The Great Big Double-Dutch Bike Blog Roundup

It comes up every year - the 'Dutch style' cycling infrastructure that turns out to be not quite all it's cracked up to be. This year's 'double dutch' story seems to have come early with Northumberland's 'Dutch style' centreline removal treatment - but is it fundamentally misunderstanding the context the Dutch would use such an approach? And is it even a step in the right direction or making things worse? And even if it is an incremental improvement Beyond the Kerb argues that the CTC should be concentrating on creating real space for cycling rather than small changes. In a similar vein, London's quietways - which could, if properly designed manage the sort of 'unravelling of routes' the Dutch do so well simply won't working as currently designed - and might actually do more harm than good.

Designing for cycling ... or designing cyclists?

Bike bloggers can be accused of picking holes in well-meaning plans, but when it comes to designing for cyclists, getting it right does matter. Or, to put it another way: you get the cyclists you design for, which in some cases might be nobody but Danny Macaskill, if it takes a stunt cyclist to use a route, (or indeed pedalo riders) rather than the commuters who might otherwise benefit. It doesn't help if cycling is strongly associated with wearing lycra as that encourages leisure routes rather than utility routes - and in the main the slower your city's cyclists go the better - the contrast with the typical experience of a London cyclist or one in LA couldn't be greater. Meanwhile Cardiff by Bike attempts to crowd source an east-west route through the city that's suitable for loved ones and in Berlin they seem to be designing one for cyclists who would like to stay out of the rain as well as the city's traffic. And it's not just about cycling and cyclists either - in a really interesting and paradoxically eye-opening post, Space for Gosforth looks at how our high streets design out the visually impaired while in the south of England it seems we're only building roads fit for hi vis animals.

So, having established it's important, back to the nit picking, with Dublin's latest street redesign seemingly intended to bring everyone into conflict while plans for Arbury Road in Cambridge might be an improvement but still leave a lot to be desired while Bath wants to downgrade a separate cycle path into a shared use one with pedestrians. In another entry in the 'anything but a kerb' design stakes, Portland tests rumblestrips to keep cars out of bike lines. Meanwhile Seattle works out how to design a wheeling ramp that works with requirements for handrails, and New York is to upgrade a doorzone bike lane into a parking-protected one and California finally gets design guidelines on building protected bike lanes.

Build it and they will come...

... whether it's Houston's multilane freeway or Christchurch's newest cycle ways. Johannesburg has been experimenting for a month with getting people out of their cars by all manner of means, while Philadelphia found that as parking provision fell, so too did parking occupancy rates - something that might encourage cities to 'take the pledge' to remove parking minimums. As Bristol Traffic looks back nostalgically to the days before the 'war on the motorist' reshaped the city centre, Bicycle Dutch celebrates how Utrecht lost - and then refound - its moat (it was under a redundant motorway all along). Meanwhile, Portland seems to be operating a 'one in, one out' policy for cycling infrastructure - although there are plenty of places in the city that would benefit from a low-stress bike loop, not just the city centre (and you never know, it might help raise house prices). Meanwhile, Madrid is hoping to replicate Seville's success with plans to build separated bike lanes while in Scotland the revamped Caledonia Way is expected to bring in hundreds of millions of pounds in tourism spending.

Fail to plan and plan to fail

Highways England publishes its four-page cycling strategy - a fair chunk of which is taken up by an infographic extolling the benefits of investing in cycling, despite investing hardly anything actually in cycling. Scotland might be doing slightly better but is spending nothing like the amounts its own agency's report says is needed to achieve a decent modal share - Spokes has a short-term plan to stop the rot and Scots have already been emailing their MSPs about it while for viewers in England, now is the time to get your views in to the National Infrastructure Commission consultation (sadly, not the kind of infrastructure we normally mean by the word). Manchester's strategic plan for its city centre isn't very strategic and lacks an overall vision for the city centre (other than that it's fine). Newcastle need to stop thinking tactically on cycling, or indeed, just improvising, while Sutton's draft strategy might talk the talk on cycling but they don't even keep cars parking in bike lanes on the actual ground. And finally, while we were all ready to welcome our new Dutch overlords for the next six months they sadly have no plans to get us all cycling during their tenure of the European presidency.

Politics resumes

Anyone thinking 'elections, didn't we just have those last May?' should look away now as Bristol and London gear up for their mayoral elections - where Boris is to investigate the pedestrianisation of Oxford St after most of those campaigning to succeed him have promised to do so - and where it's the outer London cyclists who have been short changed. Across the board, politicians might be surprised to learn how many of their constituents don't own cars - fortunately there's a map for that. Looking locally, Richmond residents want to know where their Olympic legacy went while Sticks and Wheels is petitioning for better cycling plans for Wandsworth town centre.

Further afield, Philadelphia's new mayor gets off to a promising start, while California is to get $100m to implement 'low carbon roads'. With the major legislative battle of last year now done, Safe Routes to Schools considers what campaigners' priorities should be. And the next time someone starts arguing about road tax consider this historical curiosity - Dutch cyclists once did pay 'road tax' - until the Nazis abolished it.

Bike share

As Merseyrail's Bike & Go scheme gets off to a fairly slow start, in San Francisco they're pondering how best to expand their scheme so that it serves everyone. New York's CitiBikes has already overtaken London in numbers of rentals last year (Paris might have done better if all its Velibs weren't apparently at the bottom of a canal). Nike agrees to sponsor Portland's bikeshare scheme but what does it all mean - perhaps more pressure for proper cycling infrastructure in the city centre?


Us and them or just us>

As Peter Walker offers his colleagues in the media some advice before they launch into print on cycling, As Easy as Riding a Bike agrees that while it's not helpful to see things too much in black and white, neither is 'tribalising' people based on their current transport choice. In the US, Streetsblog looks at what happens when a local paper becomes and advocate for safer cycling instead of handing out the pitchforks while Bicycling magazine decides some people just need to get out on their bikes more. Elsewhere, Brazil maps the many and varied groups working for cycling across the country - while cycle chic seems to be fading away; what will be the next internet sensation?

Winter blues

One downside of protected bike lanes is that, in Chicago at least, they end up full of snow when people clear the sidewalks, although to be fair the picture is a little patchy for the regular bike lanes as well (and for those thinking 'the Dutch do this better' - it turns out even the Dutch are defeated by gnarly enough black ice). And spare a little sympathy too for the Californian cyclists dealing with terrible wintry weather conditions, also known as 'rain'...

Health and safety

As Washington DC is building support for its Vision Zero plans, in Texas they'd just like a single day without a traffic death - but a hashtag alone isn't going to help that. Nor will banning cyclists in California from riding in earphones - especially as it's not really anything new. Meanwhile, bearing in mind the 'health' part in health and safety, we learned to nobody's great surprise that London's cyclists are much fitter than its other commuters

And finally

Cyclists - they're all smug, green, vegetarian, sandal wearing, muesli-munching ... oh no wait, hang on. Bet nobody argues with him when he decides to take the lane.