The Great Big Horror in Michigan Bike Blog Roundup

While the tone of this roundup is usually fairly light, some might say flippant, there are some stories which cut through every defence, and the news of the pick up truck driver ploughing into a group of cyclists in Michigan is one of them; BikingInLA rounds up the media coverage which for once managed to (mostly) not describe it as an accident or descend into the usual victim blaming (which is equally prevalent when it's pedestrians being killed - and we're no stranger to it in the UK either). Memorial rides have been held (with or without one Texan) but rather than riding in silence, should cyclists be making some noise instead?

Political will

That might build some political will - something our own parliamentarians say (Norman Tebbit excepted) is desperately needed as the All-Party Parliamentary Cycling Group makes some strong recommendations on improving the Westminster government's Cycling and Walking Investment Strategy; some actual investment would be a good start, but so too would disseminating good practice on design be helpful. Perhaps Westminster could start by looking to the devolved nations with both the Welsh and Northern Irish governments putting the right people into the right jobs for once for cycling.

Elsewhere, Croydon cyclists are hopeful that the new London mayor's 'mini holland in every borough' policy could mean a real and lasting legacy for cycling, while the LCC waits to see if Cycle Superhighway 9 will get pushed through Kensington and Chelsea this time, or just stop on the border, while a tour of some of Sutton's 'Space for Cycling' locations show there's still a way to go before they're made properly cycle friendly. Further afield, Berlin's mayor has been dragging his feet so the cyclists are taking matters into their own hands, Melbourne shoudl be giving cycling more funding and New Zealand's coming national review of speed limit guidelines delays bolder action in Christchurch.

Changing places

Bike bloggers do like to travel and share their findings but it seemed particularly prevalent this week with Martin Tweddell from Bristol visiting Assen and Groningen and People for Bikes putting Copenhagen under microscope from its traffic lights to its apartment blocks (with more posts from both scattered through the rest of this roundup). To visitors from elsewhere both New York and Adelaide present a mixed bag of good and bad cycling while even in the Netherlands sometimes trees trump bikes when it comes to laying out infrastructure. A visit to San Francisco shows how important working in partnership can be to create a properly multi-modal transport system (Great Western Railways take note). And it may surprise us, but to visitors from the US our towns and cities can feel very pedestrian friendly, while London's Cycle Superhighways continue to attract admiration. And sometimes, under the right circumstances, you can see your own city with fresh eyes, something Slow Roll has done for Eileen On in Minnesota.

Cycling Cities

So how do cities become the sort of place where visitors flock to enjoy the cycling (apart from continuing investment of course)? A recent book identifies five factors increasing cycling's modal share in cities while Janette Sadik-Khan's Streetfight book has some lessons for US cities. In general you get increases in the form of transport you invest in, which for the UK has been the car - although even in Assen you could argue that the car is still king - although NewCycling call for walking and cycling to be prioritised instead. The European Cycling Challenge ended up with the top three slots all going to Polish cities, which may seem surprising but actually Krakow has been cracking on with its cycling strategy. In Canada, Victoria is taking a similar approach having been content to rest on its laurels for too long. In Denmark, Gladsaxe is the Cycling Municipality of the year, while Oslo is exceeding national Norwegian design standards to build better infrastructure for cyclists.

Network effect

Boiling it down, it's a good direct cycling network that matters - although in Belfast even cycling a fairly fiddly off road route beats driving on the motorway for shorter commutes; instead cities tend to allow the car to dominate even though schemes like Glasgow's urban motorways haven't even delivered the safety benefits that their proponents promised. Exeter proposes a fast and a slow cycle route into the centre while Rachel Aldred would like to map the actual usable bike network for London where even before the new superhighways were opened, the old 'blue paint' versions were showing some increases in cycling. In New York they're trialling closing one gap in the network where cyclists have created their own informal solution, as well as closing up the remaining gaps in another bike route, complete with safer intersections - but back here in the UK no sooner is one gap due to be closed, another one is created by closing a key rail crossing and the routes we do get are then compromised by poor surfaces. In Minneapolis a useful 8-80 bike path is created but then just ends - while a successful street closure on a key route to school is to be partially reopened to cars despite its popularity.

All ears

We're probably all of us guilty at some time of telling people what it is they should want instead of properly listening to their experience - so we can start by talking to a nine-year-old about what would make him more likely to cycle to school (and not recycling dubious statistics about which demographics benefit from cycling investment). In Scotland, women cyclists will get a louder voice with the launch of the Women's Cycle Forum Scotland - which showed just how diverse female cycling experiences can be; now it's time to keep up the momentum generated by the event. Assen shows the diversity of cyclists you get when the infrastructure is right; beyond infrastructure you may also need accessible bikes in your bike share scheme - and even scholarships to broaden the diversity of those working in the industry.

What Would Copenhagen Do?

As protests continue over the Waltham Forest Mini Holland road closures, and similar filtering schemes in Hackney, perhaps more local business should be given shots on cargo bikes or see how Copenhagen's local businesses cope and even thrive in a less car-centric city. Similarly, as a Bath cycle lane is threatened by plans to extend a loading bay, perhaps a Copenhagen compromise approach to loading would help? It's certainly better than Dublin's solution of just suspending its bike tracks to turn them into coach parking when needed. But it's not just Copenhagen that understands that cycling needn't presage economic collapse - in Portland developers are actively requesting traffic-free roads to their schemes while there seems to be no end to the Netherlands' e-bike sales boom.

Expanding the tool kit?

I think most here reading this are agreed that it's not gimmicky ideas or smarter cars that are needed, but decent infrastructure and well designed roads to fix our cities. That said it could be that rural cycling needs different solutions - and sometimes an app can be a good tool for improving the state of our streets. So, with that out of the way, we can now all happily debate whether the AA's cycling highway code is a bit patronising, an effective repackaging or just ten years behind what's actually being taught in Bikeability. A similar debate could generally be had for events like Bike Week - although as ever Bikeyface manages to speak more sense with a couple of cartoons than most people manage in a dozen blog posts. If you're looking for other campaigning resources, Cycling Industry News has put together a guide for advocates, and the European Parliament's report is full of good stuff for quoting in campaigns and communications. The Irish contingent found the Cycle City Leicester conference useful - and even the Dutch need to get together from time to time to share good practice.

And finally

We couldn't end a bike blog roundup without this a reference to this story. Thank you anti-bike-theft cowboy for providing a good news story in an otherwise grim news week...