The Great Big Still Pedalling (on Parliament) Bike Blog Roundup

Yep, it's that time of the year when I abuse my position as compiler of the blog roundup, to shamelessly plug Pedal on Parliament back for its fourth year. You can come even if you don't ride a bike and lobby your political representative (perhaps remind them that even the head of Cycling Scotland thinks there's more to be done to meet Scotland's target of 10% of journeys by bike by 2020). So, as I explain on the CTC site the Meadows in Edinburgh will be the only place to be on Saturday 25th April - unless you're Pedalling on Aberdeen to make it a city fit for the 21st century, or indeed at on Newcastle's third civic cycle ride or Sheffield's Space for Cycling Big Ride.

Meanwhile, back at the general election...

Events like these aside, cycling has not had much of a presence in the mainstream campaign and manifestos, which little to excite the average campaigner and have left most less than impressed (and Labour's point scoring over 'stealth' speed cameras is not encouraging - but then again, neither is the Tories' attitude towards seafront cycling in Eastbourne). At the local level Ely Cycle campaign looks at the manifestos for the district council elections, Bristol candidates will face a cycle hustings while Push Bike rounds up the relevant events in the Bimringham area. And in Manchester, Love Your Bike is looking for organisations to sign up to an updated manifesto for the city. Nor is the UK the only place enjoying (or suffering) an election: Boy on a Bike considers the mayoral candidates for Pasadena while the Australian Cyclists' Party considers its impact beyond mere electoral success. Meanwhile the Turkish president discovers the power of the bicycling photo opportunity (and seems to understand the need for infrastructure, even if he doesn't exactly go the distance) while the UK's own Carlton Reid is taking Washington by storm, or at least the Bike Caucus in Congress.

Sharpening Vision Zero

Something else taking the US by storm is the idea of Vision Zero, with a new network formed to raise the standard for cities attempting to set out a vision for zero road deaths, which is looking at how Vision Zero has spread and in particular how a coalition of cycling and walking campaigners helped build momentum for it in San Francisco. And while a war on traffic deaths is nothing new, in Ireland at least it has taken a child's death and a mother's campaign even to put lower speed limits on the agenda in Ireland.

City ambitions...

With many cities now raising their game in the US - is it time for Portland to lose its platinum bike-friendly ranking? Certainly some of Portland's cyclists are tired of being used as 'props' to promote the city - so how can it get its mojo back? Elsewhere, Paris's latest ambition for cycling is the culmination of a change that's been spreading across France, while Danish cycling isn't just about Copenhagen, Odense has been building cycle mode share too. In Dublin, one councillor wants a 'green wave' like Copenhagen's while down in the southern hemisphere, Canberra has quietly turned itself into something of a cycling city while Christchurch is steadily rolling out new cycle facilities without much fanfare. And the Dutch? Well, this old kilometre-long brand new cycle viaduct is so nothing special it doesn't even need a name, apparently.


...or complete lack of it

So how much ambition are we seeing in the UK? Well the Bradford-Shipley cycle path is almost completed, after 15 months, while Cambridgeshire's much vaunted cycle path besides the rapid bus transit route turns out not to be a cycle path after all - it's 'only a maintenance track' apparently, so it can be closed off at will - but at least, unlike in Coventry, it might not take three years to get it reopened, while at least the Bristol Bath cycle path is being closed for improvement work including a long-overdue widening. In Birmingham a long neglected tunnel could have been used to link up the bike network better, but will just be covered over. Of course, some closures can be beneficial - a diversion shows the way for safer cycling in rural areas (where two villages barely a kilometre apart have no safe route between them) while in Inverness a fire creates an accidental experiment in pedestrianisation.

Making it safe

So what should be done? Cycle Action Auckland reckons it's 'the three Is' - infrastructure, infrastructure, infrastructure, because there's nothing magic about Dutch drivers and bad road design is dangerous everywhere. In the US the message seems to have got through with protected bike lanes spreading in San Francisco and in New York. In some places even a line of traffic cones can make a difference, or a contraflow bike lane making an illegal shortcut a legitimate route. Sadly, the needs of construction traffic threatens one such lane in Chicago - even though we know in London that mixing bikes and construction traffic can have tragic consequences. Portland's paint on the road is confusing drivers too, although there are some signs to help now, while in Melbourne, even on a cycle route the choice at one junction is 'sprint or die'.

Beyond infrastructure?

But is there a place for other measures? Sustrans argue infrastructure and promotion should go hand-in-hand - but how can you promote walking or cycling if every time you venture outside your car you're reminded you're a second-class citizen? Or perhaps we should fund the 'safest bike in the world', designed to be hit by an HGV and just bounce off? We'll let Eben Weiss, better known as Bike Snob deal with that kind of approach. Meanwhile, legal measures and enforcement can be a double-edged sword - with New York taking its eye off the real problem and going after texting cyclists, and while a 3-foot passing law is now on the books in 26 US states it's also brought with it calls to require bikes to pull over to let drivers pass (actually, they already have to...). Calls to make turn signals more logical might make sense, though, and a visit from the bike light fairy (who also visits the Netherlands, you may recall) is no bad thing.

Campaigning news

Meanwhile campaigners everywhere keep on keeping on, undaunted by near death experiences on the very roads they're campaigning about. In Tunbridge Wells, disgusted cyclists die-in for better infrastructure while Cambridge Cycle Campaign gets its first full-time employee to support campaigners (I hope she's brushed up on her Latin and Greek. People for Bikes continue to make the social justice case for streets for people, while urging us all to shed the monster and get out on our bikes. The campaigner behind Los Angeles' Midnight Ridazz talks about the fight for safer streets - while Detroit's Slow Roll keeps rolling along and a Portland night ride is a reminder that bike make it better. Finally, one man is getting the poorest kids cycling in New Zealand, after cycling saved his own health.

Follow the numbers

For those who prefer hard numbers to feelgood stories, there were plenty out there this week, with bikes now making up 7% of Bristol's traffic and 5.4% of Dublin's, where the 'canal cordon' round the city provides some interesting insight into Dublin's cycling numbers. New York's cycle commuters reach record numbers although growth has slowed, while Cycleicious wonders how accurate commute-only counts are. Help may be at hand with a federal government pilot programme into cycle counting, something that should help cities get serious - as will recording all collisions, even if nobody got seriously hurt. Pedal Parity considers what it really means when a road 'has no speeding problem', while CityLab looks at the cost of car dependence to the middle classes - and Streets.MN at traffic data, employment and population combined.

Bikes by other means

Bike share continued to be in the news, with Chicago's scheme expanding to cover 56% percent of the city's population, even as Copenhagen threatens to pull the plug on its over-fancy bike share scheme - perhaps they should have let the locals provide the bikes. Meanwhile, some are waking up to the fact that integration with cycling makes your rail network more effective because multimodal travel is the way to go, something Washington DC is picking up on, although plans to combine bikes and trains in other ways - by running trails alongside tracks - are hitting the buffers.

And finally

Nothing to do with the sort of cycling we usually cover here, but let us just pause for a moment to say chapeau to Steve Abraham, who doesn't let a mere flesh wound like a broken ankle stop him going for a world cycling record. Imagine if he took up cycle campaigning. We'd be unstoppable...


It is good news for the cyclists that IWell the Bradford-Shipley cycle path is almost completed, after a long time. A well planned activity for the promotion of walking and cycling. luton airport valet parking