The Great Big 200 Years Young Bike Blog Roundup

Obviously, as a resident of Dumfries and Galloway, your blog rounder-upper still maintains that the pedal bike was invented in Keir Mill by one Kirkpatrick Macmillan in 1839, however some are choosing to to celebrate this year as the 200th birthday of the bicycle - in response to an environmental crisis, naturally - and still the vehicle of the future today. So happy birthday, two-wheeled people-powered transport, whoever invented you.

Shouldn't every day be Clean Air Day?

Also celebrated this week was National Clean Air day with lots of advice for what individuals could do and less clarity on what the people in actual power would be doing to keep our air clean - certainly the government's clean air strategy is woefully indadequate despite it being on its third iteration. It was also bike week, which was kicked off with a survey showing that ordinary families understand what the government doesn't - that what is really needed is traffic-free cycle routes - something people will travel for miles to experience. However, even the Dutch sometimes need reminding that you can't talk behaviour change without considering urban design first.

It's good to share

Another big story this week is the continued growth of dockless bike share systems, possibly driven as much by the data they generate through their associated apps as any urban transport consideration. Be that as it may, Manchester is to get a six-month Mobike Pilot and Dropbikes have appeared in the University of Toronto while turf battles continue in Bath and Dublin's Bleeperbike rollout is delayed after the city threatens to remove them from the streets. One company, Softwheel, explains how technology will make bike share schemes more feasible, while the more traditional Chicago Divvy system is to roll out more docking stations to under-served areas.

Sadly, New York saw its first fatality on a Citibike leading to calls for protected east-west bike routes - initial reports that the cyclist was at fault released by the police, were quickly contradicted by video evidence. Even with this death, the numbers show that using bikeshare is still safer than conventional cycling, rather than riskier as was once feared

Velo city goes Dutch

With what appears to be the entire cycling advocacy & blogging community either living it up in Nijmegen this week for Velo City or showing the visitors around, actual blogs about the event have been thin on the ground so far - but you can get the highlights of day one, day two, day three and day four from the ECF website, while Austrian researchers, planners and consultants joined forces at the event. For Herbert Tiemens, there was much the Dutch could learn from the event as well as all the wonders (and not always so wonderful) of Dutch cycling that the attendees will be bringing home. The traditional cycle parade was fun as ever, if perhaps rather less conspicuous than it would be outside the Netherlands.

That all-powerful bike lobby...

Not that everyone was in the Netherlands this week - there were enough cyclists at Berlin's Sternfahrt mass demonstration to tie up the city's streets for hours, while in Belfast the intention was more to make a serious dent in the city's annual free breakfast. Not that all lobbying takes place on the streets: Sustrans' Chief Executive has three asks for the UK government while Scotland's politicians have some bedtime reading courtesy of Pedal on Parliament's crowdfunder - hopefully this will help Edinburgh's new council to live up to its promise to be the most cycle-friendly yet - perhaps a regular bike audit of progress would be helpful in holding them to it? In Washington, the Bike PAC will work to elect politicians who share their vision - while Streets.Mn is surveying St. Paul's mayoral candidates and Denver residents are urged to contact their representatives over including walking and cycling in transport plans while for residents of Glasgow there's still time to shape the city's "mini-Holland" plans for Woodside. Of course, if your politicians fail, there's always the option of taking out an injunction to stop them ripping out a bike lane - or putting together a plan of your own for protected bike lanes along a key urban artery.

Or not ...

Still, for an all-powerful lobby, there seems to be an awful lot of opposition - with councillors in Birmingham opposing a park route on the grounds that it will encourage anti-social behaviour, councillors in Dublin voting to ban cycling on College Green Plaza even though plans are already in place to build a bike lane there and plans for a bypass in Wales which will sever key walking and cycling routes driving a coach and horses through the Welsh Government's own Active Travel Act. Bikefast continues to keep a wary eye out for any more plans to allow taxis in bike lanes - while in LA the real all-powerful lobby is the film industry which has persuaded the city to make its cycle lanes a more tasteful shade of green even though that will make them less visible

Starting them young

If we are going to have a powerful lobby, it's good to start our campaigners young - not only should cycling children be the touchstone for all urban design, the kids themselves can be powerful advocates for change. Even so, when your child decides she wants to cycle to school independently before the roads have been redesigned with her in mind, it's both amazing and terrifying - and that's before the people in cars start getting out and punching child cyclists.

Not a side issue

As Tamika Butler moves on from the LA Bike Coalition, she can probably be credited with ensuring that issues of equity and race were seen as core to cycle campaigning and not a distraction from the real issues - campaigners for safer streets need to make sure they act as allies to everyone and understand how issues like gentrification and police harassment affect different communities. For instance, although a 'project-focused' approach to vision zero is already saving lives in New York Seattle and Washington, plans for safer streets are more likely to be watered down in poorer neighbourhoods.

Here in the UK, many disabled cyclists find it easier than walking yet have still been asked to get off their bikes despite using them as a mobility aid, while Dublin's lord mayor seems a bit confused over the issue of allowing people with disabilities to use the bike lanes they can already use. In Birmingham the city wins an award for getting bikes to the people who could benefit the most. And as a memorial ride to celebrate Jo Cox reminds us that we have more that unites us than divides us we should also consider the tribulations of those who cycle to the symphony orchestra to get their half-price tickets.

Strategic cities ...

As we're challenged to identify cities just from their bike lanes (clue: if they're scattered brokenly across the landscape it's probably the UK ...) Manchester is told it could catch up with the Dutch - but it would have to put its mind to it, while TfL maps out London's strategic network for the next 25 years. Singapore is no stranger to rapid transformational change so could it be poised to become a great cycling city even as Dublin's failure to deliver on its ambitious plans sees it dropped from Copenhagenize's list of cycle-friendly cities. In the US, Indianapolis's cultural trail offers plenty of lessons for cities wishing to regenerate their centres, while if you can't make it to Copenhagen yourself you can now experience it virtually with a 3D extravaganza.

... or squeezing in cycling?

While some cities make bold plans, others take a more piecemeal approach, whether it's shoe-horning in a bike path alongside a widened freeway in Virginia or three years of back and forth to even consider putting in bike lanes in Santa Monica. In Seattle, another little bit of the network is to get joined up, block by block. In Sheffield, the new university route plans are an improvement but are hardly the 'exemplar' they were supposed to be - while even in Cambridge, cyclists are urged to write in support of improving the Chisholm trail by widening it over Coldham Common

Meanwhile, after 10 years of discussion. Portland may finally get a car-free crossing of the interstate - something that could be very cheaply achieved in Providence by simply removing cars from an existing under-used bridge. While in Seattle a new bike path will slash commuting distances for cyclists - as long as they don't come a cropper on its expansion plates.

Because, parking

Often the reason for painfully slow progress is because of parking which can threaten even tiny bike lane extensions on dangerous junctions - changing the conversation about parking is a universal issue. It seems to be happening in Oslo where, after backlash over its plans to go traffic free, the city is now restricting parking instead, whereas in London, the limited hours of the Congestion Charge are causing the city's streets to be dominated by cars in early evening and at weekends - perhaps it should consider parking for people like this Hackney guerrilla parklet rather than for cars instead?

Tactical urbanism

Hackney isn't the only place enjoying a spot of tactical urbanism with another plunger-protected bike lane going permanent in Providence, and Riga's guerrilla bike lanes garnering compliments for the mayor on their quality - although that didn't stop them from being promptly removed. In Beirut, where guerrillas possibly have less harmless connotations, graffiti and murals are highlighting the city's growing cycling culture - while Denver gets a rather more official pop-up park that the authorities hope can make the case for an urban loop.

Power in numbers

As the Irish census reveals there are 82,000 people relying on their bikes to get to work or school - but we need to be accurate when we use modal share figures such as in Groningen and not conflate commuting numbers with figures overall. As the EU cycling strategy aims for a 50% increase in cycling levels only a cynic would point out that removing the low-cycling UK in a couple of years will do wonders for the averages. And Carlton Reid's latest book, Bike Boom has plenty of lessons, even though it's as much about bike busts as booms.

Understanding risk

As the LCC works with the authorities to mitigate the impact of anti-terrorism barriers on cycling (likely only to get worse with today's latest news from Finsbury Park), Ranty Highwayman points out that our poor understanding of risk means that knee-jerk measures may actually make things worse, as everyday traffic violence continues to kill more people than terrorism. As the Scottish Fatalities Investigation Unit announces an investigation into Edinburgh's tram-track death, identifying and improving the dangerous intersections before people die might be even more effective. In Wellington, the city is trialling radars and leds to alert drivers to cyclists they haven't seen, while in San Francisco, cyclists get bike signals and a two-stage turn to make turning across traffic on Embarcadero safer and easier.

The nut behind the wheel

As a journalist argues that Americans won't swap speed for safety (at least, not the safety of other people), hundreds ride to remember the victims of the Kalamazoo crash, including the four survivors who finally completed the ride they set out to do that day. We may not all have been knocked off, but I think we've all mentally written our own obituaries after a nasty close call (or maybe that's just me?). Motorbikers have their own vulnerabilities but it turns out that owning a proper bike too makes them much safer - except perhaps when passing a Tesla which can door you all on its own. And if the degree of concentration and skill drivers need to keep safe on a twisty rural road is all too much, have they considered just sticking to the motorways for their leisure drives instead?

Legal matters

Meanwhile in legal news we learned where in the United States it's legal to ride an e-bike and whether it's legal to drink and cycle in Toronto - but it took an enormous Twitter fuss for Derbyshire police to work out that even if you don't hit the cyclist it's illegal to drive like a dangerous lunatic on a roundabout.

What would Jesus ride?

Not to neglect the spiritual dimension, Portland will be attempting to break the world record for the number of clergy on bikes (will they all use pastoorfietsen though?) while a new book highlights the parallels between cycling and religion.

And finally

Spotted in the wild in LA, we fully expect this shirt-drying rack and bike safety pole to be appearing on a crowd-funding site near you. Although don't expect your shirt to be very clean if you use it to commute in London - Clean Air Day or no Clean Air Day...