The Great Big Only Connect Bike Blog Roundup

It seemed this week that the mantra 'build it and they will come' got a bit of a codicil - 'once it forms a decent network' - certainly Auckland seems to be experiencing network effect as disjointed bits of infastructure start to connect up, as is San Francisco and so might be New York if only the authorities got round to releasing the data. Look for similar climbs elsewhere: in Seattle as its neighbourhood greenways start to join up, in Belfast as it starts expanding its network to the west and in Portland were a small bridge over a freeway would do a big job in joining up neighbourhoods; LA, meanwhile, seems to be going for the opposite effect with disjointed bike routes.

A numbers game

In fact it seemed quite a week for traffic numbers, whether pedal powered or the other kind - starting with a very useful traffic engineer's explanation of why taking out a lane of traffic doesn't cause the sort of congestion you might expect - quick, somebody tell Lothian Buses - as well as helping stop people from crashing into buildings. More generally, changing how the US measures congestion could have a big impact on road building - while recording where people commute to as well as where they commute from might be helpful for planning purposes. In Toronto, yet another survey confirms that cars are not as important to commerce as shopkeepers think, while students in Pittsburgh would overwhelmingly like to cycle if only the infrastructure was there.

On the other side of the coin, without reductions in motorised traffic, low-infrastructure bike routes, be they neighbourhood greenways or shared space do nothing for cycling and walking, so it's good that filtered permeability in the form of the 'except cycles' sign is reaching Auckland - and possibly also Subverisve Suburbanite's street after a chance encounter on her tandem. For some, the problem seems to be not too much traffic but (possibly) too many cyclists, although the RNIB's concern seems mainly about the removal of a signalised crossing to help visually impaired staff and visitors across the road.


City ambitions

Network effects require ambitious plans, and Helsinki is the latest city to announce exactly that, with a 130km bike network planned, while Chicago can look back on an innovative 2015. When you're coming down from Manchester London's new infrastructure looks pretty good, albeit patchy - sometimes you need a spot of trial and error (but when an apparently experimental bike route proves important then it should be made permanent). Ambition needn't necessarily be ruinously expensive - putting in cycling facilities as part of routine resurfacing can cut costs by 65%, and then your city too can join the #freshkermit celebrations on Twitter. It might seem absurd to think that Glasgow could even begin to compete with other European cities over the distances cycled - but by signing up for non-sporting utility journeys, cyclists in Glasgow and elsewhere could generate some useful data about cyclists' journeys. And sometimes the most unlikely places have potential to become a properly bike friendly community - including Portland's industrial districts where wide streets and an 'accidental' cycle track give it great potential as a cycling area

Design guidelines

Given that close contact with too much Dutch infrastructure can depress your average UK cyclist, this video (oh, just your average 20km town-centre to town-centre ride without a single foot down) should come with a mental health warning, but it does showcase the variety of approaches the Dutch use. America's new street design guide accommodates bikes, buses and pedestrians first, cars second - although on the ground it seems it's still easier to take space from cars for anti-terrorist measures than for pro-pedestrian ones. And back here in the UK, Belfast's plans for the York Street Interchange are a wasted opportunity to create real space for cycling, a shared use pavement in Colchester doesn't seem to meet the council's own guidelines, while across the Irish Sea, plans for cycling in Dublin's College Green remain desperately vague, even as it goes out to public consultation



As the election campaigns grind on, Christian Wolmar celebrates London's transforming cycling culture and urges London's mayoral candidates to be brave - they've certainly failed to impress Ranty Highwayman so far - while the Guardian gives the candidates marks out of ten and the LCC has a last push for Sign for Cycling. On the national stage, any minister who thinks a strategy is any use without a budget should resign, if only on the grounds of incompetence, while higher spending in London is flattering the overall figures for England where it's just £1.39 per head. Up in Scotland, Spokes has a little reminder about Pedal on Parliament (this Saturday, viewers in Scotland!). In Ireland, has been campaigning to keep cycling high on the agenda in the general election there, and in Pittsburgh the Bike Lane Toolkit allows locals to encourage their councillors to support cycling infrastructure plans - while campaigners in Berlin are cutting out the politicians altogether with a cycling referendum to shake the authorities out of their complacency. And while Australian politicians still don't seem to get it, a century ago Shetland had a cycling, knitting MP after our own heart.

Textalyzers and other legal innovations

With footage showing just how many drivers are distracted at the wheel, New York's plans to treat it a bit more like drink driving might change attitudes - and you have to wonder just how distracted a driver would have to be not to notice three bikes falling off the back (perhaps they really are invisible?). Distracted or not, it helps if the driver can see - raising questions of how we deal with the growing numbers of elderly drivers. Elsewhere, the Isle of Man is to consider presumed liability, Danish cyclists are to be allowed a right turn on red and Canada is urged to consider a vulnerable road users law - while Birmingham is considering bringing in a workplace parking tax. As the plot thickens over whether Irish cyclists can use zebra crossings or not, newspaper evidence reveals that the legal principle that the cyclist's place is in the wrong goes back as far as 1878.

The fact is, the dominance of the car is so all-pervasive that we have stopped even seeing it, making pushing back against marginalisation all the harder (although some mums clearly have no problem seeing it. And it's always worth remembering that some people would just like to be able to ride their bicycle in peace, and not have to take on the world, and that's fine too.

Real safety

This seemed to be a week for bringing in other disciplines to look at how we might achieve road safety - from economics (well, Freakonomics, anyway) to marine and aviation transport to public health. Either way, lessons are not being learned from cyclists' deaths in London - and across the EU cycling road deaths are not falling as fast as other road users'.

Overcoming barriers

Safety (perceived and sustainable) may be the real barrier to cycling (and it can be about more than just traffic for some young people) but there are still plenty of worthy micro initiatives out there to overcome the other ones - from low cost bike share membership to individual efforts to give away bikes from a small handful to hundreds each year - and if we wait long enough, and we'll all be able to just print one out. However while profound deafness needn't be an impediment to cycling, the difficulty of transporting donuts is, and should be tackled immediately.

And finally, we all know that cycling in a city like Washington isn't all rainbows and unicorns - but then you happen upon the mythical pink bike in bloom bike ... and suddenly it is