The Great Big 'Hearts and Minds' Bike Blog Roundup

As the backlash rumbles on, some bloggers were taking a step back and considering what underlies it - and what it will take to bridge the divide. For The Invisible Visible Man, 'gotcha' arguments and paranoia about media conspiracies do nothing to make our case - while for Kats Dekker there are lessons to be learned from feminism and Bicycling Magaizine has a heartwarming story of a campaigner and an opponent brought together by the pope in Philadelphia - perhaps Pope Francis could consider visiting Dublin next. Ranty Highwayman considers what distinguishes genuine concern for the community from individual objections - such as dramatically dubbing an intersection the 'left turn of death' in order to stall a bike lane plan. As Magnatom discovers he was more prescient than he knew, it's worth remembering that a few years ago Toronto was ripping out bike lanes and now it's transforming itself. Even in the Netherland, the lessons from Amsterdam's past show that citizens have to fight when planners fail - but now, schemes to reclaim streets for people are celebrated with champagne and choirs instead of anti demonstrations. For those doing battle everywhere Sticky Bidon has some sound advice on how to keep your sanity, while there's always the DIY approach for those who cannot wait.

Tackling congestion

This week's pushback came courtesy of the Guardian and the London Chambers of Commerce who claim that cycle tracks are causing congestion - never mind the fact that the Embankment is moving 5% more people than before the superhighway and it's construction, Uber and deliveries that are causing congestion in the City, not cycle tracks that are mainly empty because they're blocked off at one end; at peak times the congestion on the cycle superhighways that are open means we Brits are going to have to learn new queuing habits.

The fact is, whether you rip out cycle lanes or not, there never will be enough space for everyone to park their car if everybody drives - that's why Cambridge's congestion plans should include parking restrictions and peaktime traffic controls - while a 'site wide test bed for exemplary sustainable urban development ' in Newcastle probably doesn't need 1000 car parking spaces. At least Bath's MP understands that cycling and walking are key to sorting out the city's traffic, while the Blue House Roundabout working group meeting raises issues of space and conflict.

Change is still coming

Meanwhile the revolution inches forward, with new routes planned for Sheffield and consultations in Liverpool while there are reasons to be cheerful in Birmingham. Waltham Forest Mini Holland is only 20% complete and already transforming the borough - while there's a faint hope that West Yorkshire's Queensbury cycle tunnel plan can be saved. Further afield, Christchurch's major cycleway plans are stepping up a gear while Edmonton is following Calgary's lead and opting to build a quick and dirty downtown grid, trialling as it goes - but you don't always need big expensive plans, just a routine roll out of protected bike lanes whenever a street is resurfaced - or using planning decisions to improve a terrifying junction in LA. One Canadian mayor is showing leadership in getting his city moving while another local politician in New York recongises that he represents all his constituents, not just those with cars, and the US federal govenment sets the country on the road to zero with ambitious new safety goals.

...Or not ...

Or then again, it looks as if Hackney's plans for Whitson Roadoffer very little improvement to cyclists - while lack of maintenance in Suffolk leaves cyclists no option but to cycle on the A12 or wheel their bike over brambles on the path. In Ireland, councillors vote down plans to make safe routes to school a routine part of new school planning decisions. Even in Portland cycling plans are being scuppered by lack of funding while one of Chicago's first protected bike lanes is beginning to look its age but won't be getting an upgrade.

... or going into reverse

Meanwhile, Richmond's quietway plans look as if they may end up making things worse for cycling not better - while Dublin's tram extension plans will see cycle lanes removed on a cycle route to make way for tram track.

Cycling by design?

It may be good for small children to learn to share, but for bikes and pedestrians (especially when one of them is a heavily laden cargo bike) it doesn't always work - something that at least some design strategies are starting to recognise. When it comes to shared space, it would help if we at least had a common understanding of what it actually meant, although nor does it help treating bikes as if they were like cars - but we can at least agree that 'razor sharp' bridges and soft squidgy cyclists don't mix. Cycling UK will be hoping to raise local authorities' design ambitions with the launch of their Space for Cycling Decision Makers' Guide while in the US, People for Bikes will be part of the team creating the official federal guide to bike networks. This might help Portland, whose streets currently work brilliantly for the 8% but will have to raise its game to start attracting the rest of the population; meanwhile it's new 'cross bike' crossings are proving to be a bit of a legal grey area (as is Peterborough's ban on cycling in the city centre). Some cycling design issues can be complex matters of geometry and kerb angles - but others are pretty simple: like don't plant vegetation right where it's going to inevitably obscure sight lines.

Beyond the fit white male ...

Part of the whole 'hearts and minds' agenda has to be ensuring that cycling isn't only for a tiny demographic, but caring for a new baby doesn't leave much scope for cycling in a car-dependent - and suddenly really scary - world, while you don't have to be a new mother to tire of riding in high alert mode all the time. We may particularly overestimate the risks of kids cycling but it diesn't help when delivery drivers cut your child off in the bike lane and that's apparently okay. Cargo bikes may save us all but patchy networks make the transition from cargo bikes to independent cycling a tricky proposition - in New Zealand, a petition reaches parliament to at least let kids and other vulnerable riders use the pavement, while at least you can now get a pair of matching mother and daughter bikes to ride. Dandyhorse looks back at Toronto's radical feminist bike zine from the days when cutting and pasting meant glue and scissors - but the barriers to women cycling (at least in countries like the UK) have not gone away. Not that diversity is solely about women and children - Chicago's slow roll looks back at three years of bringing cycling to parts of the city other campaigns don't reach, while cycling can also be a tool to improve the lives of the rural poor even if the powers that be don't even seem to recognise it as a means of transport.

Evidence base

We may need to campaign as much with emotion and stories as reason and evidence, but that doesn't mean data doesn't help - especiall when the evaluation of an LA road narrowing from four lanes to three found it reduced crashes without increasing congestion, while GIS data has multiple uses including assessing bike share potential in Salzburg. If you want to know where to put in your bike network collision data can be a good, if slightly gruesome way of mapping desire lines while Glasgow's Strava data shows how much faster cycling speeds are on main routes rather than back roads, although having cycled in Glasgow, that may just be a survival mechanism.

The nut behind the wheel

Some cyclists are looking forward to driverless cars in the hope that dangerous drivers (whether or not they are dressed like clowns) will become a thing of the past but Mercedes don't seem to have got the memo, although there's no word on whether they will be also programmed to overtake cyclists at all costs. West Midlands Police continue to get their priorities right - but do we need a minimum passing law or just better enforcement of the laws we have? Certainly in Ireland the theory side of driving around cyclists is admirably detailed, and yet drivers appear to remain clueless. In New York, after an apparently illegal truck runs over a cyclist, the police spring into action and start ticketing cyclists (perhaps they could combine it with an unthinking safety campaign) while Irish police looking to catch red light jumpers discover who the real scofflaws are...


And finally, as Sustrans completes the first complete UK wide set of cycle maps, Danny MacAskill releases a timely video illustrating some of the skills you'll need to tackle the worst of the barriers and chicanes you might encounter on it...