The Great Big Congestion-busting Blog Roundup

We start this week with something that isn't at all surprising to cycle campaigners - that building new roads only provides a short-term fix to congestion, with those new roads rapidly filling up with new car trips. This is the finding of a new CPRE report, which argues that the case for tripling the roads budget is based on wishful thinking, and that new roads simply create more traffic and will often fail local economies, discouraging cycling and soon ending up just as jammed as before.

Maybe a sensible policy would involve ensuring that any budget for road expansion has to be matched by equivalent spending on enabling active travel, especially as 'investing' in car-centric transport and development carries so many hidden costs, even things so mundane as how early school starts. It even carries substantial costs for the people who continue to make trips by car. Bear in mind that just £120 million could link up every Oxfordshire town with a 366-mile cycle network. The picture isn't rosy in the United States, however, with the Trump presidency set to slash investment programmes that are vital for cycling, and cycling infrastructure.

Electric cars, self-driving cars and Uber probably won't solve our congestion problems - maybe we could just trap the self-driving ones (it seems pretty easy, anyway). Uber's cars even seem to manage crashing all by themselves, with the company suspending its self-driving service.

Road 'safety'

The road haulage industry in Ireland most certainly does not appear to be the cyclist's friend, calling for a headphone ban and penalty points for poor cycling (whatever that means),  arguing it would be safer than enforcing passing distances, while elsewhere in Ireland a councillor who is opposed to cycling infrastructure has been chosen to head... the Kildare Cycling Forum.

Bizarrely City Connect appear to be using a Pokémon Go-style game to educate children about the hazards they might face on new cycling infrastructure in the city (maybe remove the hazards in the first place?) More constructively, there are calls for the government to form a specific Road Collision Investigation Branch, similar in approach to investigations for other modes of transport like rail and air.

The rate of pedestrian deaths is three time higher in poorer New York neighbourhoods, compared to rich ones - and an additional problem is that, in US cities, people cycling are subject to racial profiling, which is a significant deterrent to active travel. The NYPD also seem to be focusing on the wrong targets - confiscating hundreds of e-bikes, instead of lethal motor vehicles.


Good road and street design is now going global, as a new NACTO design manual is launched, one with input from 72 cities around the world, and that has been endorsed by Transport for London. Maybe this dreadful Irish roundabout design could be the first port of call for a refit, to show how it should be done properly - and change can be made quickly and effectively, as these quick-to-install beefed-up lane buffers in New Zealand demonstrate.

Good cycling design is also appearing at a local level, with the London borough of Waltham Forest issuing their own design handbook to accompany their ongoing Mini Holland improvements. Unfortunately, we still can't seem to get roadwork signs right when it comes to cycling - this despite Ranty Highwayman explaining how it should be done (and pointing us to the existing guidance).

Camden Cycling Campaign have produced a nice overview of the recent changes to roads and streets in their London borough - but new cycling infrastructure in Cambridge is being built without some sensitivity to existing hedgerows. Meanwhile the problem of rat-running on rural lanes is a tricky one to fix.

Cycling for all ages and abilities

The Bicycle Association has announced a new strategy attempting to deal with the worryingly low uptake of cycling amongst British children, with cycling to school rates remaining below 2% for the last twenty years. At the other end of the age scale, Cycling Without Age has now arrived in Ireland, and is in New Zealand too - just two of the 26 countries this amazing project has spread to. The 2 Wheeled Wolf now has an e-bike to help him get around Colchester. Finally an interesting study suggests that women aren't actually more risk-averse than men - it might be the case that they're just more honest about the kinds of safe environments they want.

Going Dutch, with and without helmets

While Brew City Bike is exploring the Netherlands on two wheels - and marvelling at the normality of ubiquitous infrastructure - Bicycle Dutch is Down Under speaking to ministers, but also (unfortunately) having to wear a cycle helmet. Thankfully here might be some hope as the country seems to be getting its mojo back, with protests challenging helmet laws. France is going in the other direction, however, introducing helmet compulsion for children. There is, thankfully, a huge amount of common sense on helmets in this excerpt from Peter Walker's new book - How Cycling Can Save the World. You can hear Peter speaking in London next month, as well as in Newcastle.


The attack in Westminster led the Invisible Visible Man to ponder why cars and violence are often so closely linked - perhaps because cars an ideal weapon, one so familiar we don't notice it, where attacks are hard to distinguish from 'everyday' road violence, and a kind of weapon that offers detachment. Work (should) be starting this week on a protected cycleway on the bridge where the attack started, but it seems that in light of the events (and perhaps in the wake of odd suggestions that the existing superhighway 'enabled' the attack), that work has now been postponed indefinitely. When, and hopefully not if, construction starts, it will build on the success of the North-South superhighway, so successful it has now been nominated for an award.


Cycling Dumfries have come up with a Polygon of Perplexity to allow people to identify the problems and barriers they face in taking up cycling for everyday trips, while Kats Dekker argues that if you are frustrated by anti-cycling comments, maybe the issue just needs be framed differently. Unfortunately there doesn't appear to be any way of presenting good street design in New York that can overcome belligerent community boards who can block change at every turn.

... and Voting

It's election season, with local and mayoral elections coming up soon, across England, Wales and Scotland.  A west of England Metro Mayor could have significant implications for cycling in cities like Bristol, with a similar election in both the Liverpool city region and Manchester. North of the border Walk Cycle Vote launched informally at the weekend, and  have provided a handy timetable of events for elections in Scotland, including hustings in Glasgow, and Pedal on Parliament coming to Inverness. There's a specific Women's Cycle Forum Scotland meeting next week too.

Cycling expansion

An independent bike shop in Oxford is expanding its own network of hire bikes, following success in the city - there's not such good news in Copenhagen, however, as the company behind the city's bike share system has gone bankrupt.

Meanwhile e-bike sales rising sharply in the United States - this Urban Arrow e-assist cargo bike that can carry 350kg of load is certainly inspiring - and Gazelle have opened up a new office in California, hoping to build upon, and lead, change across the Atlantic. For inspiration, here are ten cities across the world that are making great progress in building cycling into everyday life.

And finally

While at the extreme end of the hardship scale some people are currently engaging in a 5000km race across the length of Australia, it's perhaps no surprise that some rather more mundane cycling is the best way to sell a cheese sandwich to the Dutch.