The Great Big Don't Blame the Victim Bike Blog Roundup

Yesterday was the World Day of Remembrance for Traffic Victims (not that we should forget the role of bikes in the First World War either) marked across the US, including in New York where the city's mayor was to stand alongside families affected in remembrance. Sadly it was also marked by the usual amount of victim blaming whether they be pedestrians or kids out celebrating Halloween or just general injunctions to share the road - time to stop talking about accidents and start calling them crashes (and maybe a little bit more 'victim blaming' for those who get caught speeding on camera)? When Volvo's Life Paint came out, some criticised it as being yet scope for victim blaming, but it turns out the real problem is it just doesn't work very well - while advice for riders doesn't seem to have changed that much over the last 100 years

Victim blaming, legal style

The more serious consequences of the assumption that the cyclist's place is in the wrong happen when it reaches the courts, with an inquest finding that there is no need to slow down when driving in conditions where you can't see a lit cyclist - with the implication that the cyclist shouldn't have been there in the first place and a concentration on what the cyclist was wearing - perhaps we should be educating the prosecutors as victims of road crime are to get more rights under law - but still no right to review the decision not to prosecute. Enforcement of other infringements doesn't seem to be a problem with a Cambridge PCSO attempting to arrest a journalist for photographing a police car parked in a bike lane, while enforcement of jay walking laws, bike parking and even minimum speeds seems to have got out of hand in the US. On the positive side, it looks as if New Zealand will be strengthening its safe passing rule, giving bikes more space at higher speeds.

Building for everyone

Ranty Highwayman marked 20 years of the Disability Discrimination Act by looking at the difference it has made to our streets although there's still a long way to go before all transport choices are truly accessible - as the Welsh active travel conference found. The barriers preventing under-represented groups from cycling are complicated but fortunately the solution - direct convenient routes away from traffic - should work for everyone (or we could just ask a child). We shouldn't allow different groups of cyclists to be played off against each other, ensure that investment is evenly distributed and remember that residents of suburban communities are just as deserving of safer streets and slower speeds as those in urban cores. As Portland campaigners try to reach out to a more diverse community, and Cycles for Change ask how minorities perceive cycling, we also need to remember that lack of equity comes in many different forms from kids not being able to get to mountain bike trails to weight limits on bike share bikes - while data on the demographics of bike share users may be distorted by neglecting casual users. And even among those most committed to reducing their car use once your kids get large enough to ride independently even a city like Seattle is a struggle to navigate

Battling bikelash

The saga of the mini Hollands rumbles on but all three boroughs won significant victories this week, with the silent majority proving more positive about Enfield's plans than the antis would have you believe - while Waltham Forest's antis seeming to boast about wasting council tax payers' money on legal challenges. It seems that the objections to proposed bike lanes are wearyingly familiar wherever you go, with small groups making last-minute demands and attempting to hold up progress. The consequences can be damagning, with councillors' unwillingness to lose a handful of parking spaces to a hire bike station out side the university hampering Galway's scheme from the off - if you want to have the most impact, you need to put your bike share bikes in a prime location. In the US, the John Wayne trail is almost dismantled and only temporarily saved by a typo - can it come back stronger than ever? And it's not that all residents' groups are unpersuaded by cycling infrastructure: public consultations in Queens and Manhattan have seen residents call for protected bike lanes rather than weaker alternatives.

Joined up thinking?

As cities in Washington state start to draw up plans to link up disconnected bike lanes that have gone in piecemeal as money becomes available, a map of Philadelphia's bike infrastructure once you take out the 'sharrows' shows how disjointed it is. Minneapolis's complete streets policy is a good start but needs to properly become the default option, with no cop-outs if there's no space or no money - see for example what Copenhagen does when it needs to link a residential development with public transport.

Consultation watch

Whether the latest round of consultations leads to similar joined-up thinking in the UK is anyone's guess but fire up your keyboards to comment on the Clapham Common Quietway and the city of London one, the choice between segregated space or wider mandatory lanes on Westminster Bridge, and increased modal filtering in Hackney's De Beauvoir. Elsewhere, Cardiff is consulting on its parking strategy and Lancaster Dynamo considers whether horses and bikes can safely mix on the Lancaster to Morecambe greenway. And while consultations might be all well and good, it doesn't really help if what actually gets built isn't as designed, and it all has to be hurriedly redone.

Designing in safety...

Meanwhile, it is the design of our streets that continues to impact on safety just as much as the behaviour of individual cyclists - from issues at the Oval to a Manchester contraflow cycle lane that seems to give bikes the worst of all worlds. A head start for bikes might make negotiating Edinburgh's tram tracks less nerve wracking (something for Dublin to consider as it extends its system?) while Melbourne seems to expect its cyclists to manage ninety degree turns off four-lane roads. Even in the Netherlands, poor design leads to mass red-light jumping hence the trial of the personalised green wave. At least cyclists can exploit the easy transition between walking and cycling to get around poorly designed crossing lights - while countdown timers on pedestrian crossings further disadvantage those on foot. As the US launches its Global Street Design Guide, Streetfilms gathers together all 50 of its short protected bike lane videos for ease of access - and cities across America agree: Cleveland has put its buffered bike lane in backwards.

... and designing out cars

The UK has no shortage of ring roads, what it needs is to combine them with measures to cut cars, contrast with Amsterdam, which used numberplate analysis to discover that a lot of its motorised traffic didn't need to be there, and plans measures to cut traffic further. A portrait of a somewhat controversial figure in Portland unpicks some of the land use policies that can support or subtly discourage walkable cities, while planning issues make the mainstream in America with a comic animation on bad planning and car ownership.

Money talks

Despite news that the world coud save $25 trillion by 2050 if more people cycled, the Department for Transport in the UK (technically, England) has agreed a 30% spending cut in the latest round (although it did manage a small sum to help electrify Outspoken Delivery) and you can bet that it won't be the big projects like HS2 that suffer, it will be 'buses, bikes and boots' that bear the brunt, although the All-Party Parliamentary Group is urging the chancellor to safe cycle funding, and writing to your MP might help. Meanwhile, as Newcastle pays the price of road-centric policies, Washington DC proposes introducing demand-pricing for parking rather than a flat fee.

Data driven

As Spokes Lothan continues its hunt for Edinburgh's mystery 500,000th cyclistbike counts in the city were down although they still made up 20% of vehicles on some roads. Elsewhere, Cambridge's guided busway is boosting cycle commuting among those who live near it, while Oxford's bike lanes are suffering from congestion (but imagine if they were all in cars). On the other hand, UK road-traffic volumes are rising again while in Ireland overall cycling levels are down and while the statistics on casualties aren't great, cycling is still only a tiny bit more dangerous than climbing a ladder.

City by City

Around the world, Portland has plans to upgrade cycling infrastructure at a busy junction (from 'terrifying' to just 'pretty scary', judging by the pictures) but more importantly its policy may be to move towards protected bike lanes as standard while other proposed rules might mean giving new residents or employees $600 for a new bike or other alternatives to the car. In California, as San Francisco installs its first raised cycle track with a variety of experimental kerb options, LA is finding itself surrounded as protected cycle lanes creep up to its borders, while Beverley Hills decides, four years on, that updating its 1977 bicycle master plan is no longer a priority, if it ever was - and Dublin doesn't seem to have been much speedier over its Liffey cycle route. In Mexico City, car-free Sundays, night rides and protected bike lanes are building a cycling culture. Twenty articles by Tokyo by Bike will soon get you up to speed on cycling in Tokyo while PushBikes discovers lots of things in Schleswig-Holstein that Birmingham could do well to copy. In Milwaukee, they try colourful paint to turn redundant parking spaces into a place for people - something that could liven up some staircases too.

Taking action

Obviously, we could never recommend that you get your paint out and try the same approach locally - even if you do want to highlight a dangerous pothole - but there's plenty individuals can do, from helping out with Bristol's community speed watch groups make the city's 20 mph limits more effective - to using your mobile phone to gather data on speeding cars. In Edinburgh, the Women's Cycle Forum mixes wine, women and, er politicians for a more casual style of hustings event than usual, while People for Bikes likes to start their campaigners young. And even if you don't yourself cycle much, you can still identify as a Bicycleist just as men can be feminists.

Bike make it better

We do like to end this roundup on a positive note if we can - whether it's good news story about a stolen bike, or a charity supplying bikes to refugees getting recognition for their efforts but we really hope that this sad story of a widowed tandem stoker finds a happy ending. This week, research gave us yet another reason to keep pedalling, while a year of cycling more doesn't just leave you fitter but also happier (although maybe you'd be better off on the bus. Sorry). In Austin, a pedal-powered compost scheme has more takers than it can handle - while after a nasty car smash, moving at a human speed can feel safer, despite it being business as usual from the drivers. And finally, nothing can make the horrific news from Paris (and elsewhere) much better, but a bike-towed piano is at least a start.