The Great Big This is your Brain in Traffic Bike Blog Roundup

There wasn't much of an overarching theme this week, but with news that UK drivers are spending four days a year looking for parking spots, and Cardiff's drivers are spending 9% of their time stuck in traffic, we did wonder what all that traffic was doing to people's minds, whatever their mode of transport. Certainly it doesn't help this bike-lane-parking delivery driver with the obvious answer to his question - although at least he didn't get sticker on his windscreen for his pains. We've all fantasised about doing that, and half of us have probably fantasised about doing this - staged or not, the harassment was entirely recognisable to many cycling women - while for some, the chance to 'go full caveman' is actually part of the appeal of urban cycling. For others, hostile suburban streets can make you feel like you're on your own as a cyclist - but it's still preferable to driving. Some cyclists hope that driverless cars will make things better, and as their city becomes a proving ground for autonomous vehicles Bike Pittsburgh wants to hear from cyclists and pedestrians about their experiences. Meanwhile, Bristol Cycling has some words of comfort for drivers fuming about 20mph limit, and a cyclist in New Zealand just has one simple plea to drivers.

From good to great

In the years since the Embassy was founded, progress sometimes seems to be elusive, but it's worth celebrating the fact that some of the schemes put forward for cycling are massive improvements on what we were being offered a few years ago - although of course the Dutch and now the Danes do keep moving the goalposts. For instance Glasgow's plans for Sauchiehall Street are pretty good (although of course they could be better), while Bristol Cycling Campaign gives qualified support for the plans for the latest section of the city's quietway. Unfortunately, plans for Sheffield's Knowledge Gateway risk making things worse for cyclists with poorly designed doorzone bike lanes while plans for Keynsham High Street seem to be designing for the wrong kind of cyclists. Meanwhile, as Washington gets more protected bike lanes, in other places there's a battle even to get pavements for pedestrians.

Bike the vote

In Scotland, fresh from having met the Transport Minister, GoBike will be taking the Walk, Cycle, Vote message to the Tories and Greens this month, while Darkerside is gearing up for POP in three cities this year. In Northern Ireland, will Bikefast and NI Greenways be able to repeat their success at reaching out to Assembly candidates in the province's snap election? Meanwhile in London, the mayor's new Cycling and Walking Commissioner doesn't appear to have that firm a grasp on the job yet, while Lord Tebbit is very satisfyingly told to get on his bike after complaining how long it takes to drive along the Embankment.

Elections matter, of course, because every change can be a battle with even even bike-friendly Camden forced to hold an enquiry into continuing the Tavistock Place scheme after a noisy opposition campaign by the taxi drivers and an administrative error - Camden Cyclists has more detail of the hows and whys. In Brooklyn, taking every small change to community boards is turning everything into a battle, while Irish councillors in Naas narrowly approve again a cycle scheme they'd already approved before. Meanwhile, people wanting safer streets in Toronto now have a handy toolkit to help them make their case, while an active travel conference in Wales was interesting but a bit of an echo chamber for the already converted, while issues for cyclists in Brussels will seem very familiar to those in the UK.

As Kats Dekker ponders the purpose of parliamentary enquiries other than making participants feel better at having got things off their chests, Califonia's legislators are getting on with a package of bills affecting cycling - including a bill designed to make the state's transport department follow its own guidelines. In Ireland proposals for a passing distance law gets an irrational reaction, while in New Zealand, reports favour some legislative changes that would make life easier for cyclists and pedestrians.

What kind of a city do you want?

As we increasingly look beyond individual cycle schemes to what sort of cities we want to live in (perhaps even one with a giant central controlling brain ... or maybe not), New Cycling asks if Newcastle is best serving its inhabitants by making it a place you can drive to, and park, easily. Even in Utrecht, fabulous as it is, there seems to be some scepticism about dedicating more space for cycling - although the city does have a traffic light hotline (shades of the 90s and the cones hotline there...). London's cycle network gets the tube map treatment, handily highlighting the gaps in the network - but does it double as a reflective jacket? In America, Providence is moving in the right direction by making the most of its freeway removal - while further north, Toronto's spaghetti junction is going to be completely rebuilt, with bike lanes. Memphis wants to rediscover its soul and restore dignity to those walking and cycling, while Pennsylvania has the novel idea of talking to local communities about what they want before starting urban projects. However, the city that wins the cycling internet this week has to be Malmo, with its 'Bicycle house' apartment block where you can wheel your cargo bike right up to (and inside) your front door, and where even the mouse shops have tiny bikes outside.

Safety by design ...

As calls grow for a Vision Zero taskforce for Texas, New York reports on how its plans are progressing, three years in, while it's always worth having another look at how systemic (or sustainable) safety principles underpin vision zero. In Seattle, a redesigned street has worked so well for safety it's going to get extended south. In San Francisco they're looking at how to make tram tracks safer for cyclists, but there's no such mystery for bus stops, although right turning buses remain a problem even in Denmark.

... or by enforcement

Meanwhile, cyclists in Greater Manchester who still have to ride on the road will hopefully see fewer close passes, as might cyclists in Ireland, but only if the funding is there - but could the close pass message the police are using be made a bit clearer? At least, if you are knocked off your bike, the 'small claims' limits won't be so low for cyclists - the Cycling Solicitor explains the details.

What gets funded ...

As the UK government continues to refuse to include e-bikes in its electric vehicle subsidy scheme, we're just continuing business as usual with most of the downsides conventional vehicles bring - whereas in France you can get a €200 subsidy on your e-bike and in Oslo it's €550. In Wales, Cycle Stuff wonders at the cost of NOT lighting paths like the Taff Trail, while across the Irish sea the Maynooth Cycle Campaign tries to tease out how much Ireland is actually spending on Cycling. While even though Americans apparently are keener than ever on funding active travel infrastructure, and its highway network is increasingly like a giant Ponzi scheme that is already coming home to roost, California's governor knows where his transport priorities lie.

True grit

As even the Danes are put off by icy paths (and, for women, darkness), at least in Lancaster bike paths are seeing some gritting. In Portland, it's taking volunteer efforts in some places to clear the gravel off the bike lanes, while in Boston it's beginning to look as if the city's protected bike lanes were just built as snow storage in winter.

Uber for bikes?

It was a mixed week for bike share schemes with one of China's low cost schemes set to start in Cambridge - perhaps they should also rescue Reading's scheme after the council withdraws its subsidy. Brighton is launching its own scheme this summer - handy for attending football matches, possibly. Meanwhile Portland will be adding adaptive bikes to its BikeTown scheme.

Bikes for all

As one of Waltham Forest's mini Holland routes is threatened by plans to build schools with all the school run madness that entails, one writer asks if it's time to ban cars from the school run altogether? That triggered the usual comments about people who can't walk or cycle - but cycling is more inclusive than many think; indeed it helped one cyclist get through cancer treatment to his spine, while blindness is no impediment to becoming a bike mechanic - and passing on those skills to others. Still, it's worth remembering that other barriers are less visible, such as fear of crime among minorities in America.

And finally

It's always fun to look back at cycling more than a century ago and discover that essentially very little has changed when it comes to keeping track of the miles (or meeting partners on the road).