The Great Big the Policeman and the Cyclist can be Friends Bike Blog Roundup

You know that when a link about cycling starts getting passed to you by your non-cycling friends then it's something special - and this post by the West Midlands Traffic Police was no disappointment, with social media resounding to the sound of jaws dropping at a police blog getting cyclists' safety so right (and perhaps they might have a word with Team Sky's bus driver while they're at it) while in Dublin, the Gardai are taking a break from ticketing cyclists and spending the bus strike ticketing drivers who use the bus lane on the grounds of cycling safety. Sadly, even after dangerous drivers have been caught bang to rights they don't always get taken off the road, with tragic consequences.

From Mini Holland to proper Holland

As the Dutch Cycling Embassy gets itself an excellent ambassador, there has been no shortage of visitors to the cycling motherland this week (although on the whole it's perhaps best not to try and combine it with your honeymoon, his'n'hers Bromptons or no his'n'hers Bromptons). The Urban Fathers Liberation Front have made the pilgrimage and in three parts looks at the lessons for Enfield not just from central Amsterdam but the suburbs and smaller towns like Haarlem (also featuring in Back on My Bike's trip to Amsterdam where the Dutch roll out the red (tarmac) carpet for cyclists, if I may be permitted to plug my own blog). Three cycling summer school participants had a more thorough look at what makes cycling work in the Netherlands, concluding that a lot of it was about simply normalising cycling and enabling people to ride slowly, and working out how to apply those lessons at home.

When life hands you fudge ...

As the smoke clears on Edinburgh's Roseburn cycle path non-decision, some see much to celebrate despite the knockback, while others consider what's the best way forward. On the other side of Scotland, a Facebook memory reminds Magnatom that we've still come a long way and Ayr seems to have just quietly got on with building a bright new cycle track. In London, Hackney's implementation of the CS1 leaves a lot to be wished for, even in comparison to the compromised version that was consulted on. Not that this is a problem confined to the UK: Christchurch has seen its bold vision of a reborn city diluted by NIMBY opposition, Dublin is struggling with continuing to mix cyclists and pedestrians even where the ECF has argued a separate cycle path is needed, while Seattle gets ready to open its latest bikeway after being delayed by legal action - and a painstaking process to try and satisfy the needs of all concerned - just don't expect the spurious objections to stop even after the bike lane has been built, though. On the other hand, responses to proposed changes at Kings Cross have been broadly positive (and Transport for London have removed a notoriously cycle-baiting troll from their board and replaced them with someone sensible), while in Ireland Cork is consulting on its planned 'comprehensive, high quality and consistent' cycle network.

Filling in the gaps

The Welsh have taken a big step towards creating more comprehensive networks with the Active Travel Act giving people the right to propose safe walking and cycling routes - and maybe maps like this one for Bath would help to clarify where those gaps are - while England could look to Scotland's example and allow responsible countryside access, helping to at least build the leisure cycling (and walking and horse riding) network. Elsewhere, progress is a little more incremental - with Leicester's new cycle lane proving a bit of a mixed bag, while Cambridge's latest plans failing to reach the most dangerous part of the road in question. Paris, on the other hand, is planning an almighty gap in its motorised traffic network, albeit only for a trial period.

Not that all progress has been in the forward direction: as Toronto opens access to one rail trail, residents in Tuscon are planning to close one while Cleveland's only downtown bike lane disappears weeks after it was repainted. Bremen sneaks the removal of a cycle path into plans to improve a roundabout as it continues to try and move bikes back onto the road - while LA traffic planners have comprehensively eliminated almost every option but the private car for some cross-town routes, ironically because of heavy traffic.

Plan to fail

In general, indeed, we are planning to fail - with poorly throught through housing developments that will only generate more traffic, or taking a very piecemeal approach to cycling even when considering plans for student accommodation. In Bath, a temporary route to replace a temporary route out of Radstock confidently directs cyclists onto the old nonexistent route - but perhaps that's better than bike lanes that leave cyclists trapped at the lights until the weekend - just don't run the red light or you'll feel the wrath of the anti-cycling columnist (just hope they don't ever find out that riding a Brompton is illegal, at least in Washington DC) although it's okay to block the pavement AND the cycle lane with your car though if your driveway is too short and you refuse to use the garage provided

A numbers' game

The antis don't generally let facts get in the way of their opposition, but if you do need some evidence, Ranty Highwayman has been doing the sums on how much space various modes of transport need to move people around - while researchers have been working on mapping risk patterns on a more local scale. Meanwhile, the cycling revolution is still failing to make headway if the latest figures for England are anything to go by - with the more detailed figures suggesting there's much unmet need for cycling among most demographic groups - and showing that we need to move beyond focusing on commuting if we're to make cycling more widely embraced. While the Northern Territories do seem to have acheived gender parity in cycling, Australia's cycle strategy generally is also going nowhere, raising the question of whether it's time to get rid of Australia's bike lanes (for something better) while declining cycling levels in Philadelphia also suggest more protect bike lanes are needed.

Budget matters

Sometimes, the only numbers that really matter are the ones that come with a pound (or dollar or euro) sign in front of it - and as Glasgow consults on its budget it's time to tell the city that walking and cycling should be among the priorities - while the state of the Taff Trail bodes ill for any more extensive segregated network in Cardiff. In straitened times, it's easy to say that we can't afford cycling infrastructure, but in fact when it replaces road space it actually saves money, in construction and maintenance - as well as helping to boost the rural economy. In Dublin, work on cycleways stops as fundign is pulled by the National Transport Authority with the council blaming central government. While bikeshare schemes can be expensive to run (although Portland is taking some innovative measures to tackle the issue of rebalancing bikeshare stations), is it really wise to get them sponsored by a car company? And while bike theft can be annoying and distressing for some, for those on lower incomes it's one of the bigger barriers to cycling despte the long term savings cycling brings.

Getting safety wrong

I think most cyclists have found themselves having this conversation or something like it as a concerned passer by wants to see you safe, but doesn't quite know how to acheive it - while Lincolnshire seems to have a similarly confused approach to road safety. Hackney may have failed to build a properly safe CS1 route - but it's got cyclist-detecting tech on its buses and bin lorries, so that's all right then, while Sheffield has a plan to improve safety around its trams which doesn't seem to include cyclists at all - and it seems even removing disused tram tracks takes decades to acheive. In New York, it seems that people on bikes and on foot are a security risk for presidential candidates (people in cars can just carry on as normal, obviously). And while New York seems to be struggling with its vision zero plans, Chicago is just starting the process, which has to be an improvement over pedestrian safety flags ...

Campaigning matters

Reports of recent public meetings in Ediburgh and East Dunbartonshire may have been offputting - but if you want your streets redesigned then showing up and showing support is vital - and if it takes 110 years then so be it; cyclists do live forever after all. If you want to get involved with Space for Cycling over the local elections then the roadshow kicks off in Cambridge this October - and you may discover you have become an advocate or even are one already. In America, one politician sets out on foot to engage with the electorate and discovers the issue of pedestrian safety - while another governor is putting the brakes on growing public support for the removal of an urban freeway. Streetfilms have probably been one of the most effective campaigning forces in the US in recent years and they're looking back at their most influential films including this look at the combination of policies that have made Zurich a more people-friendly city - while any LA campaigners who want to try a similar approach have an excellent opportunity to be matched with a film maker in a one week urbanism film-making challenge. And if LA seems like an uphill struggle for cycle campaigning - try Ukraine - or just cycling at all in Aleppo.

It comes to this

While cycling in the right conditions has so many upsides, when you're battling poorly designed infrastructure sometimes even the most determined cycle commuter finds themselves considering the car instead or just staying off road altogether

But we can't end the blog roundup on such a negative note, so let's celebrate some of the upsides as well: like using bikes to support asylum seekers and get others cycling, getting the school year off to a flying start with a little closed-road hill climbing, or breaking off the commute to glimpse an elusive otter. In most cities even the pollution doesn't outweigh the benefits cycling brings (including offsetting too much booze) and it can make even going to radiotherapy a bit more positive. It may be no coincidence that one of only four states in the US where obesity is falling sees bikes as part of the solution - so maybe make it a skinny latte if you're taking up coffeenuering this year.

And finally

We had to end with two very different, very ballsy cyclists: Mark Cavendish who stopped mid-race to do in real life what most of us confine to twitter and take on a troll - and one woman who is planning to become the fastest cyclist of any gender, even if it means being dropped out of the back of a truck at 90mph ... Ah yes, women, the timid, slower, cycling sex ...