The Great Big Designed to Fail Bike Blog Roundup

Well, Janette Sadik-Khan might have declared the bike wars over last week - but there seem to be plenty more skirmishes to fight if this week is anything to go by. It should hardly need to be said, but well-designed cycling infrastructure shouldn't depend on well-behaved cyclists - in fact it's because some people behave like idiots that good design is needed. As Irish Cycle considers what it takes to provide all-ages and all-ability cycling infrastructure, Copenhagenize points out that we've known what works for a long time and shouldn't try and invent the wheel. Unfortunately our street design guidelines still start from the needs of cars and lorries, not people, and the Leeds-Bradford 'cycle superhighway' illustrates the results, with bizarrely criss-crossing pedestrian and cycling lanes whether you're coming or going - all in the name of not taking any space away from the traffic. In London the Elephant and Castle roundabout is still unacceptably lethal while in Bath schoolchildren get a poorly designed crossing that still represents a tiny improvement - so they're doing better than cyclists in Hackney who will see no benefit from plans for the Stamford Hill junction on the A10, despite an intention to make it safer 'for all road users'. And if all that makes you want to move abroad, in New York they've removed a protected bike lane because they street was 'too narrow', while leaving the car parking untouched, and even the Dutch are not immune to reverting to car-centric ways of thinking. And when it comes to tackling it from within - how much leadership can - and should - highway professionals be showing on active travel?

Design for everyone

As a blizzard in New York reminds the Invisible Visible man that street design is a matter of racial as well as road justice, As Easy as Riding a Bike asks whether cycling infrastructure really does only benefit a tiny privileged elite - or is it the other way round? In fact, even if it weren't the case that (in America at least), it's young people who disproportionately rely on cycling and walking, London's CS11 plans will benefit bus users too - and 20mph limits make things better for drivers. Far from causing congestion, bus lanes and bike lanes can be the answer to it - although it would help if they would hurry up and finish the CS2 works, rather than leave everything 90% done and coned off. Effors to cut rat running will make life more pleasant for residents and pedestrians (as a typical street in Manchester illustrates) - certainly they're keen on the idea in Portland - while in LA roadworks closing through routes make a route suddenly more pleasant as the traffic disappears - just as Northern Ireland's rural roads are lovely until you encounter a car.

Designing safety in

With the US Vision Zero conference delivering key lessons on road safety, it was interesting to learn that the UK Government is committed to the 'safe systems approach' to road safety (although it's not clear how like Vision Zero that really is). In the US, states now have to set targets for bike and pedestrian safety (although the don't seem to have to meet them) - this doesn't quite explain how a Californian town was able to use Safe Routes to School funding to remove bike lanes and widen a road. In the absence of any systemic approach actually manifesting itself on the ground, one anonymous Nottingham cyclist attempts a 'sign make it better' approach to the city's tramlines (it's still better than this Australian example though) - while a Glasgow cyclist puts the magic protective effects of hi vis to the ultimate test.

Backlash continues

While we can all struggle with change if we don't look beyond the immediate inconvenience of it, it doesn't help that anti-bikelane articles are wonderful clickbait at least until the inconvenient facts ruin things for everyone. The result is that every new generation of politicians has to be convinced afresh of the benefits of cycling - especially when the antis are apparently objecting to a very different scheme from that actually planned. Not that it's a UK-only problem - in New York residents object to bike lanes that are just paint on the road, without even disturbing any parking, while a projected delay of 12.8 seconds is leading to calls to water down plans in Minneapolis, and in Toronto it seems once you've gone down that car-dependent path there can be no going back...

Going multimodal

As opposition mounts to cutting spaces for bikes in Scottish trains (and good luck trying to get a non-standard bike on board anywhere), the UK has a long way to go on even such simple things as providing bike parking at stations let alone fully integrating cycling into our city's transport system. Seattle has the opportunity to integrate its bikeshare with its newest light rail - while Chicago considers a different way of integrating railtracks and walking and nice spring weather and an emergency metro closure brings bikes out in their numbers in Washington DC.

Budget Day

It was probably no surprise that the budget focused on road building over more sustainable travel - even as our National Cycling Network has to rely on donations to make good the flood damage of the winter - making both CTC and Sustrans unhappy although at least the Cycle to Work scheme will continue. The London Mayoral election is hotting up with the Greens' Sian Berry signing up for Sign for Cycling, Labour's Sadiq Khan releasing his cycling manifesto, and the Lib Dems, Greens and Labour all backing calls for direct vision lorries. Get Sutton Cycling rides out again with a councillor to have a look at what council policy really looks like on the ground - while Cambridge Cyclist has some advice for candidates responding to questionnaires - such as 'answer the questions', for example... Meanwhile in Australia, New South Wales will not be repealing its latest anti-bike laws as evidence mounts of the damage done by its helmet laws.

As another campaign starts to get a cycle path between Bassingbourn and Royston, Lancaster Dynamo wants to know where the 'near miss black spots' are on its roads. Over in the US, the Wisconsin Bike Federation wonders if the Bike League has become too mainstream in its approach - not an accustion you'd ever level at the Ovarian psycos while activists in Portland remind delegates to the active transportation summit that all is not entirely rosy in the city.


City ambition

Perhaps what's needed is a little more ambition - while Copenhagen lays down the gauntlet to other cycling cities, London's cycling changes do not go far enough, according to the Future Spaces Foundation, perhaps they could start with a bridge between Rotherhithe and Canary Wharf. In Glasgow, plans for a mini holland approach are revealed. In two contrasting pices, Bikefast argues that Belfast's shared-use pavements are a sign of design failure on the part of the city, while the Guardian considers how legalised pavement cycling is making a difference in Taipei. In Auckland, it's all very well building nice cycle tracks but you have to remember to connect them to the surrounding community if they're to really take off - and it's not a good sign if your new wayfinding signs leave people unsure where to go. Sometimes, it's not the plan that's ambitious but the timetable - if only there was the same level of urgency about safety improvements in New York

Encouragement and education

If you think 'Bike Weeks' are a recent invention then think again - cities have been putting out promotional material for decades. It may encourage some to learn that cycling to work keeps you trim - at least if you lay off the donuts - although here are some Brazilian bus drivers who probably won't be taking up cycling any time soon, although they may be giving them more space in future ...

And finally

Think your pedal mounted, solar powered air purifying coffee shop is green? If it doesn't also poo out wild flowers then it's nothing but greenwash....