The Great Big Hopes and Fears Bike Blog Roundup

It's been fair to say that most people, certainly in bike blog land, were happy to see the back of 2016 and while some have been looking back many have been looking forward to this year with a mixture of hope and anxiety - here's a flavour of them from Peter Walker in the Guardian Bike Blog, to Birmingham's Urban Cycles to Australia's Bicycle Network. For many, it's a time of New Year's resolutions, and with a tube strike on as we write, some Londoners' vague aspirations to cycle to work may be getting a bit of a boost - at least they will arrive on time and ready to work. For those cycling through the winter (especially tougher ones than ours) here are some timely resolutions. Meanwhile, many of the rest of us have resolved to become this guy when we grow up, but sadly for one Devon cyclist, a collision too far has left him resolving to cycle less from now on.

What are your local authorities' resolutions for 2017?

Whatever our will to keep on cycling (even into our second century), a lot depends on the conditions on the roads, so what changes can we look forward to in 2017? In Wales, councils have until September to complete their consultations on new routes under the Active Travel act, Bristol's new quietway plan will be good for everyone (bearing in mind that quietways vs arterial routes shouldn't be an either/or choice), but it seems Cambridge's cross-city cycle route will be anything but. Belfast will be repurposing a lane of an arterial road to create a new cycle route - Bikefast puts the plans under a microscope while Southampton Cycling Campaign responds to the city's draft 10-year cycling plan. In Sheffield, the city commits itself to act on tram-cycle saftey, tackling the worst five black spots - perhaps something two Dutch students cana help with? (and when they've done that, maybe they can sort out a slippery superhighway to boot). With the new plans for garden towns and villages coming on stream, Lancaster Dynamo gets its points made early about cycling connectivity. On a smaller scale, Lambeth Cyclists need input on their response to the Thornton Ward consultation, Pushbike considers how easy it is to cycle to the city's hospitals, and 2017 could prove 'a tipping point' for potholes. Further afield, Philadelphia is planning new trails this year while Maryland will be implementing planned Bicycle and Pedestrian Priority Areas as mandated in 2015 - and Seattle cyclists hope they've seen the back of 2016 bike plan delays.

Or are they still stuck in the past?

Even as Paris's mayor forges ahead with plans to further curb the city's pollution problems, 2017 didn't get off to a brilliant start with London already breaching annual pollution limits while Newcastle isn't much better. And yet we're still in denial about the harm car dependency brings and our cities are not investing in making a transition to sustainable transport, and some are even suspending bus lanes as an 'innovative' approach to congestion, but at least we'll all soon be able to buy a nifty scarf to fix the problem, so that's all right then. And while we're at it, cities should stop literally putting up barriers to cycling and accept that there's no magic gate that will keep out motorcycles but let in non-standard cycles.

Still, the UK isn't the only place stuck in the past - lower speed limits in a village aren't going down that well in Germany, the Irish are still making excuses about why they don't cycle like the Dutch, and in America Louisville is still ripping out its own heart to accommodate the car - while Denver sill has to learn that if you're widening an already dangerous road, anything else you do to it is just window dressing. On the other hand, for China, an expanding bikeshare market might be a welcome step backwards into their own history of mass cycling.

From street transformations to design details

For those looking for inspiration, the URB-I website offers a gallery of before and after images cataloguing people-friendly transformations - while protected intersections are spreading even faster in the US than protected bike lanes did initially - but, as Transportation Alliance argues for New York, cities do need to raise their design game if they're to achieve truly safe streets (although they maybe don't need a whole extra layer of bureaucracy). Ranty Highwayman helps readers disentangle their hybrid cycle tracks from their parking protected lanes while Transport Providence considers the factors that turn a traffic free route from a dead space to a great space - even late at night. And proving that bike bloggers aren't just kerb nerds, but data nerds too, here's your handy guide to wrangling Stats19 casualty data - or estimating the delays to cyclists caused by traffic lights

Bringing about change

That all begs the question of how we bring about these transformations in the first place - for Modacity life, the secret weapon is the pilot project - certainly better than councils not effectively preparing the ground for real community engagement - while the San Francisco Bike coalition looks back at a year of car-free events and family cycling. Better Bikeshare reminds us of the power of stories bringing a human face to active travel issues - and we need to get out of our own bike bubbles and remember what the reality is like for most people who don't cycle. For some, the driver can be commercial - with a big bank pressing for and funding a walking and cycling bridge in Utrecht so their employees can get into the city in their lunch hour - and when the Financial Times is covering the rise of cargo bikes perhaps businesses in the UK will follow suit; meanwhile in New York it might end up being the courts that drive change as New York City is held liable for not making its streets safer. Failing that, cyclists themselves will continue to press for change themselves (as they always have) with a protest planned outside the Treasury in February to press for more investment.

Political priorities

Normally, when it comes to cycling, politicians confine themselves to policy decisions, usually not brilliant ones (other political parties are available) but some former politicians have been unusually hands on this week, with Lord Heseltine fined for knocking a cyclist off his bike - while at least Nicolas Sarkozy was on a bike albeit riding the wrong way. In Portland, the new mayor braved freezing temperatures to cycle to work on his first day - presumably unlike Toronto's leaders he will keep any promises he makes about keeping bike lanes clear of snow and would shell out for the mini snow ploughs needed to keep protected cycle lanes clear of snow without losing their protection. If Lord Heseltine feels his fine was too harsh, he might want to join CamCycle in giving evidence to the All-Party Parliamentary Group's inquiry into cycling and the justice system - and if it wasn't a devolved matter, Magnatom might have some things to say about his experiences. And as Christchurch prepares to demolish two houses to make way for a cycleway (without losing any parking ...), in the US, states are discovering that they can raid federal funds for walking and cycling and spend it on the roads instead

In Memoriam

The new year meant some mournful stock taking - with Irish Cycle marking the ten cycling fatalities on Ireland's roads, while Go Bike install a ghost bike on the A82 after two deaths in almost the same spot. And with fatalities rising in the United States for all road users but particularly cyclists and pedestrians, the Guardian takes a closer look at the group behind Houston's all too numerous ghost bikes.

The nut - or the robot - behind the wheel

2017 could be the year that driverless cars start to go mainstream and opinions are divided on whether that's a good thing - in the US they may make right-hooks more likely but on the other hand, they're unlikely to drink drive and share their exploits on social media before killing a cyclist - or to catcall and harass women. Whatever the state of the technology that's coming, existing human drivers already see imperfectly so we should design our junctions accordingly; we're also pretty poor at assessing risk, especially when we're constantly being reminded we need to keep ourselves safe while cycling. Ane meanwhile, as humans continue to drive, do non-traffic police need more education about what constitutes a traffic offence around cyclists?


It's safe to say nobody predicted what would happen in 2016, so we're keeping our predictions for 2017 fairly low key - but it's also safe to say that the Fisher-Price toddler turbo trainer is a clear sign that the end times are coming as kids need to be outdoors, preferably causing a nuisance as the world's happiest children do. On a more postive note, perhaps there is one cyclign upside to the Trump presidency, while a recycled paper bike may offer a truly sustainable N+1 if it ever does come off.

And finally

Let's end on a lyrical note, with three more reflective pieces - from the tandeming aunt and uncle providing an unconventional inspiration to the Invisible Visible Man, an unexpectedly poetic look at the life of a Deliveroo rider (warning: don't read if you're hungry) - and a lament for the cycle commute past from one now stuck in a car...