The Great Big That Was the Year That Was Bike Blog Roundup

Welcome back to the bike blog roundup after our (much needed...) Christmas break. We were going to kick off the year with a look back at some of the issues that shaped 2015 but it turned out that many of our favourite blogs had done just that already. Bicycle Dutch gave us an omnibus video edition of Dutch infrastructure while Ranty Highwayman covered some perhaps less inspiring infrastructure over the year on his blog (but always to a very high level of detail) while Claire Cycles finds inspiration in the money saved by riding a bike instead of her (totally fictional) car. The Fred Awards offered Lovely Bike a look back at 2015 and the great and the good of cycling in Northern Ireland while Philadelphia looks back to a Popetastic visit and Velo Vixen picks out the best of the women's bike blogs. In North America, Streetsblog considers the best street transformation of 2015 while People for Bikes had America's best bike lanes in their sights and Next City considered North America's best bike projects (there may be a bit of overlap in the rankings). Citylab was disappointed to find that 10 traffic myths still hadn't been laid to rest in 2015. However Raise the Hammer found that Toronto has made great strides in the past year - time for Vancouver to raise its game and get its bike mojo back? On social media, looking at their 'tweets of the year', Spokes found that the negative ones about potential loss of cycling facilities tended to garner more attention than their positive ones, while for the cycling academics, it was the tweets about urban transformations that really took off.

Some chose to take a longer view, with Streetsblog looking back on Steve Athineos's life, the man who helped fight the proposed New York midtown bile ban in the 1980s while in Norway a look back to a time when cycling was a means of mass transport helps to lay the myths that 'people won't cycle'. Looking even further back, the Victorian Cyclist considers learning to ride, 1890s style. Meanwhile some were looking forward - sure we've all made a resolution to ride our bikes more in 2016, but Transport Providence has some New Year Resolutions for the local authorities - while Better Bike Share has some ideas about how to make bike share schemes accessible to everyone.

All I want for Christmas ...

There was a slew of announcements over the festive season, most of them welcome, with a last-minute Christmas present for London cyclists in the form of plans for protected space for cyclists on Westminster bridge followed by £148 million for London for road safety, walking and cycling - with Wandsworth delighted to get £3.2 million for safety measures and cycle routes (among other things)- but why is there nothing for cycling in Wandsworth's plans for its gyratory? In Scotland the Scottish Government's Community Link Plus scheme might seem like Christmas come early, at least for one or two lucky local authorities - but it would be better if it wasn't eating into the regular community links budget - especially as Cycling Scotland's report finds that Scotland needs to invest in cycle tracks if it's to have a prayer of meeting its 2020 target. South of the border, Wales reports on its progress implementing the Active Travel act while in England government policy looks good but the cash is lacking - will more devolution help spread the wealth from London out into the regions?

As the Germans hog the headlines opening their first stretch of bike 'autobahn' (while arguing about who will pay for the next 95km of the planned network), the Dutch demonstrat that they can do this sort of thing standing on their heads with only a little bit of fuss about light pollution and amphibian crossings. In Canada, some rural communities design themselves a nice bike loop to join themselves together and just get on with it while in New Zealand, Auckland cyclists get a shiny new underpass just in time for Christmas (although actually what we really all want is the ability to magically turn traffic lights green just as we approach). Not such good news for cyclist in Norwich, though, where a planned segregated track gets downgraded to advisory cycle lanes without warning.

A bike is not just for Christmas

With Christmas being traditionally the time when children try out their new bicycles, Opus is relieved yet somewhat perplexed at the absence of kids-on-new-bikes-getting-hit stories in his news feed - especially as Ziggy the Alien is busy telling us that kids aren't even safe on the pavement and that's somehow their problem and not the drivers'. Fortunately, there are still a few kids who haven't got the memo and are still happily 'taking the lane' - especially as we need to concentrate on the children when it comes to promoting active travel. Perhaps we should start by getting politicians' children onto bikes - but meanwhile it's nice to know that some disadvantaged children will still get an almost-new bike under the tree.

Who's naughty and who's nice

Top of those who should have got coal in their stockings this Christmas are the bike-lashers, and Lord Lawson managed to nip in just before the deadline with the most absurd bikelash claim of 2015, a year which has played host to a few doozies. More seriously, opposition forces a rethink of trial road closures in Hackney while Edinburgh's East-West segregated cycle route are barely on the drawing board before the opposition begins - fortunately Leicester has a bit more backbone and presses ahead with a planned track after a successful trial. Arguing with a couple of trolls gets Ranty Highwayman thinking about the difference between ideological and expert positions, while the Dutch police take trial by twitter to its logical conclusion. Meanwhile in the US, the arrival of the snow quickly shows up who's overstaying their parking while in Portland, naughty elves upgrade a bike lane with traffic cones, which obviously you should never do...

Lies, damned lies & statistics

It being the season of both looking back and looking forward, there were plenty of statistics to play with - although the Department for Transport's traffic predictions are beginning to look a bit more like faith than facts - and it would help if you didn't only count traffic on routes where cars are likely to dominate (but that doesn't mean Bristol can afford to be complacent about cycling levels that its off-road routes have helped build). In Sheffield cycling levels are rising steadily but from a very low base and Ottawa's only protected bike lane has seen a record year. In the US, pedestrian deaths are rising as a share of all fatalities - but while New York's CitiBike has racked up some big numbers in 2015, there have been no serious injuries or fatalities. Finally, whether it's the data behind it or something else, Gicycle is curious about why different online cycle routing services give us such different results for the same trip.

Winter cycling

We may be stuck in 'endless October' here in the UK but elsewhere winter is starting in earnest and Dandyhorse is pleased to see that Toronto is getting a winter maintenance programme for its main bike routes - while Chicago is still getting the hang of keeping its protected lanes clear of snow rather than using them as giant snow piles. Cleared paths aside, People for Bikes has some practical tips for winter cycling, although really all you need is a few more layers ... and perhaps a Christmas tree.

Policy and campaigning

Just before Christmas, the Paris climate change summit seemed to herald a breakthrough in global policy - Irish Cycle summarises why cycling has to be part of any low carbon future - it's just a shame that the Scottish government doesn't seem to have joined up the dots with its latest draft budget not looking good for active travel - perhaps Holyrood needs more cycling politicians like Westminster's (or then again, maybe not). In England, 'cycle proofing' of trunk roads might just offer a few decent new routes, and all without dipping into the miniscule cycling budget. As the film 'Bikes vs Cars' highlights the struggle for more liveable cities all around the world, Delhi takes drastic measures to cut car use and ease pollution and congestion - perhaps a lesson for America, which won't see significant mode shift until it breaks out the stick as well as the carrot - although perhaps a reverse congestion charge with commuters rewared for cycling might do the trick. One thing to remember is that traffic isn't 'traffic' - it's a load of people making decisions, and those decisions can change (unless it is just all self-driving cars which may not be the answer some people hope they will be).

On the campaigning side, Kats Dekker looks at how (some) cyclists become campagners while in Grease Rag one writes about why she gave up. Beyond the Kerb considers the knotty issue of presumed liability - while the Invisible Visible man asks if it's the criminal justice system that needs to be fixed first; it seems that swift, certain and fair punishments are the most effective way to change driver behaviour.

Design issues

Holidays or no holidays, there were still bloggers looking in detail at design issues, with SF Gate asking if a raised bike lane was still a protected bike lane - either way, it's better than 'Ian Rankin' infrastructure. Hank Chief looks in detail at plans for the A8, which will improve conditions for those already cyclign but won't tackle the major problems. Bicycle Dutch considers alternatives to the bollard - perhaps they could send them to Belfast where there is a surfeit of rat-running. Traffik in Tooting considers the case of the disappearing Cycling Level of Service Assessments (quietly stifled in a back alley, we reckon) while Kennington People on Bikes wonders just how thoroughly planning requirements get followed up once permission has been given

If you don't like the way I drive ... stay off the pavement

With the news that Google's cars are being rear-ended for not being aggressive enough - while slower cyclists are found more likely to be involved in collisions - is it that all we need is a little training and all will be well? Perhaps we should tell that to the road furniture - and even the houses that just failed to get out of the way quickly enough from someone in a hurry (we can only hope that one of these drivers ends up falling foul of this tree which would surely have an Audi for lunch). And no, putting a sticker on the back won't make it better. On the other hand, Washington DC's plans for do seem to be a good start - while in Amsterdam, the Dutch police will have a huge headache on their hands if they want to check every bike for explosives.

Bike make it better

Exploding ones aside, we'll leave you on a cheery note, with all the ways that bicycles make things better - from escaping over-friendly men to getting out and recharging your batteries with a bit of nature. Being out on a bike might mean you can be alert to a suicidal person and make sure they seek help - or rescue an abandoned puppy - or (for the police) follow your nose...

And finally - if you've overindulged somewhat over the Christmas break, fear not: it just means you will be faster than ever in 2016