The Great Big Here Comes Everybody Bike Blog Roundup

It was meant as a snide remark but peoople like 'Madge' - and not just Madge are exactly the sort of users we should be welcoming seeing on London's new cycle superhighways, as well as four-year-olds on the Bearsway. Mass cycling isn't about forcing everyone to cycle, it's about giving people the option if that's what makes sense, and it's encouraging that the AA sees that it's not about us and them while the American equivalent gets behind Vision Zero. Meanwhile, from Copenhagen to Wisconsin the Cycling Without Age trishaws offer 'an elegant conveyance' for those who are no longer so nimble on their feet - compare and contrast with how Glasgow treats its older residents - while bikes give asylum seekers in Manchester the freedom of the city. In fact, perhaps it's not surprising that aggregated bike counts just go up and up...


As Kats Dekker reminds us, culture does matter when it comes to cycling - but it's the culture of the decision makers that's the real deciding factor - hence the various election campaigns which are starting to hot up are important for cycling. In London, the LCC launches its Sign for Cycling campaign for the mayoral elections. Already Zac Goldsmith's pronouncements on cycling are looking worrying to Cyclists in the City while Caroline Pidgeon for the Lib Dems supports safer lorry cab designs (which Boris Johnson claims is also an EU referendum issue as those dastardly foreigners try to block plans). In Scotland, having digested what the latest budget means for active travel Spokes summarises what voters in the Edinburgh area can do to influence the elections (apart from vote of course) - while We Walk We Cycle We Vote gets campaigners fired up for the coming campaign and beyond. In Northern Ireland, Bikefast don't just watch the Alliance Party's election broadcast for you, they analyse it frame-by-frame. Portland is also having a mayoral campaign and its candidates debate transportation while Taipei's mayor shows his commitment to cyclign by bunking off Velo-City to go for a bike ride instead - right across the island. In the US, the Bike League will be taking some key asks to Congress as part of the National Bike Summit - but interestingly, in a country where politics seems hopelessly divided, walking and cycling appear to transcend party lines.

Getting it right first (or maybe the seventh) time

As the Cycling Embassy calls for a sustainable safety approach to road design there was plenty of evidence why new standards might be needed this week. In Leeds, safety fears over side road crossings lead to a compromised route rather than a better design - sometimes existing traffic rules make it impossible to make some junctions safer for cycling. More encouragingly, Belfast, Leicester and Dublin harness the power of the bollard to protect cyclists and upgrade infrastructure - Portland is having to do with traffic cones and 'secret agents' to protect its unprotected bike lanes. In Oxford, no sooner has one researcher heard about the dangers of a new junction than he experiences it directly for himself while in Northern Ireland it will take open heart surgery rather than a facelift to get the Comber Greenway up to Dutch standards. In Perth (Australia, rather than Scotland) plans for a shared path look even less convincing when combined with a lot of 'placemaking' furniture - perhaps the designers could have looked at this Streetfilms round up of what makes a great public space work - or looked at some great initiatives in Mexico City.

Consultation (and strategy) watch

If the authorities are to get it right first time we can help by feeding into consultations - but you may be busy, especially if you're based in London. The LCC gathers up all those pre-election consultations in one place for easy reference. In Tower Hamlets, plans for Cable Street don't seem to be detailed enough to assess what the impact would be although Tower Hamlet Wheelers support the filtered permeability approach. Richmond Cycling Campaign responds to the Hammersmith gyratory consultation, Lambeth Cyclists summarises plans for Quietway 7, the LCC urges you to ask for Space for Cycling on Seven Sisters Road, and Wandsworth is consulting on 20mph limits - and so might Cardiff be soon, while Dublin considers the Quietway approach. In Belfast, NI Cycles considers the Linen Quarter plans which don't really go far enough to create people-friendly streets and generally could be more ambitious and Coventry's proposed travel plan for its latest technology campus is full of holes when it comes to cycling infrastructure.

It's not just individual schemes out to consultation, but whole strategies: East Cambridgeshire's draft transport strategy needs feedback - and Cycle Sheffield urges residents to let the city know that many of the problems identified in the city's Green Report could be tackled by a decent cycle network - and Cardiff's residents have already told the city they'd like better and safer-feeling cycling infrastructure

Facts on the ground

Of course, the authorities can have a wonderful plans and strategies - but that means nothing if it can't join them up or fund them or if they just get gradually watered down or ignored altogether when it comes to implementation. Wales garnered a lot of excited comment with its Active Travel Act; one year on and it's fair to say it's got off to a slow start - but will the Active Travel Action Plan start to address some of those issues? Other places have done better - after a bit of a lull New York is powering ahead with plans for protected bike lanes, and 10 years on, Washington DC has in some ways outperformed its own 2005 bike plan - perhaps showing how irrelevant these long term plans can be. The US's cycling and walking benchmark report shows that, for all the noise about its plans, Seattle still lacks infrastructure although it does offer a relatively safe walking and cyclign environment - but the US as a whole has a long way to go even before it measures up to Germany. But perhaps we're barking up the wrong tree and it's time to question why we need cars in our cities at all - especially those parts which are just clogged up with through traffic that's coming in from eslewhere.

Whatever works?

Sometimes we need to take a pragmatic approach and look at what works: for instance, road pricing is stil lthe most effective way to manage excessive car use (and the jury is out on paying people to cycle). In some cases, where through traffic has been eliminated shared spaces can work - while a mish mash of confusing designs doesn't seem to stop Tokyo from being a bike-friendly city. In Newcastle, if a junction is dangerous and there's no willingness to fix it for vulnerable road users, then perhaps re-route traffic away from it instead (after all there's little point adding cycling infrastructure 'bling' to a junction when the rest of the streetscape is hostile to walking and cycling). In Bristol, why bother spending more reinstating a bridge to carry motorised traffic when it's safe enough for walking and cycling only? Meanwhile Dutch consultants make the case for longer amber lights to make roads safer - and a training firm discovers that training is the key to getting people cycling ...

Battling backlash

Twitter can be a double-edged sword for cycle campaigning at times - but when Belfast councillors claimed that no residents were in favour of the city's planned Gasworks Bridge, it was able to fix that for them (and how about a foot and bike ferry on the route while they wait?). The Friends of Bears Way is pleased to get a sympathetic airing in the local press while Streets MN and Cycling Christchurch both have suggestions for making your campaigning more effective. In New York, the Department of Transport actually calls the bluff of all those 'we love bike lanes but not on our street' naysayers - while out on the trails in the US it's sad when natural allies like mountain bikers and hikers turn to sabotage rather than discovering where their common interests lie.


For all the mounting evidence that it's not traffic that brings prosperity, when it comes to big box stores, they won't provide decent bike parking unless they're made to or shamed into it - despite the enormouse amount you can carry if you've got the right bike. The bottom line is that cars just take up too much space (except possibly in the Netherlands where finding space for all those bikes is an endless talk) - and 'drive thru' cities won't attract the creative and knowledge based industries, or the tourists or even theatre-goers that economies need. But it's not just for campaigners and city authorities to make the case - as Trek's CEO argues, the bike industry itself should be doing more to advocate for cycle-friendly streets as they have started to at Velo-City - and in a smaller way in London

Doctors' orders

If they won't listen to bike companies, will doctors have any greater effect? Certainly they're trying, urging us to walk and cycle more to counter pollution, while NHS England considers plans for healthy new towns. Certainly Norway seems to have taken the lesson on board and if bike share schemes are designed with public health goals in mind, they need to be more equitably distributed.

International Women's Day

Belfast and Manchester will both be hosting IWD events to celebrate the link between women, bikes, and emancipation - topical, as a YouGov survey shows even more supportive than men of decent cyclign infrastructure. Even so, it can take women a bit of persistence to find out what works for them, especially with children in tow - while female bike messengers really shouldn't have to bear the brunt of harassment on the street and in the offices they visit.

Law enforcement

With news that New South Wales is now fining cyclists more than motorcyclists for the same offences - but that police won't be enforcing the new safe passing laws on motorists any time soon - it's possibly surprising that elsewhere in Australia political inquiries into helmet laws show that the senators seem well briefed and understand the issues. Elsewhere helmet laws could hamper Vancouver's bike share plans - while Portland would seemingly need a law that says don't jam your vehicle into a bike lane and then abandon it there...

And finally

If you're depressed about twitter spats and divisions among cyclists, the excellent Victorian Cyclist is a great source of perspective - where do you stand on the great Safety Bicycle debate?