The Great Big Husky That Didn't Bark in the Night Bike Blog Roundup

As the election enters the final straight - at last - this has been a campaign where not nearly enough huskies have been hugged but there has been an effort to get cycling on the agenda & round up the various parties' positions. The Conservatives have promised to increase funding if the economy allows (haven't they heard of bikenomics?) - leaving Chris Boardman unimpressed - the Road Danger Reduction Forum fisk the Conservatives' response. Boardman is impressed by the Lib Dems' pledge to turn Britain into a cycling nation but Labour doubt whether their sums add up and Nick Clegg doesn't seem to have much clue how to get more people cycling and walking. The Greens want to see £30 per head spent on cycling and support strict liability (if only to relieve the congestion on the tube). Boardman also likes the SNP's 'ambition' of 10% of journeys by bike by 2020 not realising what a hollow laugh that raises in Scotland. And whatever the complexion of the government we elect on Thursday, it will have to take action on pollution, the Supreme Court rules.

All politics is local

With the Vote Bike responses coming in, local campaigns have been keeping track of local responses (for parliamentary and council elections) - with Pushbikes collating responses in Birmingham, Croydon Cyclists getting responses for Croydon Central, Croydon South and Croydon North. Bespoke Cycle Group covers the Eastbourne area, while there's a mixed picture in Derby where a disjoined cycle network needs attention. Pedaller considers North-west Hampshire, while in Portsmouth, the cycle campaigners are surprised to get cross-party support for its pro-bike transport strategy. The proof of the pudding will be after the election, though - as a (still) unlit cycle path makes clear just how low active travel really is on a council's agenda. Watch out too for politicians backing away from modal share targets once elected - and while it's great if your mayor cycles to work every day, and even has his own designated bike parking, but that can't be a replacement for actual policy. You also have to keep an eye on where that promised funding goes, as Sheffield plans to spend 19% of its sustainable transport funding on a car park...

Taking to the streets

The impact of Pedal on Parliament was still being felt with the promises for extra funding prominent but somewhat overshadowed by the Lib Dem leader's Strava feats on the drive home. You can see all the speeches thanks to Shaun McDonald's videoing them - and also those for Newcastle's cancelled civic ride. Sometimes bikes just get caught up in other protests (I think that might have happened to the chap on the right in New Delhi) while you have to wonder what this picture shows - rioting kids, or a bullying driver?

Women being heard

Also looming large this week was the Women and Cycling conference which, for Total Women's Cycling, just served to demonstrate how diverse 'women cyclists' were. Kats Dekker presented what amounts to a mini masterclass in infrastructure while Accidento Bizarro summarises the view from the floor. If you missed all the fun, there's still the cycling Woman of the Year event to come (and voting is now open for that, if you aren't all voted out by the election). Elsewhere, Jayne Rodgers explains when and why women-only events are helpful, Bike Portland looks at how the Cycle Oregon Weekend ride has bucked the male-dominated trend and Woman on a Wheel has to deal with a bit of objectification even among men she thinks of as friends.

It's the network, stupid

As came up time and again at the women's conference, it's infrastructure that's really needed to encourage everyone to ride - and David Hembrow reminds us not to overlook the importance of a dense grid of routes - preferably one where bikes don't have to put a foot down and where cyclists encounter low levels of traffic stress. It seems this is a lesson Ottawa is struggling with as a planned segregated bike lane goes awol leaving the network with a hole in it. Building a disconnected segregated bike lane can spark controversy but even without the rest of the network it still works out more cost-effective than an urban freeway - and it doesn't take long for bike lane plans to go from controversial to overwhelmingly supported, once local concerns are taken into account. Even rail trails built for recreation can become useful bicycle highways if they're decently connected - something County Mayo seems to understand. Meanwhile as Christchurch continues to rebuild four years after its earthquake, a re-opened footbridge (and its surrounding planned infrastructure) is an encouraging sign, but more consideration still needs to be given to non-car owners.

Building it properly

Of course, that network should consist of decent infrastructure, and not pretend stuff, with junctions where bike-pedestrian conflict is designed in. Several design iterations later, Leith Walk is still getting a mixed reaction, it's fair to say, while the Lambeth Bridge roundabout will need a radical rethink if it's to be properly safe. As Bicycle Dutch prepares to bring Dutch-style cycling ideas to St Petersburg, Crowize Vienna considers how the city's Ringstrasse could go Dutch - while Ranty Highwayman disabuses us of the notion that there's anything simple about even a dropped kerb.

Transforming cities

Civilising our streets goes beyond just bike issues, of course - we need to cut car use generally, play the long game (about public transport advocacy but equally relevant to cycle campaigning) and remember that air quality is too precious to be squandered for free parking. Sometimes it can be hard to meaningly include everyone in improving their streets and their city but when cities close streets to cars but not to people something powerful happens. Even suburbs can be transformed into functioning communities (and some of those malls can be surprisingly cycle friendly if you pick your route) - perhaps with a handful of instant, pedal powered, town squares. Even in a place like Portland, it's making life easier for pedestrians that's people's top priority - which means slowing traffic and making crossing easier, as they're doing in Chicago, not dealing with crossings that don't meet disability standards by removing them altogether.

It's good to share

Bike share was also in the news with Belfast's scheme opening to excited commuters and Philadelphia's scheme kicking off with group rides (a nice touch). Philadelphia has been keen to ensure their scheme works for all income levels, but a survey of Washington's bike share users has shown how those benefiting the most probably need it the least - although you do have to look at the demographics of the areas it serves. In fact, while density may be key to successful bike share systems (just like bike networks, come to think of it) the number of trips per bike shouldn't be the only measure of success. Of course, it's not just bike share that has an effect on equity - there are now very few affordable neighbourhoods in Portland where you can still sensibly cycle to work.

Facing facts

Nor was bike share the only area under scrutiny this week. Tom Payne considered that hardy perennial the cycling revolution and sees some signs of hope that this 'boom' might be sustained - although to put it into perspective, Danish cycling rates have only rebounded to the levels of the 1990s. Elsewhere NI Greenways tease out some interesting facts about the barriers to cycling in Northern Ireland. If you want to get to work on time don't live in London - or buy a bike - it will have even more healthy knock-on effects than you think (as well as keep you sharper for longer), although it may do nothing to knock the 'smug cyclist' stereotype on the head. Suffering from epilepsy should be no barrier either. If you think the roads are dangerous now, be thankful you weren't living during World War II when traffic killed more people than the air raids.

E's are good

For alphabet soup fans, the Bike League considered the 'four Es' of bike friendly businesses: encouragement, education, engineering, and evaluation and planning (well, four Es and a P), while Richmond's (Virginia, not London) first bike-friendly business district goes for a D: discounts for cyclists. And if you're Dutch, and are planning on launching a pop-up cat litter shop in London, how do you get there (with your two cats) - no prizes for guessing by bike.


One 'E' that didn't get a mention is enforcement, with more than half of drivers admitting they flout the rules. One family are forced to consider civil action after an inquest returns a finding of accidental death, while in another case a jury urge action over a dangerous junction as well as convicting the driver who killed a cyclist. Having your bike stolen is bad enough, without the police selling it on before it can be used in evidence - no wonder an anti-theft pedal storms its funding target in short order. Drivers parking in bike lanes is a universal problem but now there's an app for that although I'm not sure it extends as far as Plovdiv. And even when your bike is securely tucked away in a bike hangar it seems the cars can't resist invading - perhaps the driver was trying to park in it?


The next generation

The Tour de France - and now the Tour de Yorkshire might have left fantastic cycling memories but it will take political will to enable all kids to cycle safely to school - and we need to pay attention directly to the voices of young people if we're going to see change. Meanwhile, even in Portland, family cycling is rare in the city centre and a glance at the streets suggests why. Styling kids' bikes like toys doesn't encourage kids to keep riding - but then, when they do take to two wheels on their own you're going to need a faster bike to keep up.

Bells and whistles

Not just the mad tinkering with the basic design of the bike, which has stood the test of time, but the good the bad and the ugly of road safety initiatives (and next time someone tells you helmets cut 89% of head injuries point them to this). As the Dutch go hi-vis for one day only, Boston by Bike found the AAA were doing so well and then they blew it - Streets MN wonders if they'll come for the pedestrians next. But finally, we must warn you of a hazard that neither high-vis, nor helmets, nor even kerb-segregated bike lanes can protect you from: rampaging giraffes. Perhaps, after all, Mother Nature is having her revenge...


Road safety measures should be taken while cycling. It is a solid point that styling kids' bikes like toys doesn't encourage kids to keep riding. They should be told the health benefits of cycling. valet parking luton