The Great Big When the Rowing Gets Tough Bike Blog Roundup

Backlash got weird this week when a man took to a rowing machine to protest a bike lane in Ayr (no, we don't understand why either) which is now to be ripped out. This adds to the setback for Bears Way (where there is now a petition to sign in favour of extending the scheme) - Magnatom reports from the council meeting that rejected the scheme in all its gory detail - undermining their own parties' national policies - perhaps they should be mindful that they'll be held to account in May. Elsewhere there was even protests against road closures in Cambridge, while Glasgow opened and then closed a shared path that was too steep for safe use.

the Daily Wail

With the Daily Mail coming out against bike lanes, Pedal on Parliament is confused at supposedly progressive politicians in Scotland getting into bed with the voice of Little England (for surely the Daily Mail can't be battling bike lanes because of fears of gentrification), while Peter Walker wearily takes up the gauntlet and tackles the myth that bike lanes cause traffic jams; Cycling UK points out that if empty bike lanes are the problem then we need more of them, not fewer - but in fact it's the inherent efficiency of bike lanes that makes them appear empty.

The fact is, there has always been change and there will always be opposition to change - although that doesn't explain why the LTDA manage to simultaneously oppose and support safer cycling infrastructure - but whether it's bike lanes or brexit, what's the best way of tackling opposition? NICycles has three simple ideas to build support for the benefits of cycling

Change is gonna come

... indeed it's already coming in many places: Streetfilms looks back at the transformation of New York while Vancouver has undergone not just a cycle revolution but cargo bike one (how many biking baristas do they have though?). With Camden's bike counts now open data, it's possible to see growing cycline levels on Royal College Street while wide bike lanes and light segregation have seen increasing cycling on a Dublin route. Even in Glasgow, growing numbers are using its hire bikes - and particularly among commuters. Of course, with better infrastructure it could be even more - campaigners map Philadelphia's bike lane deserts - while Rachel Aldred considers what difference e-Bikes might make on the potential for cycling in the UK

Building bridges not walls

With Tower bridge closed to all traffic, the lack of an alternative cycling route is causing tempers to flare - even as heavy traffic on Southwark Bridge is causing problems for users of the cycle lane there. So it's good news that London's mayor has announced an accelerated schedule for walking and cycling crossings which was welcomed by the LCC - while Streets MN looks into the complexities involved in crossing the Mississippi even if there's already a bridge in place.

Protected by design

Despite a successful cycle summit, West Sussex continues to design poorly for bikes, even in places where it should be simple - perhaps they need to view a few of Streetfilms' collection of protected bike lane videos for inspiration. Leicester's mayor certainly seems to have been inspired by his trip to the NACTO conference - and hopes to follow Washington's example and put in parking-protected bike lanes - while Portland discovers it can magically find space for cycling AND parking without sending cyclists off on a mad zig-zag detour. Auckland's design guide for its greenways (quiet routes in London) seem to tick a lot of boxes - unlike LA's Expo Line bike path which is great until you have to cross the road and then it's just horrible. Meanwhile Texas raises the bar with a protected intersection that also glows in the dark which actually sounds quite cool.

Better streets for everyone

One way of tackling backlash is to remind people that better streets don't just benefit cyclists - LA campaigner Tamika Butler is using her civil rights background and focus to do just that. In Dublin, there's widespread public support for removing cars from the Liffey quays but in Lancaster it seems provision for pedestrians and cyclists are put in opposition to each other, with the addition of a zebra crossing meaning the removal of a bike lane. As kids in Seattle get a chance to learn the rules of the road in a "traffic garden", Streetsblog points out that there are risks in not letting kids walk to school as well as risks in letting them.

Devolution and leadership

As Kats Dekker realises she can't leave her activism at the door when thinking about local democracy and cycling infrastructure; strong local leadership should make a difference, so should Newcastle and North Tyneside's devolution deal include strong support for walking and cycling - and will Manchester's new mayor promote cycling or just continue business as usual? In London, the deputy mayor for transport says London's next generation of superhighways will be aimed beyond just those commuting - and even in Scotland there are politicians who get it, while the Irish transport minister comes out firmly against compulsory hi vis for cyclists - and pedestrians. Stuff meets the man charged with making New Zealand a cycle friendly country - while the US has just set ambitious targets for cycling and walking. In Europe, the bike industry is starting to take a leadership role within the European cycling strategy. Sometimes, however, even cities which are generally cycle friendly (at least in US terms) get it badly wrong - while Brooklyn Spoke thinks it's time for New York's mayor to get out of his car.

Getting people cycling

As Irish cyclists take to the streets to call for proper investment in cycling, the Urbanist wonders if helmet laws have become a discraction in Australia and it's infrastructure that is the real issue. The Iranian mullahs seem to have hit on one surefire way to get more women cycling by trying to ban them - whereas in the west it's dinosaur bikeshop staff - and possible sexist roads rather than clerics that seem to be the barrier - which is a shame because having more women cycling might do something to defuse the 'war on the roads' atmosphere that has built up in their absence.

THINK! again

Last week was all about the hang back campaign - with the DfT refusing to scrap it even though there seem to be no plans to run a similar campaign telling bus drivers not to force cyclists onto the pavement. In Chicago, a spate of deaths rekindles calls for side guards on trucks in the city while Philadelphia bans duck buses as being fundamentally incompatible with bike and pedestrian safety. Meanwhile, after a young woman cyclist suffers life changing injuries from a turning lorry, another amputee offers her hope that this needn't end her active life.

Policing matters

With West Midlands and Camden police looking to roll out their close pass cycle safety initiatives to other forces (and if they want any help interpreting video footage here's a handy guide), Cambridge Cyclist reckons that if nothing else it would do wonders for the local force's statistics; certainly the first day of Camden's operation netted a rich haul of scofflaw motorists (and a fair few cyclists). They might want to start with the Thames Valley police who seem to be enforcing not cycling on a shared use pavement - of course the real issue here is that there would be loads of room for a parking protected bike lane which would save everyone a lot of grief. As the government consults on driving offences it's missing a key element by not including driving bans. And anyway, it turns out that if we really want no traffic deaths we just have to ask drivers nicely to pledge to not commit offences .

Unexpected benefits

If all that seems a bit dry and/or grim there was plenty on the lighter side of cycling - from the way cyclists in Verona never have to interrupt that vital call - while jewel thieves in Paris understand the importance of bikes if they're to make a quick getaway after a major heist. We're told that the Dutch and the Danes cycle because it's convenient and quick but when it comes to soaking up the last of an indian summer's sunshine it's a recreational activity too - and while Danish commuters might start cycling to avoid traffic jams it's the social side and the enjoyment that keeps them going. For those of us contemplating the start of a northern winter Jackson Hole looks pretty good for cycling (never mind the bike lanes, check out those deep blue skies ...). Even an oblivious driver can repair the moment bymaking a heartfelt apology - and an injured cyclist is delighted to be reunited with his bike thanks to the kindness of strangers. And a man born blind gets his lifelong wish after his brother takes him on a cycle ride. If you have cockles in your heart, prepare to have them warmed.