a cycling perspective) and a Chicago road diet plan that disappears at major junctions. In Dublin, there's room for six lanes for cars but bikes and pedestrians still have to share a pavement. Oklahoma City proposes a three-foot passing law - for bikes passing cars - and even in Portland it seems that not everyone loves bikes.

Kept in the dark

But what about in the UK? Well it seems the trend this week was for local authorities to treat their local campaign groups like mushrooms: Sheffield Cycle campaign has had to resort to Freedom of Information requests to get at the truth behind a bridge demolition proposal while Leicester council is building new cycling infrastructure without clear indications of what will actually be built. Manchester is only now considering how bikes and trams will mix, with the tracks already being laid - and when we do build cycle routes we keep everybody in the dark if we don't properly sign them.

Design matters

This matters because getting the design right is key to behaviour - from cyclists in Copenhagen to those in the US, and consulting early might help avoid excessive bollardry - even a non-cyclist can see where the problems are with some plans. Meanwhile, Sustrans have been looking at the issues around network planning while the European Cycling Federation considers what makes for a real cycle superhighway across Europe - but it's not just about the big infrastructure, little decisions (like who gets right of way) tell people what priority cycling and walking really has.

Parking wars

Parking - particularly on pavements or bike lanes - seemed to be having a bit of a moment this week, with Downfader finding pavements aren't so much refuges as potholed parking spots - and the same seems to go for the Meadows in Edinburgh - although there are signs from Manchester to Auckland that persistence (and politeness) pays off, although in Ireland, cyclists are set to be fined more heavily than scofflaw parkers and in the UK the law on pavement parking is far too confusing. Meanwhile Pedestrian Liberation and the San Francisco Bicycle coalition want your spots of 'dirty parking'. Of course, when it comes to parking, some politicians seem to see no means of travel other than the car - perhaps better integration of bikes and public transport is the answer - be it (bike) parking spaces, or bikes on trains or even buses.

Campaigning matters

The beginning of the year continues to bring reflective posts - such as three steps for better bike lanes, and these ten tips for campaign groups, which mostly underlines how much more resources US campaigns have - although Cambridge Cycling Campaign is recruiting for a campaign officer. Paul Steely-White has some lessons from New York - and underlines the importance of political leadership. Auckland looks at 18 lessons Europe can teach New Zealand - and one cautionary tale, about allowing scooters in the bike lanes - which may be why Dutch campaigners are hotly debating the issue of speed limits for cycle paths. And when an advocate turns academic, Kats Dekker wonders if there is a conflict of interest

A numbers game

Much campaigning seems to be about bandying statistics about, or correcting others' - such as the real story behind Edinburgh and Glasgow's cycling casualty rates. Andy does the maths to work out the scope for mass cycling in the UK. Amazingly, the US government seems to have finally adjusted its traffic forecasts to match reality (how long before the UK government follows suit?) - perhaps because we no longer need to run so many errands. In a state where winter cycling is a real challenge, considers the case for bike lanes anyway - and indeed whether people really like their cars or are just held hostabe by them. Looking at the coverage of cycle tracks, Seattle still has a long way to go to become properly bike friendly although it does feature in the top 25 bike to work cities in the US - and if you measure the right thing, Melbourne does surprisingly well, at least in its inner suburbs

Facing the dangers

Some stats make for less pleasant reading, of course, like the grim start 2015 has got off to in the UK. Some injured cyclists would have been among that number were it not for techniques learned on the battlefield (and no, not the question of the best gun to carry on a bike ride) - but the real tragedy is the junction in question needn't even have been open to HGVs. Even in the Netherlands, cycling in the dark can feel a bit daunting - although help is at hand with the Charge of the Light Brigade.


You'd think the bottom line would be the one statistic nobody would ignore - but despite yet more evidence of the benefits of a cycling economy, and the downsides of a motor-driven one, businesses from pubs to shopping malls seem blind to the benefits of two-wheeled customers - although at least in California, one coffee shop finally gets its bike racks back after the city seemed to think it didn't want them.

Cycling for everyone

As one campaigner explains why he's battling for better bike infrastructure among black Chicagoans, there are more barriers than just traffic for some minority cyclists - and if the police don't get you then baffling catcallers, body-image expectations or even unwanted mansplaining from your own toddler might serve to put you off.

Good news

But do not be downcast for, ending as we begun, there were plenty more good news stories as well this week - from the secret benefits of cycling all winter - including warding off the cynicism of the daily commute - to Santa dishing out the goodies to nurseries in the poorer parts of Glasgow. If nothing else, the US bike lane revolution is giving engineers interesting problems to solve, even if the latest on-bike gizmos seem more like a solution looking for a problem...

And finally

Like everyone, we've perhaps been more preoccupied with the horrors in Paris than the minutiae of cycling infrastructure this week - but it turns out that Cabu, who died in the Charlie Hebo attacks, was also a defender of the humble Velib Bike...