The Great Big After the Voting, Now for Action Bike Blog Roundup


Although overshadowed somewhat by a looming general election, last week saw people going to the polls to vote in a range of local elections across the country, with councillors being asked their position on cycling (and walking) in Scotland (with handy manifesto summaries from Walk Cycle Vote), and in England and Wales.

Magnatom argued that how politicians are minded to act on cycling infrastructure tells us an awful lot about their attitudes in general - not forgetting that transport is already a very important element of what councillors and metropolitan mayors should be dealing with. Simply being in favour of cycling is not enough, and unfortunately while there were solid pledges from the Metro Mayoral winners (and losers) the Conservative candidate (and winner) of the West of England Metro Mayoralty did not support the Vote Bike commitments. Cambridge Cyclist continued his in-depth look at the parties in turn, covering UKIP, the Greens and summarising the responses from all the parties.

It's been a year since since Sadiq Khan was elected Mayor of London - so how much progress is Sadiq Khan making on cycling (and on air quality, and other policies?) Assembly politicians argue the jury is still out - you can tell the Guardian what you think - while in Newcastle warm words from councillors have unfortunately not matched up with action - hopefully the local MP can inspire further progress. Finally, are 'Cycling Mayors' a good way to make progress? Street Films caught up with Amsterdam's own Bike Mayor.

Technological fixes

Elon Musk is never far away from the headlines, and this week he was being boring at TED talks boring -  (and in his own words - ) is unfortunately a very old and a very bad way of tackling urban transport problems, and an expensive one at that, which doesn't actually solve those problems at all. The Centre for London will hopefully receive some more sensible answers to surface transport problems, while Healthy Towns may offer some promise.

More generally, will rapidly advancing technology give bicycles the edge over cars? It's a hopeful thought, but in the meantime a new study suggests raising the cost of fuel is a way to encourage (and fund) a shift to active travel; however, in California technological advances have a downside, in that raising fuel tax is not a sustainable long-term option, due to the rising use of alternatively-powered vehicles.


This was the week in which the government released - was forced to release - its air quality plan. Bold action is certainly required, but unfortunately it was rapidly criticised for being toothless and weak, with the buck being passed to local authorities. We now know that there is a clear link between particulates and heart disease, but the government is dragging its feet on taking action, and the fact that the strategy has been welcomed by the car industry is particularly telling. In any event it seems the government could soon be back in the courts again, as ClientEarth suggest they could prosecute the plans for being too weak.

On holiday

The start of May is a traditional time for holidays, and the Netherlands is no exception, with a series of national holidays, marked by BicycleDutch - and there's probably no better holiday destination for the sun-seeking cycling infrastructure enthusiast than Seville. The outdoor recreation market is untapped and potentially enormous, even without counting the health benefits - cycling to bothies certainly looks like one way of having a good time in the great outdoors.

Road danger

In New York (and presumably in many other cities across the world) all too often 'order' is prioritised over actual safety. This is a big problem in cities where, although the overall number of deaths might be falling, the proportion of pedestrian deaths remains stubbornly high, and in Minnesota road 'improvement' schemes are running alongside a dreadful road safety decline. Milwaukee advocates are taking matters into their own hands, compiling their own reports to drive the safety agenda. This week also saw the release of a paper showing that cycle helmet laws do not reduce head injury rates.

Back in the UK, this week saw the release of the All Party Parliamentary Cycling Group's report into Cycling and the justice system, which found that the police and courts are failing cyclists (and other road users) and has been welcomed by Cycling UK, and even (in the wake of the report's recommendations being widely misunderstood) provoking a fierce defence from an LBC presenter. Spokes are hosting a meeting on how the police and authorities can tackle road danger, while out on the roads, West Yorkshire Police are just the latest force to adopt a close pass operation. Unfortunately, while South Yorkshire Police are being pushed for a close pass operation, Northumbria Police's equivalent operation only ran for just... three weeks.


The latest viral video of conflict on the roads really shows us that the UK has an incoherent transport policy, at least as far as cycling is concerned - we don't like cyclists getting their own space, but simultaneously we don't like cyclists being on the road. Cycling infrastructure is an easy target to blame for all our problems - but at least we haven't (yet) got Jewish conspiracy theories about cycling infrastructure.

Activists in San Francisco are literally putting their bodies on the line to create cycling infrastructure, although even with a mass of bollards people are still driving on cycling infrastructure in Portland. This in itself is a very good illustration of why cycling infrastructure has to be permanent and durable - if it makes sense in peak times, then it makes sense at all other times of the day. Cycling in bus lanes is bad enough even without adding taxis - fortunately the trial in Belfast has come to an end.

At a local level, bollards are a very cheap and simple way of creating safe and attractive streets for cycling - and a filtering scheme in north London deserves support. Cycling has to be designed properly into major schemes, and it's certainly not appropriate to mix it with walking on narrow shared footways.  Proper bike lanes really are the only answer, and while the Dutch usually get these kinds of things right, that doesn't mean they won't make mistakes, as AlternativeDfT's latest post about Groningen shows. At least when it comes to problems of posture 'Going Dutch' can still be relied upon.

Bike Sharing needs caring

To no-one's great surprise, bike share success depends on the quality of cycling infrastructure, and that includes pairing it up with open street car-free events - although as 'station less' bikes start to appear in cities like Seattle and here in Bristol in the UK, it's worth bearing in mind that the bike share schemes themselves have to be regulated if chaos is to be averted,  Meanwhile in Portland the city is looking at how heavily cycle parking is used with a view to further improvements.

And finally... 

Looking behind the stereotypes, cycling is just a mode of transport, offering everyone an affordable way to get from one place to another, including kids - a bike to school day shows the huge untapped potential of cycling for children. But all that potential will go to waste if your routes aren't good enough. If you're having to spend tens of thousands of pounds in an attempt to show people that some cycle routes exist, it's a good bet they' won't be very useful or convenient.