The Great Big No More Pussyfooting About Bike Blog Roundup

As Ranty Highwayman pointed out this week, tiptoeing around 'encouraging' cycling has got us nowhere for years so it's time to take bold action and rebalance our streets. And when it comes to bold changes, nowhere comes bolder than Seville, which offers an eye-opener as to what can be done in a short space of time - and has provided evidence that it's the connectivity of the network that creates safety, even as the amount of cycling infrastructure increeases numbers. Meanwhile in Copenhagen, numbers of cycle commuters continue to climb to the point where cycle congestion is becoming a problem. As Modacity looks back at how Groningen made its bold transformation by cutting connectivity for cars through the city centre, the annual hunt is on for Germany's best cycling city. And if all this seems like it might be a bit too expensive, some measures don't have to be that pricey and can make a real difference.

Building networks

Meanwhile, some places are building up their networks, even if not with the same urgency as Seville, although Singapore is starting work on a grid. In Enfield work is progressing on Green Lanes although it's all still a bit fragmented and there are a few snags - and at least the Thames Tideway works won't end up dumping cyclists off the superhighways back onto the roads. In Portland a downtown bike network is emerging despite opposition from business associations, and there are a few 'game changing' plans in Minnesota while Chicago's growing network is mostly paint on the road.

Not everywhere is making progress although not for lack of trying among campaigners. In Newcastle, in line with its AGM plans, NewCycling looks at what a cycle network for Newcastle would entail, while in Hamilton, PacMan imagery highlights the safe route and dangerous gaps in the city's network. Birmingham needs to do more to build cycling into its transport strategy while Sutton has missed all sorts of opportunities for cycling despite plenty of warm words a few years ago. Seattle's latest bike lane stops three blocks short of connecting with the rest of the infrastructure while Baltimore backtracks on a protected bike lane and instead proposes a two-way lane right in the door zone on the road.

Responses to tragedy

If all this feels a bit nit-picking, there were reminders this week that poor design can have fatal consequences with a young medical student killed on her bike on the tram tracks in Edinburgh, leaving Darkerside in no doubt where the blame lies. Although the minister plans to meet campaigners over what can be done, a protest and vigil will be taking place on Wednesday to call for urgent changes while Spokes fills in some background details. In Ireland, a spate of fatalities have lent force to calls for a safe passing law, while tragedy in Oxford has led the local paper to go down the helmet route - perhaps marginalising cyclists even more than they are already. In Toronto, 200 people ride in memory of Xavier Morgan a five-year-old who died when he fell from a cycle track into the busy highway alongside. Sadly in LA, a council member pulls the plug on a planned bike lane - even two deaths in his district aren't enough for him to countenance delays to drivers - which is surely shortsighted given the soaring costs to the economy of bike crashes in America. Meanwhile, Mike Hall takes his final ride home after being killed on his bike racing across Australia.

Cycling = freedom for everyone?

The costs of not investing in cycling aren't just counted in lives lost, though. As Bicycle Dutch points out, proper cycling infrastructure also brings children great freedom - while in Denmark, Skanderborg celebrates the 'unusual' kids who get to school by themselves. Elsewhere, children are less lucky: in Toronto kids are campaigning themselves for safer routes for school, while in Philadelphia, the Bicycle Coalition is building bridges with the YMCA to build support that would provide safe access for holiday programmes.

Meanwhile, it's no surprise in our current road conditions that those who cycle for transport are those who can cope with more hostile roads - but poor cycling conditions are no excuse for being a jerk - especially a sexist one - and yes, it is a gender issue although to be fair men can be dicks to each other too - and at least these days women can celebrate their bicycle faces rather than be warned about them. To understand and combat these and other less-obvious barriers, such as bike theft, we need real diversity in our campaigning voices - something that the Women and Cycling Conference definitely delivered but where others can fall down. However some have been reclaiming some of Chicago's hidden history by bike, while as bike share schemes across America work to improve access an equity, in Philadelphia and Indianapolis, bike share is helping to connect communities to their cities' parks (in Denver its difficult even to walk to them).

Election matters

As the endless elections rumble ever on, Cambridge Cyclist seeks the highlights for cycling in the election manifestos while Spokes rounds up what's relevant for Edinburgh, Lancaster Dynamo gets one-and-a-half responses from their candidates and Chris Boardman detects some glimmers of progress. At the local level, the new Edinburgh administration means the council's budget commitments to cycling are safe, while Pushbikes prepares to hold the new West Midlands mayor to his election promises. In Ireland, the government is spending just 2% of its transport budget for cycling while Fianna Fail politicians are still looking to helmets to answer questions of cycle safety. And at least one of the candidates for Nevada governor will know all about cycling as he embarks upon a cycling listening tour through the state - although as he's doing about 100 miles a day, his potential voters may struggle to catch him.

Distracted driving? There's an app for that

UK police may have caught 6,000 drivers using a mobile at the wheel since fines were doubled - but could they be catching many more if this app for dobbing drivers in goes international (never mind the $5 bounty - most cyclists would probably report them for free)? Either way that probably wasn't the sort of app the Seattle Times had in mind as it prefers to join the Denver police in blaming pedestrians for getting run over. And don't expect autonomous cars to do any better - Tesla autopilot mode is effectively one big Smidsy, although with some machine learning, computers could learn to detect potential areas of conflict before collisions happen. And of course, the beauty of the bike commute is that you're totally unplugged, at least unless you're a Dutch teenager, texting as you ride no-handed down the cycle track ...

Police matters

As west-country police join forces to crack down on close passes, they will be making use of off-duty officers' helmet cam footage. Other forces are still awaiting the memo - forcing cyclists to apologise for getting angry at almost being run off the road - or needing Chris Boardman to intervene before they'll take issues seriously, although at least it's not the police themselves doing the close passing.

Making space for cycling

As the Planning Lady takes a closer look at what happens when a hostile road is turned into a complete street, in LA cyclists are flocking to use new infrastructure before it's completely finished - always a good sign - while projections for plans in St Paul suggest they will make Sneling much safer for cyclists. In Camden, plans are unveiled for a London 'highline' linking King's Cross with Camden Town - but sticking cyclists up in the air can be a bit of a mixed bag: it could be something great like Chicago's Bloomingdale Trail or it could be as bonkers as this plan to suspend cyclists between two carriageways of an elevated motorway in Melbourne. Back on the ground, Ireland's offering very little clear space for cycling in its plans for the N11, while it doesn't help if what tracks you have are being slowly reclaimed by the vegetation. And given a free hand and all the cones to play with on the streets of Houston I'm not sure UK cyclists would have necessarily built a DIY roundabout but it does at least show that even a bit of tape on the road can be enough to slow drivers momentarily.

Meanwhile in Toronto, policies to create pedestrian friendly spaces are inadvertently making it harder to build bike lanes, while squeezing pedestrians and cyclists together on shared use paths just brings conflict all round. And in what will likely become a live issue in London too, barriers to protect pedestrians from terrorists are forcing cyclists out into the possibly equally deadly traffic of New York.

We won't always have Paris ...

With Trump pulling out of the Paris accord, mayors and governors like De Blasio and Cuomo are going to have to step up their active travel policies if they are going to make good the difference. Meanwhile, the only response cyclists can make is to go shopping (by bike of course) or just go for a bike ride.


Meanwhile as the US steps back into a fossil-fuelled past, bikes would seem to be part of the future, with Oslo joining other European cities in experimenting with last-mile delivery by cargo bike and the long-anticipated Copenhagen wheel making the journey from crowdfundware to reality even if it's perhaps not 100% perfect yet. If you can't get your hands on one yourself, the Green Commute Initiative is looking to spread conventional e-bikes more widely to commuters - perhaps the next step will be among removals companies. Not that bikes are just about the future - it's the cities in the US that preserved their historic centres that have also retained their walk- and bike-friendliness as well.

And finally ...

The next time a taxi driver shouts something to you about not paying road tax - you can at least point out that cyclists do at least pay their motorway tolls (or at least they try to).