The Great Big Lifelong Cycling Bike Blog Roundup

The news continues full of doom and gloom so before we plunge into it ourselves, let us start with a reminder that even in the toughest conditions we can still create lifelong cyclists - even if they are becoming vanishingly rare among secondary school-age girls - who will never forget their childhood freedom, even if cycling is not quite as carefree as it used to be, with all the consolations cycling brings if practised regularly, that bikes can transform lives in some cases, and that the kids themselves are keen to spread the love of cycling. So it's good news that America has its first cycle friendly high school and Sustrans' new chief is emphasising the importance of safe routes to school (hint: the M74 does not count) - although a little worrying that the Hong Kong police think Manchester is the place to learn about cycle safety. And it would be great if children's books didn't reinforce gender stereotypes, if policies didn't concentrate so much on the classic male cycle commuter - or if, at the other end of the age spectrum, we could think beyond driving when considering mobility for older people (or possibly think beyond the bike altogether...)

Next level advocacy

Parents anxiously waving off their future lifelong cyclists onto the UK's scary roads might feel we've not made much progress in recent years, but in fact cycle campaigners (in London at least) have a lot to teach those campaigning for change in other fields. Elsewhere Berlin's bicycle referendum has put cycling firmly on the agenda while in Amsterdam, CycleSpace has nominated a bicycle mayor for the city to act. Taking this to its logical conclusion, Orange 20 Bikes urges readers to go further and actually run for office (or at the very least address the politicians who make the decisions over cycling) while in the UK it's the success of companies like Wiggle that is boosting cycling in politicians' minds. In the European Union the Committee of the Regions is backing calls for 10% of transport funds to go on cycling while the ECF puts cycling on the 'smart mobility' agenda - which seems to be something to do with cellphones, not cycle chic. Inspired? If you're in London you could join the LCC board while mountain biking groups and other off-road cyclists are urged to advocate for greater access to the countryside in England and Wales - and Lancaster residents are urged to help Lancaster Dynamo get a mobile 'Smiley Sid'.

Grudging or generous

Whatever the campaigning landscape, too often it feels like what cycling infrastructure there is is granted grudgingly, with knock on effects for its usefulness - exemplified by this bridge in Maryland which cyclists can now use, but first have to press a button to alert car drivers to the fact that they will be crossing on it (you'd have hoped they could just see the bikes but maybe they'll be distracted by the flashing lights). In London, it's the generosity of the new Cycle Superhighways that makes them so relaxing to ride compared with New York's stressful streets - but in the same city the new quietway crosses four London boroughs with different approaches to cycling, hence its mixed results, while the planned Nine Elms crossing is put on hold over fears of loss of green space. London could use roadworks and other road closures to actually measure the impact of removing road capacity instead of relying on flawed models, while as long as the United States continues to use average (car) speeds as its main measure then building decent infrastructure will only get harder. Elsewhere, for all their faults Sky Rides are a great way to experience your city differently which makes it all the more of a shame that overblown fears have downgraded Cardiff's planned car-free day to effectively a car-free street. In Glasgow, the council responds to GoBike at last but are hardly tripping over themselves in their urgency to implement their own plans while in Bath the council has failed to learn the lessons of its first foray into shared space and continues to try and implement it on through roads and Salford's 'flagship' cycle route has been holed and sunk by developers.

However, it's not just about giving enough space; design is the key here. Portland closes a gap in its network by removing passing lanes for cars but without a dedicated signal for bikes (because of congestion fears, naturally), will create conflict with turning traffic - Assen shows how conflict-free junctions can be designed while even Auckland doesn't compromise on its new cycle track with protection at junctions (after a fair bit of lobbying). And in London there simply is no sensible alternative to bus-stop bypasses whatever people's fears about them.

Network effects

As New Zealand releases its national cycle network planning and design guidance, Auckland is already beginning to experience network effects from joining up infrastructure - which doesn't happen so much when you just have an off-road track, however wonderful. Pricetags wonders why Vancouver can't follow Paris's lead and build a proper network while in Southern California, Monrovia adopts a bike plan - but will it actually deliver a decent network? In the UK, there's hope that the Queensbury Tunnel could form a cycle route connecting Bradford and Calderdale - while the saga of Copenhagen's newest harbour bridge shows that the Danes are not immune to over-complicating things when it comes to filling in the gaps in the network.

Building better cities

As plans for Gosforth High Street look as if they will offer improvements for people on foot and on bikes, half an hour in the Netherlands shows what happens when you replace a gyratory with space for people. As yet another business association fears 'cyclegeddon' at plans over cycling infrastructure in Vancouver, Strong Towns points out that there's still no evidence that they are bad for business - indeed, if they want some customers' business in Seattle, retailers should be demanding more not less, while cargo bike delivery makes for eye-catching advertising as well as beating gridlocked traffic (and if the bike is stolen it's distinctive enough that you might get it back). The Better Bike Share conference argue that bike share is about more than just bikes, it's about building great cities - and as LA tentatively joins the bike share ranks, BikinginLA rounds up the complete coverage. Nobody can disagree that New York is a great city and, despite the chaos, the Invisible Visible Man says a fond farewell to it the only way possible, by bike, while Kevin Mayne says a brief hello to Helsinki which offers a little of everything for cycling and plans to go back. Meanwhile, with more evidence that cycling infrastructure is one of the best ways of tackling climate change, it's more localised air pollution that troubles the LCC.

Safety concerns

As the latest safety stats reveal that America is falling behind other nations on road safety, Streetsblog argues that redesigns are needed in Chicago to deliver properly sustainable safety - while in Manchester the hazards are on two legs instead of on four wheels. All too often the response to safety concerns is to concentrate on the behaviour of people on bikes rather than tackle the root causes - we might as well just cross our fingers and hope (which is equally effective for pedestrians) as it's no less effective than all the other safety campaigns. On the more technical side, putting lorries in skirts and anti-skid tram tracks might help some aspects of bike safety - while Google's self driving car will understand what cyclists are doing by taking the lane and not use it as an opportunity to squeeze past while leaning on the horn (that's Version 2.0...). Ireland considers legislating human drivers to behave in similar fashion while Toronto trots out bicycle licencing yet again - but at least the next time someone tries to ban cycling with headphones on there's a safety argument why you should keep them in (gentlemen, you may uncross your legs now).

Going multimodal

As combining bikes and trains grows in London, partly through efforts to make such journeys easier, we're still nowhere near the provision at even minor stations in the Netherlands. A lot of it is as much about mindset as it is about the right provision - outside Amsterdam Centraal, the combination of bikes, rail and ferries is hardly ideal but mostly works.

Independence day ...

We end with a belated 4th July congratulations to our American readers - with the exception of this charming car owner who appears to be treading a fine line between satire and incitement to violence (or was maybe just trying to transport a bike during a ban on carrying them on the Metro during the holiday). And finally, a cutting from the archives that leaves us wondering if in 1879 they talked about 'leathern louts'?