The Great Big Sincerest Form of Flattery Bike Blog Roundup

When Gandhi (or was it Einstein) said, "First they ignore us, then they ridicule us, then they fight us, then we win", he missed out a vital interim stage, where they copy our tactics: if last week we had guerrilla action creating bike lanes, this week it was the anti-cyclist forces making their own interventions on the streets and even harnessing cute children to protest cycle routes because (and we're still scratching our heads over this one), they cause pollution. Not that this is new - Seattle Bike blog reminded us that, while it was bottom up action that created the Burke-Gilman trail there was also a local battle against it. Meanwhile Brooklyn Spoke suggests that we stop doing the NIMBYs job for them by prominently flagging up the loss (or even the lack of loss) of parking spaces in every proposal.

There's none so blind as will not see

Meanwhile, if campaigners are so worried about appearing anti-car that we fail to spell out the problem, it's no wonder we have become blind to the damage that private cars do - although the mayor of Barcelona clearly has no such qualms. This blindness might be the reason why bikes aren't taken more seriously as the answer to congestion - as opposed to the cause of it and why investment in cycling infrastructure seemed to be spun as a driver of inequality rather than part of the solution. Sometimes, of course, it's just deliberate scaremongering - but there's no end to the illogicality of arguments some people will deploy against schemes like 20mph limits. As a result of such scare stories, a trail extension has been scuppered in Oregon due to fears of 'undesirables', while the interim capital trail in Maryland will have to take a long and dangerous detour because Chevy Chase's 'narrow streets' won't accommodate large numbers of people cycling and walking. And while the tone in the media may be beginning to shift in New Zealand, some people are no longer content with trolling cyclists in the comments and have taken to punching them in the ribs, apparently just for being a cyclist, or in the face for remonstrating at them parking in the bike lane - San Francisco's new parking ambassadors might need to use a bit more diplomacy.

Conflict by design

It's an interesting feature of the current backlash in London, that - while sometimes there are genuine conflicts of interest between pedestrians and cyclists, we only seem to be concerned about pedestrian comfort when it comes to inconveniencing bikes. Elsewhere, Dublin council seems perfectly prepared to do a u-turn on separating pedestrians and cyclists on College Green Plaza even though Dutch experts agree that sharing won't work, while the loss of a wide dropped kerb in Bath will actually increase pedestrian and bike conflict on what was previously a safe route. Meanwhile, in Dublin, motorcycles are bringing in the worse aspect of some Dutch cycle paths by using a Dublin cycle lane at a deadly junction.

Seeing what works

As a new project attempts to explain how Dutch cycling approaches might work in London, is there a danger that Brexit might make it harder for us to argue for continental approaches in our new Little Britain? Fortunately, we do have some decent local examples of creating people-centred streets in the UK, which might offer some lessons for Belfast as well, as would reconsidering why the city even needs an inner ringroad. Failing that, we can just settle back and watch another great Bicycle Dutch video, this time of Rotterdam. There are also lessons for Toronto from places like Ajax, while Australia is getting its first example of a bicycle boulevard in Perth. Unfortunately, though, even with good examples of design popping up all over in America, it's a painfully slow process getting its street design bible updated - and even if you've got good standards, they're no good if plans don't follow them as in Christchurch's latest planned routes.

Meanwhile, perhaps Copenhagen's 'cycle snake' should come with a health warning to other cities that elevated bike paths might have symbolic uses as a way of signalling ambition, but that tidying cyclists away on a shelf is not the answer to your city's street problems.

Politics gears up

As this year's elections start to get underway, Cheshire East council has pledged to support Space for Cycling, committing 8.5% of the local transport budget to active travel, while the SNP in Glasgow have signed up for 10% of the transport budget - but will their East Dunbartonshire colleagues be as progressive? We Walk, We Cycle, We Vote has been pestering politicians again in Scotland to try and get more to sign up but be warned - seen up close local politics in action can be a dispiriting business. In Greater Manchester, the Lib Dem candidate for mayor is the latest to talk to Cycling UK, while Just Step Sideways summarises the candidates' positions so far. Meanwhile, campaigning goes on - with Chris Boardman and 27,000 others calling for a change in the Highway Code, while Pedal on Parliament still needs your cash and more importantly your feeder rides.

Further afield, Trump's budget will be bad news for cyclists and cities generally - Congress should fight to save the TIGER grants which have been behind a lot of what's been built for cycling in recent years. In New York, councillors understand that safety requires stronger design standards - but meanwhile a Montana legislator stands by his anti-cyclist bill, but an Australian politician admits his idea to use Strava to police cyclists was not his finest moment. Hopefully there wil be a similarly refreshing response to the campaigners on the 'helmet optional' ride - it's a shame they didn't manage to get Arnie to join them, although he went on a little helmet optional ride of his own.


Plan to fail ...

As we are reminded that without support, cycling can be fragile even in successful cycling cities, some strategies leave a lot to be desired such as Belfast's bicycle network plan which won't even deliver kids safely to school while the Midlands' transport strategy doesn't even mention cycling at all. Washington DC's 1975 cycling strategy might have achieved a lot more if it hadn't been left on a shelf for 25 years - Ireland's climate change plans recognise the importance of cycling but not the the point of actually investing in it. Indeed, there's nothing like contrasting fine words with reality to see which strategies are worth the paper they're written on: Baltimore's snow removal policy puts pedestrians and cyclists last, whatever its complete streets policy might say, while the state of Stuttgart's traffic free paths makes it pretty clear where the city's priorities lie and cyclists in Lancaster are expected to clear their own paths The ECF considers seven policies that drive the integration of bikes and trains - while in New York it seems bike share users have already got that multi-modal transport down.

Making progress

There were sign of progress this week, despite all the backlash - with 87% of respondents favouring space for cycling on the Old Kent Road, while plans for the A34 segregated cycle route are much improved and need support in the coming consultation. The dualling of the A21 is bringing in some impressive cycling infrastructure while another section of the A10 corridor cycle path is officially opened. The purchase of a site in Eastbourne could help unlock a key priority route for the council. Further afield, after six year of campaigning, Philadelphia announces plans for a protected bike lane as part of its Vision Zero plans, while Brooklyn's Fourth Street may get protected cycle lanes after the city changes its mind - and a short stretch of two way track will also be a key link to Brooklyn Bridge. In Portland, at least the map now shows where a dangerous gap is; hopefully a precursor to actually plugging it.

Yet more reasons to invest

What's still baffling is the resistance there is to investing in cycling as the evidence continues to pile up, this week from the World Health Organisation on how cycling could stem the type two diabetes epidemic while researchers suggest we should look after our 'jam tarts' and cycle more to be like the Amazon tribespeople who have very little heart disease (maybe draw a line at the intestinal worms though). The money the health service saves should offset the cost of patching up the broken cyclists who have come a cropper on Edinburgh's tram tracks - hopefully Manchester's new tram line plans will take heed of some lessons learned. And while cycling and walking can support local businesses, that has to be a two-way street, with some compromises on both sides; a timely reminder as errandonneering season kicks off again.

Understanding risk

We talk a lot about risk in cycling - but a lot depends on exposure and if you use the idea of the standard dose then cycling does seem very safe - but working out the numbers actually cycling is more complicated than it looks. Meanwhile, new research suggests that women aren't all that more risk averse than men, they are just more willing to admit it. Even so, cycling policies don't seem to be designed with women in mind and when you do cycle - especially assertively - you end up becoming 'that woman with the bike'. Meanwhile, a large-scale survey finds we're all scofflaws whatever our means of transport - but among cyclists it's mainly to stay safe. Perhaps if more councils followed Camden's lead on lorry safety we wouldn't feel the need.

And finally

An unusual road hazard on a new-to-us blog: the unique challenge of cycling in Paris during London fashion week, when your bike weighs more than half the models.