The Great Big Turning the Corner Bike Blog Roundup

As we prepare to turn the page on 2016, with hope of a better year to come. British Cycling launches its petition for a universal 'give way' rule for turning traffic - attracting the support of the London Cycle Campaign and Camcycle as well as Pushbikes in Birmingham, albeit with some caveats about taking some of the claims with a pinch of salt and warnings that actually implementing it may be a concern given UK road conditions. It's worth noting that it's already the law in Pennsylvania, although it hasn't eliminated turning collisions, while in New York a bill would allow bikes to use the 'leading pedestrian interval' to get a safe jump on turning traffic.

Consultation watch

Whether it's the need to get things underway 'by the end of the year' or what we don't know, but there seems to be a slew of consultations out there, most of which are deserving of support if not perfect. So depending on where you live or cycle, get going with responding to Lambeth's improvements to its 20mph streets and its plans for two-way cycling on one-way streets, Bristol's spatial plan and transport study, and Richmond's Quietway - its Heart of Twickenham plans, which need a fair bit of work - while in Birmingham consultation will be starting soon over clean air zones. Groups are hard at work trying to make sense of Newcastle's Blue House junction despite the council's continued failure to see cycling as a real mode of transport and the atmosphere of mistrust engendered by its original Northern Access Corridor plans. Further afield, the latest major cycle way in Christchurch needs support from the Nimbys, Auckland seems to have lost its nerve at the last minute over a key junction and (winning the prize for the rantiest response to a consultation for some time) a road in Ottawa doesn't need tweaking so umch as an ALL CONSUMING PURIFYING FLAME. Exhausted yet? Not surprising as 'participation' without any power in planning issues is likely to just bring about engagement fatigue.

Finally going Dutch?

As Cambridge looks as if it will win the race to bring the first Dutch-style roundabout (as opposed to a 'Dutch-style' roundabout) to the UK, as the local liaison group opts for the 'do optimum' option, Irish Cycle raises the need for properly cycle friendly roundabouts in Ireland too - and it looks as if Portland is planning one too. Meanwhile, Aberdeen's Third Don Crossing shows very little sign of a Dutch approach and neither does a new junction at the centre of Lewisham, despite years of campaigning, and Bremen's plans for its latest cycle street might end up benefitting drivers more than cyclists. The planned update of the Welsh Active Travel Design guidance might be a chance to raise the bar further there. If you're struggling to remember what Dutch-style infrastructure consists of (and if you're a regular reader of this blog, I can't imagine how that might happen) here's how you negotiate a massive motorway - the Dutch like building roads too, which may be why their drivers are so happy, although when they decide they no longer need them to be so big they turn them into green boulevards, although it seems even the Dutch aren't immune to a little bikelash against such plans



London's new mayor Sadiq Khan stole the headlines earlier this week with his announcement of record cycling spending, which sounds so much better translated into dollars, apparently to be partly funded through cost savings elsewhere - although he'll have to start building something soon if he's actually going to spend the money. Now it would just be good if the rest of the UK could be similarly well funded - although perhaps we should stop focusing on funding 'for cycling' and instead make safe roads overall the norm, and let the funding follow.

Elswewhere Cardiff by Bike continues to look at Cardiff's cycling strategy, considering how well it will connect up cyclists to the places where they need to go. Access to existing trails will improve but encouragingly the primary focus is on new routes - although the North-South one is a bit of a hotch potch compared with the East-West plans. In Ireland, the EU pledges £19.5m in funding for cycling, including Northern Ireland's greenways plan - although unfortunately recommendations to invest in cycling and walking infrastructure got axed from Ireland's watered-down obesity strategy. Finland sets a target of a 30% modal share for walking and cycling - and certainly Helskinki has seen some recent changes as its cycling infrastructure evolves, which is more than could be said for LA, where six years on the city's bike plan remains just pretty lines on a map.

A cycling city

But what would make LA - or anywhere else - a cycling city? A question Dublin may need to answer as it gears up to host Velo City again in 2019. It could consider the ten elements that make Copenhage cycle friendly from design to political will - while there's no point calling for bike share when you've persistently blocked moves to make your streets safer for cycling. In Davis, the cycling infrastructure is so pervasive it actually makes it hard to navigate for a cyclist who's used to there being just the one route - while a dependence on sharrows and its compulsory helmet law keeps Seattle out of the top drawer among US cities. In the UK the Guardian looks back at Hull's heyday as a cycling city (the only nice thing Larkin could say about it) while in Italy, Kim Harding's 'slow' tour of Milan gets a bit quick even for his bikeshare ebike.

Meanwhile, some progress is being made around the world, with schoolkids and speeches opening Auckland's shining path to the sea - will Wellington ever be able to catch up with its coastal route? In New York, the river front is finally opened up for people walking and cycling - and while you'd be looking at Birmingham for a long time before you mistook it for a cycling city right now, its plans for a track along the A38 connecting Selly Oak to the ringroad do look promising

That cycling revolution in full

A few hot spots aside, the latest English stats show cycling levels falling if anything, especially among women, at best stuck at 2% of all trips although it seems more and more of them are now captured on Strava. One woman who is definitely not cycling less has just broken Billie Fleming's long standing record and celebrated with an extra scone, while there were fewer miles recorded in the static cycling record attempt but it did light up a building; you might not be able to power your house any time soon with your bike, but you could help power a protest

Tis the season

Despite (or perhaps because of) the impending festivities, there was little sign of goodwill to all road users, with Magnatom getting an egging and discovering it's *still* his fault (at least according to the Internet) although at least nobody's pushed him off his bike yet. In Sheffield an over entitled driver has a strange idea of what the modern world means, while for one cyclist, a few thank yous would make a world of difference (perhaps drivers are just secretly guilty, knowing they've made the wrong transport choice). And a convicted drink-driving hit-and-run driver sank to new depths when she started a victim blaming petition


It looks like Christmas may have come a bit early for Kingston council as its mini Holland scheme nets £500k in fines (aka 'a stupidity tax') in one week - and after some public complaints about illegal parking on a key Manchester cycle route spate of tickets are issued showing it can be done. In New York, illegal parking got so bad that even the local businesses were complaining about it and it turned out it was possible to do something about it - but it's the New York cops' ability to park anywhere they like that contributes to their windshield perspective. In the end, it's probably design rather than enforcement that will make a difference. And if you are wondering how important the whole issue of parking really is, two accpimts of a dooring, both thankfully non fatal from the UK and Toronto remind us just how much impact even a minor crash can have on even confident committed cyclists - and that small car insurance claims aren't always just about whiplash - and there's also yet more evidence that drivers really cannot see you especially if they're relying on their peripheral vision.

Beyond parking, while the review of sentencing is welcome, it doesn't go far enough - penalties for drivers should concentrate on deterrence, rather than retribution. And when it comes to policing cyclists, it's probably a good thing we're no longer limited to 6mph going through a junction, while New South Wales's u-turn over cycling without id is a welcome spot of good news.

Politics as unusual

We no longer know what politics as usual might be - but with the dust settling somewhat, Cycling Industry News considers the impact on the bike industry of the elections in the US - where at least outdoor recreation such as cycling will now be counted towards GDP figures. Here in the UK, a constituent challenges the Transport Secrtetary to join him on a bike after he revealed his ignorance about cycling - while ineffective promises do nothing to change anything except increase political mistrust (perhaps we should join today's strike instead). In Ireland, the Transport Minister claims the climate targets were too ambitious while Meath County Council brushes off objections to its greenway plans without answering any of them although at least Dublin councillors can recognise a risible proposal to increase speed limits when they see one. And, while we're used to the idea that cycling contributes massively to the economy - if the latest trade plans break down it will all apparently be the fault of cheap Chinese bicycles.

Carry on campaigning

But we keep on keeping on - and Shannon Galpin has some sound advice for you if you are struggling. Kats Dekker suggests that women's voices are the best way to articulate the spatial unfairnes the car brings (something for the Festival of Women and Bicycles to consider perhaps?). Or perhaps we should just be listening more to eight-year-olds who seem to have their heads screwed on - it's better than well meaning advice on cyclists' responsibilities which totally ignore the reality of both human nature and what it's like to actually cycle on UK roads. If you're in Edinburgh the Roseburn group needs your support while in Porland, campaigners are taking a more direct approach and take over a terrifying and deadly street with hay bales and home made signs - or at the very least get out and explore solutions for a deadly junctions. In Washington, Rootchopper finds a fitting use for a $100 bill he found while riding his bike, while Inland Fiets considers the rights and wrongs of (mostly white) campaigners pressing for cycling infrastructure in (mostly black) communities. And finally, while not disputing the importance of infrastructure, Radwagon argues that disparaging training, especially for children isn't the way to go.

Tis the season (part two)

Finally, tt may have escaped your attention, but Christmas is coming which means the annual Christmas tree by bike gallery, proving you don't need a car (or even a cargo bike). And as you struggle through rain, damp, darkness, mild iciness and the dustings of snow that the UK considers a blizzard, nothing you do will be at all impressive compared to this chap.

That's it for the 2016 blog roundups - we hope to have a special end-of-year review from a guest post, but your rounder-upper is heading for her winter break. We hope you've enjoyed them and found them useful - and if you want to support the work of the Embassy please do consider a Christmas donation to keep us rolling.