The Great Big No Fool Like an Old Fool Bike Blog Roundup

Pity your poor blog roundup compiler at this time of year when all blog posts have to be scrutinised for inherent implausibility as well as read, bookmarked and digested into a pithy sentence - anyway, call us kill joys but we're pretty certain that Birmingham cyclists won't be using an app to trigger a green light, and nor will horses and bikes be appearing on the motorway hard shoulder any time soon. And we wish Opus the Poet luck as he keeps track of the carnage caused by bikes and the drivers of America in their national park-in protest. Meanwhile if this sort of puckish humour isn't your bag, an April Fool Kidical Mass is a genuine delight.

Fool or just baffling?

Of course, at times like these it's hard to distinguish the spoofs from reality - so it's only due to the date that we can be certain that Nick Ferrari really did blame Westminster's cycle lanes for the terror attack (and work on building protected ones is now genuinely being delayed) while a Denver commentator seems to worry that the city investing in cycling and public transport will put back the cause of cycling and public transport by decades. Perhaps this explains why London is now delaying extending its East-West Superhighway by four years and a San Diego politician is proposing delaying a protected cycleway by a further two years, because nothing else seems to. But then again, when someone holds a position you find baffling in the teeth of the evidence, you need to dig down a little deeper to find the ideologies that underpin it

Meanwhile, Some prankster has been putting out even more meaningless than usual 'cyclists dismount' signs at roadworks in Belfast - obviously the sensible thing to do is to re-route the cyclists through a building instead. And in Oakland, bafflingly, flowerbeds get the protection of a fence while cyclists have to make do with just a line of paint.

Growing up on bikes, or growing away from them

As all campaigners eventually must, Subversive Suburbanite makes the pilgrimage from mini Holland to big Holland with her 10-year-old daughter and finds it's the children cycling independently that's really striking to her. In Family Ride, as the cargo bike becomes nothing more than a glorified cycle rack, kids cycling independently bring a slightly different perspective to Seattle's bike network - while the Bicycle Association in the UK recognise that advocating for cycle networks is the best way to get more kids cycling. Research in America looks at the attitudes behind teenage girls' loss of interest in cycling - it's not exclusively about helmet hair, as it turns out - while junior campaigners in California have been surveying their fellow students about safer bike lanes - and for many groups, including those in black and poorer neighbourhoods seeing people like them using bikes (in this case bike share bikes) is also an important factor, after safer streets and access to bikes. Meanwhile, don't think that the shift away from driving among younger Americans will prove permanent without structural change - in many cases they just can't afford to drive (and we should remember that driving versus not driving isn't necessarily a binary choice but more of a spectrum of behaviour and circumstances).

Or growing our societies away from cars

As Paris fights back against the dominance of the car, Belfast's bicycle network plan doesn't go anything like far enough although the city is at least tying urban realm development with building cycleways on its currently car-dominated High Street. Go Bike also gives a conditional welcome to public realm improvements at Govan Cross but it could also do much more - no wonder Pedal on Parliament needs to put recent increases in cycling in Scotland into perspective. In Richmond, the Twickenham and Strawberry Hill 'village vision' plans might be an opportunity to make the case for cycling, while if you missed it, Lancashire appear to be consulting all over again on the same cycling and walking strategy they consulted on last year. In Charlotte, the city takes the first steps towards a protected bike network with two planned routes. And for campaigners everywhere, the Silicon Valley Bike Vision Plan might be the tool they need to show up which communities are getting it right - and where more work is needed.

Designing streets for people

Newcastle's Streets for People project has much to recommend it but the city needs to be more ambitious about reducing through traffic if it's not to let residents down again - plans for the Blue House Junction which will still increase capacity for motor traffic despite falling acutal levels in recent years, don't bode well. As we rebalance our streets, we do need to make sure we are designing for what pedestrians actually want and how people behave - and also getting the numbers of users right in the first place also help. Some of design issues may affect how the new parallel zebra crossings work in practice, now that they can be widely used. A writer in Strong Towns wonders if a bikeway would make a scary racetrack of a 'main street' safer for everyone (but doesn't seem to consider people on bikes to be potential shoppers ...). And while bikes can carry more than people, potentially freeing up city streets, we need to make sure they're not then clogging up the cycleways by further reallocating space away from the car.

Vote bike

Meanwhile, the local elections have got into gear with Cycling UK's 'Vote Bike' tool targeting the metropolitan mayors with specific local asks from the West of England to Liverpool while Just Step Sideways also has a wish list for the Greater Manchester candidates. We Walk, We Cycle, We Vote launch their campaign on Mother's day on the cycle paths of Edinburgh and also produced a handy briefing note to take to hustings and meetings, while Spokes looks in more detail at the issues in Edinburgh. In Cardiff, they're holding local elections hustings while in Derby the deputy council leader has signed up to the Space for Cycling pledge. Further afield, one Pittsburgh candidate for mayor would rather spend bike lane money on sorting out the city's water supply even though it would be a drop in the ocean, while Brexit takes on a sharper edge with EU transport ministers pledging to include active travel provision in all their mobility plans.

Taking it to the streets

What with Pedal on Parliament and Space for Cycling, April 22nd (and the 23rd) should be marked in red in most UK cyclists' calendars, with mass rides in cities across the UK, while Dublin cyclists have already taken to the streets in support of safe space for cycling on the Liffey quays. In San Francisco, cyclists and officials got on bikes for what sounds very much like an infrastructure safari to consider improvements to 'the hairball' intersection while Streetsblog looks at how one mother stopped a street widening project with bike rides and other campaigns - and is now making the case for a street diet instead.

Elsewhere people are rolling up their sleeves - there's an opportunity to help build a cycle link in Bristol in April, while an impromptu memorial and painted-on crossing in Portland after a pedestrian's death is now becoming an official crossing - while Oregonians can also now help crowdfund safe streets projects (really looking forward to rolling this approach out to road building too...). In Memphis, they're turning temporary experiments into permanent solutions.

On the more traditional campaigning side, it's good to see the bike industry more widely recognising the power of advocacy to create customers, while USA Cycling is following British Cycling's lead and aiming to build its non-racing membership with benefits including campaigning for safer streets (maybe don't try and make all cyclists responsible for the treatment they get from drivers though ...), while NewCycling releases its draft campaign priorities for the year.

Operation Close Pass gets closer

With Manchester's close pass operation getting underway and four more policing areas planning to roll it out is there a danger of diluting the message as it gets beyond the reach of the West Midlands police? Cambridgeshire constabulary certainly seem to have missed the point. Meanwhile in the US, the solution to police crackdowns on black cyclists isn't targeting white areas too ...

Operation missing link?

Sadly, no such operation exists, yet, but if it did, People for Bikes' Network Analysis Tool will help show how well each part of a city is connected with the rest - for even among those people living near cycle routes lack of direct routes to where they want to go are still a barrier to cycling. And some gaps were closed, at least away from the UK with a short section of new trail that provides an important link in Seattle, while Vancouver's Arbutus Greenway is already providing a new mental map of the city before it's even been properly opened - and the Te Whau pathway might do something similar for Greater Auckland. As plans advance to upgrade Manhattan's Fifth Avenue cycle lanes to a protected cycle track, Seattle needs to reconsider only providing space for bikes and pedestrians on one side of a new bridge.

Show us the money

With all this talk of spending on cycling - what has it ever done for us? Well, apart from cycle tourism injecting £345m into the Scottish economy, while cycling generally is worth $780m to the Minnesotan economy. In New Zealand, riding the Otago Rail Trail means taking in one of the big rural economy success stories - no wonder Christchurch' is willing to push cycle funding over 10% of the city's transport spend - while People for Bikes has advice for businesses who want to get a slice of that bike tourism money. Not that it's just about tourism, either - Bruce Whyte of the Glasgow Centre for Population Health considers the wider importance of investment in active travel and why it's needed, on his bike to work. Even LA recognises that people's lives are more important than potholes and diverts money into its Vision Zero plan, but unfortunately the Trump administration plans to cut the main source of federal funding for bike projects quicker than was initiall thought, while in Pennsylvania there are extra financial barriers to municipalities discouraging them from creating bike lanes. And finally, in what is almost the definition of 'crumbs from the table', Lancashire are to allocate an extra £0.5m to cycle safety after an underspend on parish bus services.

Mapping matters

Bike bloggers do love a good map - and GICycle's now completed PhD gives a good insight into how spatial information can improve safety - although it helps if incidents like 'doorings' actually get tracked in the first place - while it's shown some pretty strong evidence that removing Sydney's College Street cycle lane was a dangerous mistake. Mapping of pollution levels - this time in Toronto - continue to find that the benefits of cycling outweigh the risks - although stats or no stats, once the perception that cycling is dangerous has been cemented into the popular culture it's very hard to remove it.

Finally, and sadly, the map that many cyclists have been fixed on this week has been the 'dots' in the Trans Pacific Wheel Race, which came to a tragic and premature end, with tribute paid to Mike Hall by 1000 Australian cyclists, instead of the triumphant celebration Sydney's bicycle mayor had hoped she would be attending.