The Great Big Dutch or Double Dutch Bike Blog Roundup

We read a lot in this blog round up about what UK and other English-speaking cycle bloggers think of cycling in the Netherlands, but if you've ever wondered what a Dutch blogger thinks of cycling in the UK wonder no more - although, even if your mum forces you to wear a silly helmet when cycling in such a hostile environment it's still better than all the alternatives for getting around London. And while we're seeing ourselves as others see us, here's the Canadian take on cycling in Iceland and Scotland, albeit the latter from the perspective of the road.

Double Dutch

It would help if we actually understood Dutch infrastructure - with Bedford's turbo roundabout still getting mistaken for actual cycling infrastructure (do not be fooled by the image illustrating that article), while we've managed to get shared space entirely backwards by putting it on through streets rather than access roads. American campaigners who haven't had the pleasure of riding around them often mistake roundabouts (of any description) for cycling infrastructure although US ones do seem slightly better than UK ones - while when you're cycling in LA, combined bike and bus lanes are an improvement on the alternative - and who knows what Brazil's roads must be like if their national cycling team mistakes a highway in Vancouver for a good place for a cycle ride.

Meanwhile we continue to do things that nobody could mistake for 'Dutch' - like putting barriers on bike lanes and downgrading planned segregated lanes for paint in the road. And no, adding 'please' to a cyclist dismount sign doesn't really help - while spelling it wrong just adds insult to injury.

Not all bad news

It was not all bad news, though, with a half built cycle track across Vauxhall bridge already attracting cyclists. Outside London new crossings planned for the A52 are not that bad at least as far as they go, while hundreds of cyclists turned out to celebrate a new bridge over the A38 in Devon. In Ireland, Waterford city centre plans include segregated cycle tracks and more space for people while cycling is rising steadily in Vienna despite a mix OK and 'meh' infrastructure. A visit to the original famous bike counter raises the issue of whether Vancouver is beginning to catch up with Copenhagen.

Who owns the roads

Last week bloggers were horrified by the return of 'road tax', this week, War on the Motorist suggests that drivers are welcome to use 'their' roads - as long as they leave the rest to us (but bearing in mind that the US equivalents are often part of the urban streetscape and should be designed as such). Unfortuntately, the local authorities who own the bulk of the road network are often no better, with the city of London blocking the implementation of several quietways although some quietways are so quiet you won't notice they're there (possibly because Islington has managed to spend half a million on cycling without changing a thing). In North Korea, the people own the bike lanes, like everything else even if barely anyone can afford a bike.

Open streets events return the roads to the people, albeit temporarily - in Dublin they're looking again at car-free Sundays despite opposition killing plans in the past while Seattle's events are going from strength to strength. In Hackney the UK's first 'parklet' claims a little roadspace back for the people - but ultimately we only have both the roads and the cycling infrastructure on loan from mother nature and she's quick to take it back once it stops being maintained.

Trying it out

Perhaps that was just the long-term version of the trial and temporary bike lanes that are popping up - whether for an hour in the city of Newark as they get people to test out a possible cycle track, or the return of a temporary bike lane in Portland for the Orgeon Brewers' festival. Meanwhile, the Dutch public are invited to test ride new hire bikes complete with a stunt bump in the road and water-filled pothole, such things obviously not being available for real on Dutch streets ...

Vision Zero

With 1000 New Yorkers joining bereaved families to call for action not condolences on road safety, there was another Dutch echo as Bike Portland wonders if New York is having its 'Kindermoord' moment - while the invisible man wonders where all the religious leaders are in this movement? In London, the founder of Stop Killing Cyclists explains how better road conditions would benefit everyone - poorly designed and dangerous intersections don't really work for anyone, not even drivers. A 'momentary lapse of attention' shouldn't mean death to a cyclist - and it's hard to keep traffic at arm's length however assertively you ride. With the statistics showing cycling deaths and injuries on the rise in Wales and Florida still struggling to improve its bike and pedestrian safety record, in LA the city's transport department looks in more detail at the data for a single road, to determine the causes of collisions.

Politics as usual

Back in Westminster, the Prime Minister meets MPs to talk cycle safety to no real discernable effect, while the Freight Transport Association would like lorry operators to be bribed to bring in safer lorries. How this will all fit in with the new European Roadmap for cycling, now approved by MEPs is anyone's guess, although the ECF does look at the implications for the cyclign industry. Across the Atlantic, Seattleites seem to be spoilt for choice for good cycle-friendly council candidates - not something you could ever imagine saying about a local election in the UK - although in California the battle of the bike lanes on Santa Monica Boulevard has a more familiar ring to it.

The kids are all right

With the school holidays upon us, it's worth remembering that for children cycling is always functional as it offers them unparalleled independence - but not if we have to dress them like builders and teach them to take the lane to assert that freedom. Pushbikes looks at what it takes to enable independent cycling for children in the city centre. In Auckland, cycling with a toddler is the obvious way to travel - as long as you've got a safe route to ride in; cycleways are important even if it's just so your new nanny feels confident ferrying your kids around in your Nihola trike.

Changing Places

New perspectives often shed light on old problems - for the Invisible Visible Man, taking his New York driving test illuminated the problems of road safety in the city. In Sydney, switching to driving is a reminder that once you've got used to cycling cars are the opposite of freedom (especially when you've got to park the thing). A video from 70s New Zealand reminds David Hembrow how bikes just haven't been on the radar for so many city planners - leading to intractable problems today. Sometimes it's being forced off the bike that makes it clear just how hostile our cities are to those without a car, while living with a chronic illness can mean that sometimes a bike is the only feasible way to get around. And for those interested in both kerb-nerdery and lycra the 5-day California Dream Ride must be the ultimate infrastructure safari.


We were battling zombie arguments last week, but they've not gone away - the BBC seems to have a problem with cyclists in recent months - while ITV seems to have a clearer focus on cycle safety rather than cycle hatred. If you do want to engage with the haters, and good luck with that, here are some facts to try and put those tired old arguments to bed - and here are some more - and while you're at it, you can stop talking about the 'humble bicycle' ...

What are bikes good for?

It probably won't change any minds, but there was plenty of evidence for the all-round usefulness of bikes from delivering lunch and cutting waste in Zurich to chasing down bike thieves in the Netherlands and delivering post in Croatia. Bikes can be good business whether you run a social enterprise or a bank. Bike lanes can deliver a big spending customer before they're even completed (even if the shop keeper might be sceptical), and walking is and should be important for shopping too - those broken parking meters in Cardigan don't really tell us all that much. Bikeshare schemes deliver all sorts of benefits - including doing more to tackle obesity than walking - just don't end up on the freeway by mistake. You can even use your bike to go tailgating (that's the barbecuing kind of tailgating, not the road raging kind, which would be harder on a bike). And, in a story designed to get right up the Daily Mail's nose, you can empower women asylum seekers

and finally ...

It's been a couple of months, but it's good to see Bikeface back and taking on the dread issue of sweating on the bike - although alternatively you could just move to Scotland where it doesn't really arise even in the 'height' of 'summer'...