The Great Big Me, You and Froomey Too Bike Blog Roundup

I'm sure a lot of cyclists secretly like to think they've got a lot in common with the pros - but it turns out what joins the rest of us to people like Chris Froome is encountering a road-raging driver, followed up by some unsolicited advice on how to ride a bike on Twitter. The two are not unrelated as online abuse can easily tip over into harassment on the road as one Australian hater demonstrated all too well - although that didn't stop BBC Sussex from apparently trying to whip up a little 'controversy' over a similar ramming incident. All this goes to show that we need more visible policing on our roads (and even our courts will sometimes hand out a prison sentence if the abuse is egregious enough) - but more importantly that we need proper physical separation from the cars and their road-raging drivers. And lest we think this is confined to the UK, even in the Netherlands poor infrastructure leads to poor driving while in Houston the local equivalent of the Near Miss study is recording near misses and harassment of pedestrians as well as drivers

A joined up city

It was also Seville week this week with an Embassy delegation to the city where you can at least be confident that if a route is green on the map that it will feel safe to cycle on, unlike routes in the UK - the only problem being that from a blogging point of view there's not much to say as cycling becomes so unremarkable. Less well known, but sounding equally attractive, is Ljubljana, a city which takes positive pride in its human-centric streets. So which cities and towns are likely to follow suit? Glasgow is consulting over improvements to its city centre that would reallocate space away from motor traffic, while Dumfries is at least considering that active travel should be part of its 'Learning Town' agenda. Bicycle Dutch has a look at what Canberra is doing to encourage cycling - while the Dutch Cycling Embassy sees a lot of potential for cycling in the Los Angeles area - if only because the roads are so congested, something that might drive car owners out of their cars in Portland too. Meanwhile, as Seattle sets the ambition of becoming America's most walkable city, Streets Blog looks back at the early days of New York's transformation and one of the people behind it, while People for Bikes meets the bike co-ordinator hoping to transform Fort Collins into a cycle friendly city.

Priorities please

Transformations like Seville's require political will - but often that will is in short supply. In Edinburgh, even though cars are down and bikes up for yet another year, places like Lothian Road are still crying out for decent bike provision and even Copenhagen gives disproportionate space to the private car when you consider how few of the city's residents drive to work. In Dublin, it seems they prefer to build an expensive board walk for bikes on the Liffey route rather than just diverting the cars off the quays altogether. Minneapolis might have policies that favour walking and cycling but in the end parking trumps everything even if it doesn't appear to be that important to the businesses concerned - although elsewhere cities are using parking fees to fund traffic-free periods on a shopping street. Meanwhile in London, Lambeth is consulting on removing a filter introduced to reduce rat running while Haringey is consulting over reinstating some filtering on Wightman Road that briefly transformed the area last year - but at least there's one road in London that won't be re-opening to traffic any time soon. In Seattle, for all its ambitions, a decade of campaigning still has seen no improvement to the overly narrow paths on a dangerous bridge - while the improvements to Melbourne's Swan Street Bridge provision come at the cost of 'detouring' cyclists into traffic while the works take place.

Getting it right?

Occasionally we can get things right - with not just one but two recent underpasses that don't look like the setting for the opening of a crime novel, while Ranty Highwayman goes to great lengths to make sure that cycling provision doesn't get in the way of the fire service (actually it's parked cars that do that). The sad truth is, though, that our forgotten cycleways remain some of our best quality infrastructure with some so wide the Google car mistook them for a road - perhaps the Dutch Cycling Embassy Think Bike workshops will start to trickle down into better designs for now. Elsewhere, despite fears, Chicago's new contraflow greenway looks likely to make things safer for cyclists, while in Dublin there will be a cycle path through a busy pedestrian area, albeit rather a subtle one - perhaps if it doesn't work, Dublin cyclists can use their high-tech bells to report it to the authorities. And it's mixing clueless drivers with lethal looking 'mixing zones' that causes problems for bikes in Philadelphia - not just 'drivers from New Jersey'.

More evidence, should evidence be needed

As yet another study finds that the physical separation of bikes from traffic is crucial to reducing injury rates - indeed cycle tracks are 89% safer than roads with parking and no cycling infrastructure at all. So it's hardly surprising that the businesses in Seattle with the highest cycle communting rates are all close to safe bike routes - and possibly Adobe's high cycling rate may reflect its downtown location as much as its bike-friendly policies - something to ponder instead of (or as well as) free bike schemes and other incentives. In Portland, the temporary Naito Bikeway is already attracting more and more diverse riders, so hopefully this Georgia pilot will be successful beyond its initial two weeks. It's all a much more effective approach to safety than blaming people for being hit by cars.

Bikes for all

One disregarded consequence of our lack of a joined-up network is that we prevent people from using cycling as a mobility aid - this minimal 'bike refuge' in Melbourne being a case in point. Still, at least in Portland and soon Detroit, disabilities needn't be an impediment to using bike share - while for some, a little thing like being paralysed from the chest down needn't stop you in your record-beating attempts.

Campaign news

With the local elections over, the general election rumbles on, with cycling organisations penning a joint letter to the Times asking all parties to encourage walking and cyling in their manifestos, while Stop Killing Cyclists takes a rather more direct approach by picketing pary head quarters. Space for Cycling Gosworth have been emailing their candidates on their positions - while a year after the elections in London the jury is still out on the mayor Sadiq Khan and in Sydney, campaigners have been getting MPs on bikes to see the challenges of the city's network for themselves.

With Sarah Storey joining Chris Boardman as a policy advocate for British Cycling, she will bring additional diversity to the campaigning world, while Kats Dekker discovers her cross border perspective may make for more effective campaigning. Hwoever, as they're learning in the US, campaigners leave the work of addressing diversity solely to minorities and make sure that everyone calls out trolling and bullying even from within our own community

Sometimes, campaigning gets too close for comfort - as Broken Spoke in Oxford are devastated by the loss of a friend and took to the streets to call for safer conditions for everyone. Meanwhile, in San Francisco, campaigners underline our vulnerability with a human-protected bike lane.

Bike make it better?

As always the real puzzle is why we have to actually campaign for this stuff, with a good round up of why bike lanes make life better for everyone even if you don't ride bikes - plus it turns out that better design even of arterial roads has an impact on the streets around them, and some of those traffic calming measures can double as flood protection in areas prone to flash flooding. Nor should we stop at the doors of the shopping centre if we really want to be ambitious - just nobody tell Dublin's Lord Mayor. In the interest of balance, however, we should flag up that not every retailer in Waltham Forest is feeling the Mini Holland love while bike share does appear to have a measurable impact on numbers using the bus (well, which would you choose?) And finally, there's the argument that making places too walkable and people-centred just ends up pricing the poor out.

Law changes

Meanwhile, legal changes rumble along - with Missouri making progress towards banning texting while driving, but in Australia, Victoria's passsing distance law is scuppered by the state government just as the federal government announces billions for infrastructure, none of it for cycling. In Oregon, a planned bicycle exise tax would be used to fund infrastructure, although you can bet that drivers won't suddenly stop shouting 'you don't pay road tax' at cyclists as they pass. And there was mixed news in California, with progress towards allowing pedestrians to cross the road if they've got time to do so - but no Idaho stop for bikes.

And finally...

... because we all know that the Dutch only cycle because it is flat, Faster Pedestrian considers which is worse, a hill or a headwind while Chasing Mailboxes discovers that tackling a daily hill on the way to work can actually be a source of joy. And not just because it's downhill on the way home ...