The Great Big Cusp of a Revolution? Bike Blog Roundup

OK, so maybe that's an exaggeration, but it's true that we seem to stand at a crossroads here in the UK, between business as usual or a genuine transformation of our streets for the better. Which path we take depends as much on us as our politicians - and Joe Dunckley sets out in graphic form where the intersection lies between what works and what is politically feasible. Certainly, as Kats Dekker reminds us, insisting that cycling is fun when far too often it isn't, has got us as far as it's going to go.

What works

High on the 'what works' scale is a network of cycling infrastructure so ubiquitous that its users don't even notice it's there - meaning we have to leave it to the Americans to celebrate protected bike lanes with their own special week - and to simulate how protected intersections would work in an American context. Meanwhile there was more evidence that building infrastructure increases cycling and that how your city is laid out affects the way you get around, while Laura Laker reminds us that bike lanes are a feminist issue; there can be no cycling revolution without women.

They're building it ...

If the bike blogs are anything to go by, the UK is littered with almost finished cycle routes (of varying quality) at the moment. Ranty Highwayman reports on the latest London infrastructure safari in kerbtastic detail, while not to be outdone, Just Step Sideways checks out progress on the Wilmslow Road cycle route in four parts, finding it's a bit of a mixed bag at the start, then disappears at Withington town centre before becoming mainly shared pavement and is still something of a work in progress at Rusholme. Unfortunately Leigh's guided busway and cycle path has a way to go before it can make the same impact as the Cambridge one has - while TfL's plans for the A24 are seriously disappointing given the quality of what's being put in in central London. Across the Irish sea, the 45 km Waterford Greenway will be superb when it's finished while Christchurch is starting to see the first fruits of the city's cycle plan.

Bollards to that

Of course, the number one requirement of nice segregated cycling infrastructure is that the drivers don't simply drive on it anyway - no wonder Portland has stopped messing around and started putting in serious concrete barriers to stop unwanted cars. You'd also hope that cyclists would be able to actually cycle on a cycle route, instead of having to dismount at every crossing, let alone plough through the mud. Meanwhile, for those still stuck on the roads a £50 million pothole fund isn't going to fill a lot of holes

Politically feasible?

Bringing about change means getting our politicians on board - and there's no better time to do that than during an election. In London, Chris Boardman has been trying to speak to every mayoral candidate in person (guess who's proving particularly hard to pin down), while the LCC notes that the women have all signed for cycling, including the Women's Equality Party who want to see a 50:50 modal share, whereas the chaps are having a bit of a wobble - perhaps a bit of contact from their electorate might stiffen their sinews a bit. Sadiq Kahn gets quizzed online by cyclists while Save our Cyclists runs the rule over the Green party manifesto - but will any of them prove a true cycling politician by being immortalised on Google streetview on a bike?

Not that the elections are confined to London - across the country, campaigns are united in pressing for more investment as Pedal on Parliament asks for more than warm words and Jon Snow helps chase up those who haven't even provided any warm words. As local groups lead the way up and down the country, Bikefast looks in vain for more than a glimpse of a passing bike in the parties' political broadcasts, cyclists gather to quiz cyclists in Cardiff and Back on my Bike hits the campaign trail with one of the cuter campaigning accessories, a small child. Further afield, they're electioneering in Portland too.

That war on the motorist in full

The language of politics is all about clashes and strife - but it seems that despite the stirrers best efforts there's no real conflict between joggers and cyclists on the (unfinished) superhighways - and that most people support the plans for CS11 despite noisy opposition because most people in the UK are either neutral or positive towards cycling infrastructure and besides the evidence suggests that incentivising walking and cycling really shouldn't impinge on motorists at all. Still, that hasn't stopped those working on cycle routes in Essex from being abused possibly due to the Jekyll and Hyde effect that British motorists suffer from when they get behind the wheel (perhaps the real problem is that bikes don't sufficiently look like little tiny cars). Meanwhile in the US, campaigners are looking at bringing the taxi drivers and others on board for vision zero.

City transformations

Still working through the Dutch 'Cycling City' shortlist, Bicycle Dutch considers how fifteen years of concerted investment have transformed Nijmegen for the better, while Bike SD considers the difference four years of campaigning have made. Seville is reaping the benefits of concentrated investment ten years on - and Calgary also went for the big bang approach. A gallery of before and after shots show what transformations can be wrought once streets are designed for people instead of cars while Seattleites get a tantalising glimpse of what their city would be like if it genuinely prioritised walking and cycling. Not that every city has a vision - or at least one that isn't blocked by a road sign - Space for Gosforth goes through the North East's transport authority's manifesto for transport while Dunedin's cycling strategy hasn't really delivered, and Fort Collins started talking about cycle lanes back in 1963 (and even then there wasn't room to fit them in, apparently). A shame because bikes can free up a huge amount of space in a city - and a thriving bike industry creates three times more jobs than car firms do.


Martin Porter's post on why juries are failing cyclists and pedestrians when it comes to road deaths caused quite a stir (although even when drivers plead guilty sentences for causing death at the wheel are still pretty derisory) and he answers some of the criticisms it provoked on his own blog. In Australia, the Bike Network defends its position on minimum passing distances as doing more harm than good in some cases. In Poland, licences for cycling may become mandatory despite the fact that it's the laws of physics as much as anything that makes even the most out of control cyclist not much of a danger to others. In Cyprus, a law to fine motorists who park in the bike lanes also comes with penalties for cyclists, while Lancaster Dynamo gets a glimpse of the complexities of enforcement when responsibility is shared between the police and the council. The AP style guide at least wakes up to the fact that not all crashes are accidents even if it still seems to make that the default expectation - while one lone superhero takes on the crime the police neglect, reuniting bike owners with their stolen steeds.

Health 'n' Safety

We often forget about the health part of health'n'safety - but the World Health Organization points out that we face crippling costs if we don't build cycle infrastructure and Bikefast rounds up all the evidence for Northern Ireland, showing that cycling is much more than a transport issue (and can even be a form of meditation in the cities). On the safety side, in 1938 road deaths were taken properly seriously - but now it seems we've just run up the white flag and surrendered on traffic deaths although New York may get more Vision Zero funding, and the safe routes to school programme is fighting back in New York while Bike Delaware recognises that pedestrians' safety is just as important as cyclists'.

Big data

Bike bloggers do like the odd statistic or two, and this week was no exception with the Urbanist considering how safe and how significant cycling is in Australia - while others consider why bikeshare bikes seem to be safer than your own. With nine months having passed without a cyclist being killed by another vehicle in London - is it too soon to say if the safer lorry scheme is working? This might be the sort of question Microsoft's vision zero project could answer. A spoof turns serious, as the Pedestrian Pain Index looks like it could have legs (and there are already safety indexes for pedestrians in some cities anyway).

And finally - we've all had a good laugh at Boaty McBoatface but there's a more fitting contender in memory of a cyclist and a scientist who braved the polar wastes - only to be killed on the streets of London. For some families, whenever the revolution arrives, it will be too late