The Great Big Fact or Fiction Bike Blog Roundup

Ah, the beginning of April, where any blog-rounder-upper has to tread warily for fear of being caught by the all too plausible spoof - or dismissing a true story for fear it's too far-fetched. We're pretty certain that even the Dutch don't advocate for child's-eye level traffic lights (although maybe they're missing a trick) and that the new Belfast to Dublin superhighway won't be taking space from the trains, nor that Minnesotan deer will be forced to wear hi vis although that last might be entirely plausible here in the UK if the authorities get wind of it. Similarly, if Birmingham did cancel its cycle revolution in favour of a car one how would anybody tell the difference? And while we all had a good laugh at the Dutch self-riding bike it isn't actually all that far fetched, and nor is getting racing car drivers to advocate for lower speeds

All too real

Sadly, the most daring spoof story of all - the government cycling and walking investment strategy without any investment in it was snuck out on a bank holiday weekend rather than the first of April so was all too real - the CTC's Roger Geffen was distinctly unimpressed while Chris Boardman described it as not worth the paper it's written on without significant funding attached. Meanwhile, the infrastructure plan with all the money attached to it mentions cycling just once, making it quite clear where the government's priorities lie. However, that shouldn't be a counsel for despair Kats Dekker argues, but we should be widening the pool of people campaigning for change (and that might include the cycling industry itself) as well as being more ambitious about the population of people we're trying to get cycling. Meanwhile, the Danes have found that a national cycling strategy with actual funding attached can and does work. Funny, that

The strange thing about our politicians' priorities is that they're going against the tide - most of the UK population supports cycling infrastructure (pretty certain that's true, despite the date ...) if only because their house prices will go up and everyone will be less fat and businesses will do better. Of course, we knew all that - but do our politicians?

Election news

It's perhaps inevitable, given London's cycling revolution - and a continuing vision from the outgoing mayor that presents a huge opportunity for cycling and represents a massive turnaround on Boris's part - that the mayoral elections should dominate the bike blogs. In particular, Zac Goldsmith who complained of being 'hounded' by cycle campaigners and whose cycling manifesto fails to offer much clarity - and even when he did finally commit to segregated cycleways it was hedged about with many caveats. There are other candidates of course - Buffalo Bill assesses the performances of all of them at the cycle hustings while Save our Cyclists looks at Zac's and Sadiq's positions as well as Caroline's and Sian's who've both signed for cycling.

For those not in London, there was a chance to do a little 'hounding' of our own, with We Walk, We Cycle, We Vote offering Scottish voters a handy tool to find their candidates' position on active travel - Kim Harding has already been in touch with his. Meanwhile Cardiff voters can do their hounding in person at a hustings event, which if experiences at Edinburgh and Glasgow are anything to go by, should be worthwhile. One Lib Dem politician is definitely not courting the cyclist's vote while Martin Porter is fed up waiting for Cameron's so-called cycling revolution

Better get a bollard or two

As London hogs the headlines, Belfast has been quietly getting on with a cycling revolution of its own, launching its latest protected cycleways, but while the new infrastructure is generally welcomed it's let down by too many gaps where cars can turn across cyclists - NI Cycles takes a closer look. Perhaps what's really needed are a few strategically placed cones - although as drivers in Galway demonstrate, the lengths they'll go to keep parking on a cycle lane are beyond even the powers of bollards to stop them; perhaps that's why parking protected lanes like Manchester's Curry Mile are the way to go.

Designing safety

Safe, inclusive design for cycling shouldn't be a matter of trade-offs and compromise - in fact, as Can't Stand Up for Falling Down explains the roundabout design that would have saved him a nasty tumble on his bike (it's hard to put a foot down when you've only got the one) would also benefit everyone else. In Dublin they're looking for clever ideas to scale up cycling - they might want to start with not putting crossings on cycle routes that it's illegal to cycle across (or indeed blocked by stationary traffic) and spend the money on proper infrastructure instead. Meanwhile the LCC looks at the advantages and disadvantages of one-way streets and Rachel Aldred considers the complexities of modelling traffic on residential streets, while Single Track World points out that blue signs do not a network make, recognising that muddy singletrack is one thing for recreational riding, and quite another for commuting

Consultations and backlash

As the results come in from the CS11 consultation - you know, the one that was going to bring London to its knees and open the Hellmouth - it turns out most people are in favour... next time the objectors had better consult this handy guide to objecting properly. Janette Sadik-Khan's book is a useful reminder of how short lived all these controversies usually are while a professor explains why that empty bike lane could be carrying as many people as a congested street. Not that that stops the antis from blaming cycle lanes for everything from congestion to budget overruns. If you want to get into the mind of those who object to these things then Jeremy Vine's twitter followers are an interesting window into the mindset behind it. Meanwhile, the consultations and trials move on with NewCycling generally in favour of plans for the Great North Road and welcoming plans to trial carriage of bikes on the city's Metro - next stop, adding more bike carriages?

Making cities better

As speakers in a Guardian event display a remarkable degree of agreement about what will get people cycling in the city, Bike Portland celebrates two figures who transformed their respective cities on either coast of the USA, while People for Bikes looks back at how the Green Lane Project spread the idea of protected bike lanes across the US - and produces a guide for cities who want to bring about real and rapid change. This includes inspiration from cities such as Memphis harnessing bottom-up desire for change, and Seattle, where a top-down directive from the mayor put a rocket under his city officials (perhaps something Toronto could do with at the moment).

As one of Seattle's trial bike lanes gets an upgrade and made permanent, the world's first paved roadway (apparently) gets brought into the 21st century with a cycle track in Detroit - but spreading infrastructure to Chicago's more diverse communities may take a little longer, while there are worries that San Francisco's Vision Zero will founder over parking. And in Glagow, GoBike spots a potential off-road route - now it just needs to make it happen.

You'd think that the Dutch already had this sorted, but Maastricht has still got some catching up to do while over the border in Belgium, Flanders wants to emulate the Dutch and the Danes.

Danger on the roads

We don't like to dwell too much on the daily dripfeed of danger and bad driving, but when a Dutch visitor describes cycling in Newcastles as suicide it's probably worth taking notice. And it's tragic that a refugee who survived Syria is killed on a road in Lisburn which has already seen too many deaths with not even a footway and a 50mph limit. As everyday German cyclists make clear they'd rather not cycle with traffic, whatever the road they're moved onto may be called - and even London's 'lycra louts' would rather go Dutch if they could. Perhaps all cycle training really does is condition us to putting up with conditions that can feel like surviving a war zone. We also need to stop concentrating on the actions of the victims rather than the drivers that injured them - and ask ourselves and our loved ones some tough questions about our own driving. As lighter nights bring more child road casualties, it's more important than ever that speed enforcement can take place round all New York's schools, not some small percentage of them - far more effective than a counterproductive and misleading sign. And as Portland police spring into action over road deaths the Cycling Silk considers just what evidence is needed for a conviction over dangerous driving.

The joys of spring

But it is spring - so let's enjoy it, welcome the fair weather cyclists back into the fold, and get ourselves down to Yellowstone where for two weeks cyclists can share the roads with nothing more dangerous than the bears (just remember not to cycle two abreast - the bears hate that). And there was other good news: one cyclist finds himself $1.2million richer after winning a bet, while one drunken bike thief sees the light and returns a stolen bike. And if you want to keep riding into your 80s it's simple: just don't stop.

And finally

A glimpse back into Coventry's past reminds us that there was a time when cycling was the dominant means of transport here in the UK - and surely it can be again