The Great Big Keep on Keeping On Bike Blog Roundup

With the UK (and beyond) cycling world still digesting the implications of Brexit - whether it's higher prices, more air pollution - or possibly even increased cycling levels - while David Hembrow is sending food parcels (well, bicycle-shaped pasta). Back in the UK, the reaction among most cyclists was to seek distraction elsewhere, whether on the quiet rural roads of Dumfries and Galloway, mastering the technology for an interactive poster on cycling ecology (talkig of which, how about restoring 'wolves' to the transport ecology?) or redoubling their efforts to get more people on bikes. London's latest Kidical Mass celebrated the new Superhighways - and incidentally London's diverse families too.

Bike make it better

Indeed, the response of simply going for a bike ride is a sound one in times of trouble - long bike ride can help to clear the mind (although beware, cycling through the Netherlands can be just too easy to properly take your mind off your troubles) - and generous LA-based cyclists can now spread the love to the city's large homeless population. It's not just helpful for adults either - active children do better at school although the conditions in the UK being what they are you might need to squeeze three on a bike built for two. Magically, owning a bike and not a car is enough to make you active - you don't apparently even need to ride it (although we recommend you do) - or maybe just scroll through the pictures of everyday cyclists in Amsterdam and Utrecht for a cheering boost/depressing reminder of what we're about to cut ourselves off from ... delete as applicable

Cycle highways

Whatever you call them, longer high quality cycle routes combined with electric bikes are starting to open up longer-distance cycle commutes - with plans for longer distance routes not just in Germany and the Netherlands but in Paris, Ireland and the whole of the US east coast. Quality is the key though - while Bicycle Dutch's market to market rides have shown that are already all but seamless connections between towns in the Netherlands, the Leeds Bradford 'superhighway' doesn't look like somewhere you would sustain a 20kmh average on with any real comfort, while in Ireland walking and cycling should be kept separate on the River Dodder greenway

Cycle noways

Meanwhile, backlash and fears continue to compromise plans in the UK even if they were initially promising with Manchester planning to seriously water down its plans for the Oxford Road Cycleway - here's how you can respond, but perhaps what Manchester really needs is an elected mayor who can drive changes through (just don't mention B****). Back in London, the Kingston Mini Holland plans are being rebranded as Go Cycle - described here in two parts - possibly because in their current form the Dutch wouldn't contemplate them - Richard Warner has responded (see part one and part two of his responses). Meanwhile, Guys and Thomas's Hospital trusts are opposing bus stop bypasses based on no evidence at all; much as it pains him to enter a petition tit for tat, Joe Dunckley feels he has been left with no option. Unusually, Edinburgh city council has responded to a largely favourable consultation exercise (and a noisy minority backlash) over the Roseburn route by offering an improved option addressing all concerns, albeit also with a much worse alternative proposal.

Getting the standards right

As plans for the Silverlink junction in North Tyneside, which appear to have been watered down from the original proposals show, the UK needs robust national standards for cycling infrastructure. Similarly, Sheffield's long-awaited tram safety report relies on out of date designs like shared use paths and misunderstands Dutch approaches, while London's first quietway is more inclusive than most but still uses design features like cobbled raised tables which don't work well if you can't stand up in the saddle to cushion the bumps. Schemes can also be designed without thinking how to improve things for cycling at the same time. Looking further afield, as People for Bikes plans to raise cities' game further from protected bike lanes to the whole network, Streets MN considers where the potential 'complete streets' could go in St. Paul - but the main test of infrastructure remains whether you'd be happy cycling on it with your mum (insert other less capable relative if your mum is happy taking the lane along the A6 ...). In Portland, it's nice to see a repaving project used as an opportunity to widen bike lanes - but why not go a step further and just create a fully protected lane although even they aren't much good if they give out at every junction - or corners allow for sweeping turns at speed. Sharrows, on the other hand, just aren't any good full stop except as pretty pictures on the road. And while Portland mandates safe detours for pedestrians and cyclists during construction work, in New York the fear is that a detour plan for a busy greenway will end up forcing cyclists permanently onto an inferior alternative.

Build bridges (or cut throughs) not walls

Sometimes, we have to celebrate the small wins - like London's handy cut throughs or some 'except cycles' signs in Cambridgeshire. After many years of campaigning, Colchester might finally get a bridge wide enough for bikes as well as pedestrians while Suffolk is consulting on new river crossings in Ipswich. In Haringey, a road closure due to bridge works has left residents wondering why it needs to be reopened as they have learned to enjoy the quiet life

Political engagement

Political (and cultural) battles over the use of roads are nothing new - but more constructive political engagement continues. In London, Caroline Russell has some advice on drafting effective questions to hold the mayor to account, while you can now find all the cycling questions raised in the Northern Ireland assembly in one place. The New Cycling AGM brought together campaigners, a local politician and others and considered bikelash, while the minister for Transport visits Cambridge after all (but has timed it poorly for the Cycling Embassy AGM). In Philadelphia, constituents and councillors are working together to develop bike lanes while cycle-friendly European mayors call on the EU not to water down air quality directives. In contrast in Dublin, despite a petition on the Liffey cycle route, councillors aren't exactly falling over themselves to respond and in Washington the history of one rail trail shows how obstructive an unhelpful politician can be. All stuff, perhaps, for Australians to bear in mind as they ride to the polls for their elections.

Better cities ...

Being bike friendly should all be to local politicians' benefit of course - and finally some businesses are coming round to the idea of cycling - with bike lanes not causing bankruptcy in Calgary after all, and one businessman in Pittsburgh positively welcoming having a 'parking problem'. Far from being a nuisance, Detroit's Slow Roll is rebranding Motown and a bike town - while New Orleans is using green corridors (and streetcars of course) to rebuild after Hurricaine Katrina and Christchurch's post earthquake bike plans are improving perceptions of cycling, even if they're not quite getting people onto bikes yet. Sometimes the lesons are in the most unlikely places - Amsterdam could learn from Oslo and consider a car-free centre (after Oslo took lessons home from Amsterdam) while Italy wants to rethink its cities around children (perhaps a bit of playful cycle parking might help there) and developers are designing around cycling not just in places like Seattle but Des Moines too. And in Texas, Dallas and Fort Worth are trying to restore human-scale transport to their car-centric cities while Houston's plans for its urban motorways could make the city more livable ... or could just end up pumping more traffic into the centre.

... and beyond

But it doesn't stop at cities - there's a need to support active travel to school in rural America too and Copenhagen proves surprisingly relevant to small-town Arkansas. Nor is it just about Europe and North America - cycling programmes need to be adapted to suit Central and South America too, while some are working to integrate cycling into Uganda's transport planning policies. Let's not get too carried away though - for as every NIMBY knows, bike share doesn't just create traffic, it's the root of apparently everything that's wrong with your neighbourhood.

Bikes for all

Crackpots aside, bikeshare can be a great way to increase cycling but we have to be clear about what is meant by 'equity' if we're going to acheive it - Portland's six adaptive cycles might be a good start - and so too can the various e-bike schemes appearing soon across England. There are other barriers too - Spokesmama identified the hurdles family cyclists have to overcome to Cyclehack while Safe Routes to School provides a state by state guide for campaigners to identify if their local officials are doing enough to maximise funding. In Auckland, a petition is started to just allow kids to cycle on the pavement, while in Copenhagen the lycra crowd aren't significantly hampered by all those pesky cycle tracks.

Safety first

Starting with the good news - serious cycle injuries fell in London last year and hopefully will fall further as London's direct vision standard for lorries is due to be published in autumn although perhaps a little divine intervention still might not go amiss. In the US, though, American bike share passed a tragic milestone, recording its first fatlity, while pedestrian and cyclist deaths rose sharply. In Canada, where four years on little has been done to implement the Chief Coroner's report on cycle safety, a British ex-Olympian is remembered where he fell. Closer to home Save our Cyclists considers the options for mapping collisions and fatalities (always bearing in mind that wherever you ride the benefits still outweigh the risks, the most polluted roads excepted). In California, a court has ruled that roads must be made safe for bicycles; whether that involves taking this character off it is not reported. Novak Djokovic has been banned from cycling round the grounds of Wimbledon for his own safety; presumably he's allowed to go out and joust with traffic in the rest of South West London if he likes) - but at least he doesn't have to worry about grizzly bears or even five-foot escaped chickens ...

And finally

Long before anyone heard the words 'cycle chic' Bill Cunningham was roaming the streets of New York on his upright bicycle capturing street style - Velo Joy remembers him with fondness even though she never did make the cut herself.