The Great Big Thinking Big Bike Blog Roundup

Perhaps it was the half-term break and the chance to reflect but this week seemed to be one for back from looking at individual schemes and taking in the bigger picture - the way we've allowed our towns to be rearranged for the convenience of the car - in Rhode Island as much as in Norfolk - and let planning decisions override cycle safety gains however limited - and have generally institutionalised the drivers' point of view to the point where 'reducing driver frustration' becomes a safety gain and even the police can't see beyond that (although it's amazing how much more polite they get once they realise they're on camera). Instead we need to see how London's cycle superhighways are as much about mobility as they are about cycling, and reframe road diets as not just taking away a lane but removing dangerous speeding - especially on streets where speeding is so prevalent residents won't even let their kids walk on the pavement, let alone cycle.

Building a (mobility) network

Meanwhile, as the temporary closure of Cardiff's Taff Trail shows up the lack of compelling alternatives other cities are thinking more ambitiously, like Rome which is planning a 44km inner 'ring road' for bikes to encourage tourism and Atlanta's $1 billion dollar plan to put the city into the US cycling top ten, although Melbourne's attempt to think outside (or above) the box rather misses the point. Inner city cycle tracks are all very well but suburban dwellers need cycle routes too. As Portland plans its development around public transport as much as by bike, by contrast Dublin's tram extension does little for cycling - while in the UK, Great Western's new bike booking policy will seriously cut capacity for bikes on trains - and has already attracted a growing petition against.

The upsides

Thinking big might seem expensive and difficult but it reaps great rewards, beyond even the health benefits - such as a nine-fold return on investment in cycling infrastructure to attract tourists (the small town of Whitefish is a case in point) and increasing sales tax receipts from businesses on streets which have been put on a 'road diet' - no wonder Toronto businesses want bike lanes even if the city is dragging its feet - although building your bike lane on the street without all the shops is not going to help anyone. It does help if your cycle parking doesn't double as a recycling bin, Booths take note; Portland shows how cycle parking should be done - forget showers for cyclists, does your parking facility have a shower for your bike? Oh and protected bike lanes make traffic flow more smoothly too - while expanding bike share is bringing manufacturing jobs back to Detroit.

Putting your bike to work

As well as putting cities to work, some cyclists can put their cycling to work - earning a free bike cum mobile billboard if you work in the right part of London, or just earning by the mile if you cycle in Newcastle; it certainly makes a change from the usual half dead advertising bike taking up a much-needed parking spot. For one reporter in Key West her bike is an essential tool for the job as well as a great advert for her staion. And even if Amazon has abandoned bike deliveries in Seattle (perhaps they should have tried hiring the Stig if they wanted speedy deliveries), bikes will at least save you money if they don't earn you money - in fact they've been an economical alternative to the dominant form of transport as far back as 1879.

Let us fix that for you

Portland might be scratching its head when it comes to the nitty gritty of building protected bike lanes - but perhaps they're looking in the wrong place. Instead of waiting until 2021 when the next US street design guidelines are due, they could just ask some bike bloggers, because when they did get down to the detail this week, they had plenty of ideas from improving the treatment of side roads on the Bears Way to filtering Islington's Quietway 10 to make it actually quiet. Zen Biker Maniac wonders if the Highland Council's insistence that cycling isn't allowed on a narrow bridge is even legal on a core path while Cambridge Cycle Campaign points out that some of the designs in the city's new design guide don't even meet the current weak UK design standards. In Dublin, a contraflow cycle lane seems to put cyclists in conflict with everyone including other cyclists - but at least the final stage of Manchester's Oxford Road overhaul will include more floating bus stops.

Encouragement vs investment

With even German cities seeming to prefer encouragement over actually doing the the things that would enable cycling, People for Bikes is looking for cycle encouragement events that work best. For Cycling UK, buddying a colleague to work can help overcome the scariness that is cycling in Guildford - and certainly some bike promotion approaches are cooler than others. On the other side, might a Drivers' Code of Conduct help reduce conflict on the streets of Cambridge?

Safety matters

Sadly, after the euphoria of the new cycle superhighways this was a sobering week with cyclists injured in three separate incidents in London, on the Strand, on the Edgware Road, and on a junction which has already proved deadly in Islington, reviving calls for infrastructure improvements - perhaps ghost bikes should stay in place until measures have been put in to prevent crashes from reoccuring. The death of a ten-year-old girl in Vienna shows just how un-Dutch the city's junctions are - while New York seems to be aiming for vision zero simply by not publishing its collision statistics for months. Meanwhile, yet another graph underlines how it isn't helmets that bring about cycling safety.

Politics as usual

As we await with bated breath the minister's response to our invitation to Cambridge (and you are all coming to our AGM aren't you?), in London the new mayor will be likely getting an awful lot of email if this 'Flic' button works - but he is taking the first step towards direct vision lorries. In his autobiography, Chris Boardman looks back at his first steps in bike campaigning while in Australia the Green's cycle spending pledge is welcomed - and may reflect the influence of the Australian Cyclists' Party. In Canada, parliamentarians dress up for their annual bike ride and barbecue with campaigners - presumably they don't go about calling cyclists the taliban in a spot of Twitter 'banter'. in San Diego Bike SD back the existing mayor to continue his slow progress to transform the city while the LCC looks back at Boris's legacy in London. In California, legislative attempts to clarify the law on riding two abreast hit opposition (even if it's just on cycle paths). And as the European Cyclists Federation calls for a pan-European cycle strategy is this finally going to bring cycling into the Brexit debate?

On tour

You may have noticed a few posts from the Summer by Rail blog as one lucky intern has blagged a summer touring the US by bike and train - and learns to follow the pedi cabs when navigating an unfamiliar and hilly city - or just call a bike Uber, which has been available in Portlnd long before it's due to reach Amsterdam. Elsewhere the Hembrows enjoy a rare bit of recreational cycle touring around Drenthe while Chicago Streetsblog heads to Northern Indiana to discover the Amish don't just get around by horse and buggy but by bike and, er, camel too and Bicycle Dutch is mesmerised by the outside-but-inside cyclists passing through the Rijksmuseum on their hard won cycle path.

The diversity of cycling

As James Avery serves a discrimination notice on Coventry council, Bike Portland asks whether bike share schemes should offer options 'beyond the bike' - in all their adaptive variety. As Glasgow seeks sighted pilots for visually impaired tandem stokers, one such combo were celebrating the return of their tandem after it was stolen. As the Women's Cycle Forum Scotland gets ready to launch the diversity of their two speakers illustrates how different women who cycle can be - from inspirational mountain bikers to those whose superpower is cycling in heels or just loving riding through the city at night in your best party frock. Bicycling considers what factors encourage cycling to school while the US Youth Bike Summit reaches a much more diverse crowd than your average cycling conference. And at the other end of the age spectrum, Cycle Boom considers 'velomobile' methods to capture the actual experience of cycling among their study participants.

Unusual hazards

Some road dangers are common enough the world over - but this week we had Bristol's World Naked Bike Ride diverted to avoid a neo-Nazi march - perhaps even more dangerous than a large male kangaroo. But at least a (sufficiently risk averse) driverless car shouldn't pose an additional hazard in a place like Groningen.

And finally

As the world said goodbye to Muhammad Ali, we learned that boxing's gain was cycling's loss ... how might sport have been different without the intervention of a random bike thief.