The Great Big Round and Round and Roundabout Bike Blog Roundup

In these grim times, let's start with a little glimmer of light this week as the UK's first Dutch roundabout is approved in Cambridge (not this one), with a few tweaks to make it more Dutch. Belfast could do with one too, if the desire lines around the Stranmills roundabout are anything to go by. But the Dutch do keep on moving the goalposts, increasingly bypassing roundabouts on bikes altogether, perhaps with little bike-only roundabouts of their own.

Back to square one?

Meanwhile in London, five years after the first Bow Roundabout vigil, have we actually made any progress or are we going backwards? The signs do not look good at the moment with the East-West cycle superhighway route to be re-routed away from the Westway which may be difficult as it means negotiating with boroughs that have not proved cycle friendly in the past. That leaves London's bike network looking a bit patchy - although at least Newham's plans for segregated cycle tracks will join up with the CS2 - when in reality it shouldn't be a question of one route or another but building all of them - this all puts Sadiq Khan's commitment to cycling to the test. London's not the only city where east-west routes are challenging as Cardiff shows - while Cambridge is planning a radial network of greenways that are an excellent idea as long as they're built to high enough quality.


Cycle campaigning can often feel like going round in circles, so it's good to mark a few successes - such as the concerted effort from campaigners in Northern Ireland that got plans for a car-centric junction changed to include much more space for cycling while things are changing in San Diego too. Unfortunately they are still pressing ahead with mediocre plans in Sutton and Australia is not immune to ripping out bike lanes (this time in Darwin) before they've had time to bed in. Newcastle may be moving the baseline on its Cycle City Ambition Fund plans but trialling different approaches rather than pressing ahead regardless might be the way forward for the city. In Dublin, strong support is needed for the Liffey cycle route if it's to overcome stiff opposition, while Irish Cycle attempts to tackle those perennial excuses for not investing in cycling: the weather and the lack of space on Irish roads.

Nor does campaigning have to be just about poring over consultation documents: after San Francisco changed its street sweepers to fit into bike lanes, it has actually made some guerrilla interventions permanent and is gradually closing up the gaps in the bike network - while in Pittsburgh they're dancing for safer crossings. For those that prefer spreadsheets to salsa, Bike Pittsburgh are filling the gap in knowledge about cyclist and pedestrian safety. If all this has fired you up, the Space for Cycling roadshow rumbles on with a large turnout in Leeds, while the Bikeshow considers bikelash and how to counter it.

Policing matters

With justice failing for yet another cyclist's family, perhaps if the CPS knew a bit more about cycling they wouldn't drop the ball on apparently open-and-shut cases. Meanwhile the West Midlands Police aren't just setting an example for other forces (although not Cambridge police apparently), they're picking up other unsafe drivers before they do someone an injury. In London, a novel use of anti-social driving laws could see drivers lose their car after a punishment pass too many - but a country-wide crackdown on mobile phone use is sadly only for a week, and besides, however many times they're caught, the right to drive apparently trumps any considerations of safety, while if you are knocked off your bike, plans to limit whiplash claims will equally affect your broken collarbone or broken bike claim. Elsewhere in the world, Sydney cyclists are horrified at impending laws compelling them to carry ID, suggesting Cadel Evans isn't missing much by giving that city a swerve on his bike - and it would appear it's not even illegal to drive in a bike lane in Virginia.

The shortest distance

As campaigners press for a safe direct route to Lewes along the A27 (and Surrey at least rules out banning cycling on the A24 but declines to improve the path alongside it so people don't feel they have to), it's worth remembering that there are places where you can cycle safely and conveniently from city to city - as Hackney Cyclist details while cycling in the Netherlands as the shock waves from Brexit were still spreading - while not everything might be perfect, even if you miss the headline new infrastructure the basic inter-city cycling routes are still pretty good, while Dutch standards of poorly built infrastructure don't really come close to the sort of rubbish we have to put up with. And if the Dutch get tired of cycling everywhere on smooth joined-up infrastructure they can now put their bikes on the high-speed train, something the Danes have been doing in increasing numbers since it became free, while a different kind of bike train is gaining positive responses in Southwark.

What works

In news that will come as no surprise to most of us, but which has apparently yet to make any impression in policy makers' heads, cycling infrastructure is the most cost-effective way to improve public health, the more of it you build (to high quality) the better, and you will get unbeatable returns on investment - plus it delivers not only on our climate goals but on all of the Sustainable Development Goals. While van and HGV traffic is soaring again in the UK, in Edinburgh, rising bike counts suggest the city's investments are paying off, which should be good for business - while in Toronto, cyclists are being urged to let businesses know how trial bike lanes are important to them. In the US, getting to the mall with kids on bikes is an expedition and a half - while in the Netherlands, the experience of being overtaking by a speeding Oma with shopping bags hanging from her handlebars is about to get a whole lot more common as e-bike sales overtake the regular kind.


The idea that cycling is not just for the mamils is gathering momentum - with World Bicycle Relief concentrating on getting female secondary school pupils on two wheels this year; later perhaps they'll be able to pick up a bike share bike if plans develop. However, even in cities like New York, ensuring the poorest areas feel the benefit of bike share schemes takes some planning, while the 'Untokening' puts questions of social justice at the heart of the transport conversation instead of confining it to a side issue. As a few dinosaurs get apoplectic over the thought that a few women might get a small helping hand towards become bike technicians - you'd better hope they never meet the team behind Liv bikes in case they explode - Amanda Batty is tired of trying to understand their point of view and just lays down the law, while a despatch from Portland shows how empowering (and illuminating) a female-only basic maintenance class can be.

Election fallout

Are we strong enough to face the election results again yet? Actually it wasn't all bad news as almost $5bn in bike funding was approved in various ballot measures around the US - measures which will be more important than ever if federal funding dries up, while Pittsburgh has enshrined the mayor's complete streets policy into law. Meanwhile, our post-truth society offers us lessons, as does the success of campaigns such as marijuana legalisation in running against the tide.

Lessons from elsewhere

And those aren't the only lessons from elsewhere we could consider this week. As ever the Dutch lead the way with some pragmatic lessons for New Zealand from the Dutch Cycling Embassy who have given their stamp of approval to Auckland's pink elevated path. For Australia the lessons are just as much about planning around public transport as about infrastructure - perhaps a lesson that Seattle is also taking on board with plans for more homes in bikable areas. Auckland also has a lot to learn from Copenhage where cycling is simply the norm - while for the UK, Japanese style robot bike parking might be just the thing for cycle storage in densely populated areas. Chicago might have picked up on London's floating river path idea - but does it actually make sense in Chicago? Its graceful new cycling and walking bridge, on the other hand, is an outright win. Meanwhile should we learn from Brussels (and other European cities) and let cyclists ignore red lights at selected junctions? And should we also learn from Bremen's compromised cycle streets which are too watered down to make cycling comfortable.

Shaped by and shaping our streets

In another thoughtful piece, the Invisible Visible Man points out how London's shouty and aggressive cyclists are a product of the streets they ride in, as are speeding drivers, (and really, who wouldn't be a little sanctimonious when your co-workers seem to casually advocate murdering you possibly because they're so stressed out by driving). But then again, given the right conditions nothing brings a smile to your face like a bike even if you are supposed to be on a serious infrastructure safari - and it's the cities that give children freedom that succeed in the end. Equally, we can shape our own streets, as Streetfilms and Streetsblog have in the US over the past ten years - or simply by rescuing a magnificent bird that you would never have noticed in a car.

Finally ...

Let's end on a good deed as Christmas approaches: Cycling without Age is coming to Rotherhithe - could you help it to spread across the rest of the UK?