The Great Big Scary Enough for Halloween Bike Blog Roundup

As the (English speaking) world recovers from the terrifying prospect of Halloween's annual influx of actual children onto our actual streets, Streetsblog points out that children need undistracted drivers not hi vis to be safe on Halloween - and just because you're composing that email hands free doesn't mean you're not distracted, by the way - while here in the UK, surely it's the definition of irony to have the RAC sponsoring the Cub Scouts' road safety badge, with an emphasis on handing out hi vis, naturally. For those thinking of slathering their children in Volvo LifePaint, finds out if it does what it says on the tin. In general, though, it's HGVs rather than children (or winter cyclists) we should be frightened of, unless you're a driver in a bike lane in Boston, in which case be very afraid of Bikeyface. Or perhaps it's all of us: the zombie nation when it comes to making transport choices. However, if you are too scared to cycle - perhaps you need counselling?

Cutting traffic

Zombie drivers aside, perhaps the scariest thing of all for some people is a city with no cars - a fear they may need to face up to sooner than they think. In Lambeth, the ambitious Loughborough Junction trial to cut through traffic seems to have been a partial success so far, eight weeks in, while decades on, as there's a chance to expand filtered permeability around De Beauvoir Square, Hackney Cyclist delves into the history of how the scheme came about with interesting echoes of what was going on in Amsterdam at the time. In Belfast, NI Greenways looks at tackling the 'bull run' of lorries that blight the Short Strand area while in London plans to remove most motorised traffic from Bank Junction seem to have been leaked prematurely. We do need to stop talking about scary sounding road closures - perhaps 'flowerpotted junctions' is the better term - but we'll have to do something because new technology means that otherwise rat runs will just keep getting worse.


Of course, once you try and keep cars out of anywhere drivers tend to get confused and drive there anyway - even if it trashes their car - perhaps Bristol should have used salad bowls instead - or even pumpkins. Elsewhere, plastic posts are enough to turn what was effectively a parking lane back into a bike lane - although when Chicago first wanted to try this approach its own state government tried to stop it - while in Canada a new parking protected bike lane takes shape. Meanwhile, here in the UK, we sometimes get a bit carried away about keeping motorised traffic off trails and end up keeping the bikes out too - although at least we don't usually build residential streets with no pavements as they have done in the US.

Design Details

Whether it's bollards or other design features, so often the devil is in details, however apparently small. In Birmingham too many compromises mean that the city's Cycling Revolution plans risk being left behind by other cities, while in Portland lots of little minor inconveniences add up to a major problem for cyclists wanting to use the new bike friendly bridge. Sometimes the 'details' are quite large - there's no amount of flashing high-tech signage that's going to make a hideous layout safe, while closing at 6pm is a fairly obvious flaw in what's supposed to be a cycling link but recent criticisms of Chicago's latest rail trail miss the mark. Even in the Netherlands, sometimes they don't get the details right (we'll take it off their hands, if they like...) - and the Danes appear to have just discovered the ASL - but at least the recent Strava data shows that Dutch infrastructure is not just for pootling, if it shows anything. Sometimes, even for the most battle hardened of cyclists a little dedicated infrastructure, even if it's a bit rubbish, is welcome - and if the surface isn't quite up to Dutch standards, even bad Dutch standards, spectacular auyumn colour can go a long way to mitigate the inconvenience (as long as it's not so bad it just makes things worse - perhaps because the designer has been following the real secret design guidelines that the UK has been following all these years).

Times a'changing?

Could it be that things are changing though? For not only are cycle-friendly authorities like Camden to trial doubling capacity on the Tavistock Place cycle track to reflect the fact that bikes make up the bulk of the traffic on that street so should perhaps get a bit more space but Glasgow, not always the most forward-looking of cities for cycling - surprises itself and everyone else by building some decent segregated infrastructure - and is considering wider 20mph limits and possibly even one-way segregated cycle tracks rather than the two-way ones it's built up to now. Elsewhere, Nottingham starts work on its first 'cycle superhighway' despite not getting central government funding for its City Ambition bid, while those that did get funding have started work on plans that are much better than they might have been even five years ago - Wilmslow Road in Manchester is looking promising though far from perfect and the Leeds Bradford 'superhighway' is taking shape with some good parts and some of the usual compromises. Meanwhile, the Sustrans Bike Life survey shows widespread support for more investment in cycling - although it would help if we could get our language straight over cycling infrastructure - while Bristol Traffic digs a little deeper into the Bristol data and comes up with some interesting nuggets. Elsewhere, Vancouver votes to tear down the last of its elevated motorways (sadly Toronto opts to keep its ones) having learned from Seattle's mistakes and not completed its original highway plans.

Or not

Of course, elsewhere it was largely business as usual, with Ian Duncan Smith coming out against the Waltham Forest Mini Holland, and budget cuts likely to hit cycling investment - Great Gas Beetle writes to his MP to urge a rethink. In Sutton, plans for cycling don't even get past the first hurdle while in Ireland opposition from farmers stalls Ireland's Dublin to Galway Greenway project. A long-proposed bridge is finally built in the Netherlands showing that even the Dutch can be a bit leery at spending on what is seen as a leisure route while the Philadelphia Bike Coalition looks at the long and winding road that has to be followed to create a bike trail from an old railway line.


One of the issues doing the rounds in the US was whether cycle campaigners are really representative of all cyclists in the US (or the UK - unless you're called Robin) - and indeed whether bike lanes can ever be a priority in some neighbourhoods - although the Slow Roll movement is doing a lot to change the face of both cycling and campaigning. Streetsblog discovers the downside of cycling in 'street clothes' if you're 'biking while black', where adopting the uniform of lycra might actually give you an easier ride, while the Safe Routes partnership points out that street harassment can be one of the hidden barriers to walking or cycling to school. Back in Scotland, Suzanne Forup issues a call to arms to cyclists in Scotland - where the Women's Cycle Forum will be bringing together female cyclists and politicians directly for a spot of 'political speed dating', while in London the Lib Dem and Green Party mayoral candidates respond to the Road Danger Rection Forum's manifesto.

Meanwhile, much campaigning seems to consist of countering the inevitable myths and misinformation that arise whenever cycling comes up - such as whether drivers pay for the roads, or that narrower lanes (to fit in bike lanes) are more dangerous. Sometimes, of course, the objections are so bizarre (take a bow, Donald Trump), there's no need to effectively counter them - and of course the cycle hater has been with us almost as long as the bike - but sometimes it's more distressing, when a recently bereaved young widow can't even say her piece without being interrupted. On the more positive side, even if you're fuelling your self with intensively reared beef you're still emitting less CO2 than driving, walking and cycling can help tackle obesity in some of the worst affected parts of the US - and it's now possible to wear the case for protected bike lanes on a t-shirt ...

A liveable city?

Meanwhile, the discussion continues about what makes for a truly liveable city - with Cardiff actually reporting on its progress. Researchers in the US find that we shouldn't conflate walking and cycling when considering city planning - while Streets MN considers just what goes into a wonderful people-scaled space in Paris - and how easy it would be to replicate it. Oslo has some interesting plans - but can it build a more inclusive cycling culture out of its existing rather sporty base? Grand Forks wonders what it can learn from Copenhagen, while Denver has already learned a lot from its protected bike lane trial. When it comes to planning a bike network St. Louis might want to do some rather than just painting bike lanes in where it's easy, while Minnesota's Nice Ride bike share should be expanded to places where infrastructure has gone in, to cement changes in how people travel. Most cities could see a 68% reduction in white van men if they became cargo-bike men instead while Washington DC cut traffic fatalities by 73% in a decade, making it literally more livable.

Cycling for all

Even in the cities we have - where it can be exhausting trying to cycle in traffic - cargo biking (aggro and all) can be a joy - and the school run a source of daily pleasure - and your child's bikeability course might actually give you some tips to enable you to take on London's traffic (although when you ask the kids themselves they're pretty clear about what they really want to make cycling to school feel safe). At the other end of the age range, once you cut away the jargon conditions that allow older people to cycle can only benefit us all, and some cyclists appear to be unstoppable.

The real lawbreakers

As Cambridge police inadvertently start a social media meme, it's #badlyparkedcars putting cyclists at risk in Belfast, while West Midlands Police seem a little confused over ASLs and the ex head of the Crown Prosecution Service admits that there might be a case for improving prosecutions over cyclists' deaths. The Guardian asks whether cyclists should be allowed to jump red lights - and while there are many arguments to be made both for or against the idea, Darkerside points out that treating all road users as the same isn't one of them. And in fact the real law breakers might turn out to be those ignoring Wales's Active Travel Act, to spend public transport improvement money on ... widening roads.

And finally

To finish off our Halloween theme: we thought that zombie road projects that rose from the dead were persistent ... it turns out that the Thames floating cycle toll path is the ultimate undead project they cannot kill...