The Great Big Side-By-Side by Cycle Bike Blog Roundup

Perhaps it's the summer weather, but it seems that sociable cycling was in the air - although this excellent suggestion of the chatting index as the measure of decent infrastructure actually dates from June. For those of a more technicl bent David Hembrow looks into what makes sociable cycling possible, while in Portland, congestion among all modes makes riding side by side an antisocial act, apparently.

Riding for change

Cycling doesn't get much more sociable than mass rides, and even as this roundup is being compiled, Edinburgh cyclists will have turned out in numbers in support of the Roseburn route in a final call for support for the option which gives safer routes to the local primary school, among other things, and will be pivotal not just for Edinburgh but the whole of Scotland, as the decision goes to the relevant council committee. As cyclists turn out in Leicester in memory of teacher Sam Boulton, the story of Bells on Bloor in Toronto shows how such rides can bring about real change over time. Meanwhile in Glasgow, as the consultation process starts on the phase 2 of the Bears Way route, supporters need to turn out to the consultation evenings in force (whether by bike or not) as you can be sure the opponents will be there in numbers

People power

As the Space for Cycling roadshow plans to make its way across the country, there are signs that people power is working. In Newcastle, there are signs of movement as the council scraps its plans for the Blue House junction, although the whole Northern Access Corridor concept remains and its FAQ still seems to assume that people need to drive to get about - nor has its language throughout done much to encourage debate or consider alternatives. However, it has at least galvanised the local community into thinking what it does want for the neighbourhood. Nor was Newcastle the only authority backing down in Newport, they've had to modify their plans for banning city centre cycling, although largely because they don't have the powers to do so. In Chicago, a small twitterstorm quickly clears a bike lane after a construction firm had illegally blocked it, while in Seattle the traffic cones and a few signs are there to trial a safer street. In Canada, a little DIY path paving helps garner support for a more permanent solution (except for the politician who could actually make it happen), while it's taken 20 years, but Philadelphans finally have their bridge back. And if all this campaigning seems a bit slow, why not apply for a post which could hreally help get people moving in London?

Cars are not the only fruit

As the London Assembly consults on easing congestion (we wonder if they've seen this TED talk - or this animation which shows just how inefficient cars are at moving people), we hope they don't try and (road)build their way out trouble, unlike Leeds, which continues to plan as if cars were the only mode of transport, or Sheffield which is spending £450k of Sustainable Transport Money on a road widening scheme, without even including the token shared-use pavement that was on the original plans, or Seattle which is not content with building a huge underground highway but now wants to put another highway on top of it instead of creating a waterfront destination everyone can enjoy. At least when the Dutch did 60s-style road building they accommodated cyclists too, albeit not perfectly.

However there is hope, with even the US transport engineers reminding the Department of Transport that transport is not just about cars (and nor are great streets) although sadly some 'think tanks' are yet to catch up with reality. Portland is taking on the absurd rule that keeps speed limits high on city streets if cars speed on them while Streetsblog looks at the problems arising when developers are forced to widen streets based on poor models of how much traffic will be generated. Still, a news story from 1879 suggests that there's always been one form of transport which dominates cities and prevents progress; it's just that it's no longer the horse any more.

Closed roads and open streets

More 'closed' roads for events get Ranty Highwayman thinking if we could do more to get evidence of the impact of these events rather than arguing about modelling, while a holiday stay in Cornwall shows that housing and cars needn't be always entwined (no such experience at Disney World unfortunately). Meanwhile Minneapolis is doing a good job of making sure its open streets events work for everyone the communities they affect - exactly the sort of riff raff that we imagine the residents of Kensington Palace Gardens would rather not see on their street.

Bike share for everyone

Anyone wondering why their bike share organisation (or, indeed, any cycling organisation) isn't more diverse should start by reading this interview and taking its lessons to heart. Meanwhile, as Portland's scheme gets off to a flying start, Bike Portland looks at why such schemes can have a disproportionate impact given the small number of bikes and Strong Towns looks at how such schemes can fill the gap for visitors coming by train or bus. In Philadelphia they're looking back at how a trip to France brought bike share to the city, while Glasgow is planning to more than double its number of bike hire stations as the scheme seems to be successful.

Cities for everyone

With active travel campaigning often seen as white middle class preoccupation, one community organiser in Chicago breaks the mould while a masters student brings proper bottom-up consultation to Toronto's inner suburbs. Walkable cities should benefit everyone but nobody wins if homeless encampments are forced onto bike paths. As over 90 cities in the US look set to apply for funding to more than double cycling, cities like Oslo are leading the way with plans to make the city centre traffic free by 2019 and Belfast is celebrating its burgeoning cycling culture. Nor is it just about cycling in cities - forty years ago, the Sierra Club recognised in the US that building bike trails would bring people to their reserves, and help preserve them - and cyclists now have an 18-mile cycling highway that runs from Boulder to Denver and looks pretty good.

Cycling by design, or in the margins

Here in the UK, Cycle Bath considers what's the best way to rapidly move on from our current disastrous situation of sharing the road - while Cardiff by Bike asks if bus lanes are better than nothing and the Australian Bicycle Network considers whether bike lanes are dangerous. Restricting HGVs in Lancaster is a good idea but that doesn't mean there doesn't need to be protected space for cyclists and pedestrians along principal routes while in Cambridge conditions around the station have improved but still could have been better. And nor is it just a UK problem - a new cycle route in LA sounds straight out of the UK cycle design playbook although probably with better weather. In Ireland, cyclists complaining about convoluted detours get told to walk instead while in Christchurch there's an outbreak of sign make it better to explain how the new right turn pockets work. Chicago the need for parking trumps any plans for decent cycling infrastructure (although at least bikes get a curb protected lane on a new five-lane highway past big-box retail stores) while in New York the removal of a parking protected lane quickly ends up as a parking free for all, leading to the sort of streets where cycling is like having someone pointing a loaded gun to your head.

Getting to zero

As Bike Auckland decides it's time for Vision Zero to come to New Zealand, the experience so far in America is that setting the goal is sometimes the easy part - getting the political will (and crucially the cash) is harder. In New York, one street redesign coming out of the city's vision zero plan could actually make it harder to put in a bike lane - while another needs political support to complete changes to one of the city's most dangerous streets. Meanwhile Bike Portland will be raising awareness of all those 'minor' collisions which don't make the headlines, but can still change people's lives.


While local businesses often lead the charge against proposed cycling infrastructure, some business owners are actively looking forward to Manchester's new cycle track (it does help if you're a bike shop, or a bike company executive although you'd think businesses in Cambridge would have got it by now). As Romania grasps that investing in cycling for tourism doesn't just pay back it pays back quickly, Spokes will be discussing how businesses can benefit more generally. E-Bikes have the potential to be game changers and not just for the industry - but bike manufacturers shouldn't ignore the needs of those who don't fit the 'size medium' norm either. And as coffeeneuring cranks up for another autumn season of boosting coffee and cake sales around the world, here's one business custom made for a coffee-loving cyclist.

The cyclist's place is in the wrong

With the Olympics fading into a fond memory, the perennial sport of blaming the cyclist rears its ugly head once more - whether they're kids forcing buses off the road, or scantily clad females causing drivers to clip postboxes - or even undercover (or perhaps just off duty) cops preventing blameless drivers from being able to exercise their right to go full road rage without attracting public opprobium (that is in the US constitutuion, right?) - and soon even driverless cars will be at it. Sydney is already cracking down hard on cyclists for being incorrectly dressed (and even for cyclists with a relevant disability the laws make it almost impossible to get an exemption) and things will only get worse, while Ireland is getting in on the on-the-spot fine act too. Perhaps adding 'not hitting a cyclist' to the driving test will help (one wonders about the logistics of finding a cyclist to overtake in some places in the UK) - or just a bit of empathy would help, but cyclists too need to not bring an embattled road mentality to interactions with other people.

Not all bad

Sometimes it can be hard to shake the embattled feeling off - but the news has not been all bad this week. Even with a lack of changing facilities there's nothing like commuting under your own steam to start the day off well and the joy of cycling with kids means you can embrace serendipity without getting stuck in traffic. There's now a 'Boris bike' hour record that's raising money for charity - or you can just cycle round the world without leaving Baltimore (other cities with grid street layouts are available).

And finally

If climbs are your thing, there's a chance to buy a real climber's bike ... just the thing for a spot of Everesting, perhaps?