The Great Big Insert Loved One Here Bike Blog Roundup

Well, what's the point of slaving over these weekly roundups if we don't occasionally hijack them to remind people of our own agenda such as our new Insert Loved One Here campaign tool launched on Friday in order to shine a light on poor conditions? It's mostly been used on Twitter so far but it's also made it onto Cycling Dumfries - and perhaps we might eventually get a Dutch example as the tool's creator finds elements of Groningen's cycling network leave much to be desired.

Taking a tragedy ...

Insert Loved one Here is intended to highlight dangerous conditions without risking an actual loved one - but sometimes when tragedy strikes it can highlight the need for safer streets - but it can also generate a backlash that is extra unpleasant because of the victim blaming going on - even if most of the objections are coming from people who live elsewhere and just drive through the streets unhindered. In London, TfL have finally announced plans to make some of London's most dangerous junctions safer, while the devastation wrought by Hurricane Sandy has also created an opportunity to bring cycling infrastructure to the Atlantic coast. And tragedy can also inspire art, as a play based on Eilidh Cairns seeks funding to be staged in London

How much better, though, not to wait for tragedy to strike as New York plans parking protected bike lanes on a wide street that has already seen some serious injuries while the Silicon Valley Bike Coalition looks at progress building support for protected cycling lanes on El Camino Real - and Palo Alto approves a $6.9m 'bike boulevard' network. In Washington, plans for cycling projects are progressing faster than a bike blogger can keep up


Change can take a reimagining of how we use our towns and cities - and that's what 'Streetopia' is setting out to do, such as radically curbing free parking in New York City. Perhaps this timelapse of a docking station and a couple of parking spots will help show how it's not cars that necessarily bring prosperity to town centres - something for the Scottish government to consider as it consults over banning pavement parking. To make progress, social movements may mean some strange bedfellows - and to build new alliances means respecting others' points of view and broadening our own perspective - reaching out to different communities and celebrating forgotten histories as well as embracing parades and community festivals as just as big a part of imagining our cities differently as 'open streets' events or Olympic bid promotions. A programme to promote health can also make sure all communities benefit from Vision Zero projects - especially as it's the poorer neighbourhoods that are often the least well served by decent cycling infrastructure. Sometimes the disputes about language conceal the bigger picture that drives the cultural 'norm' - although events like cargo bike races can not just channel different norms, but reflect a growing cycling culture in a city.

Campaigning issues

Meanwhile, cycle campaigners continue using every tool they have - from human-protected bike lanes (now spreading from San Francisco to Dublin) to the courts as Baltimore backs down over removing a protected bike lane (although Seattle may be next in the dock over gaps in a key bike trail). Bikefast considers whether cycling will benefit from the DUP's infrastructure windfall. In Northumberland it turns out getting rid of the dreaded 'cyclist dismount' signs is a simple matter of complaining about them. Meanwhile Go Bike's inaugural campaign workshop will help set the direction for campaigning in Glasgow while in Edinburgh Spokes have been in action in both the council and Scottish Parliament while Cycling UK welcomes the Welsh Government's plan to allow cycling on footpaths. Richmond LCC need help to ensure cycling gets considered in plans for Twickenham Riverside, while Bristol Cycling Campaign will be keeping an eye on the Bromley Heath Viaduct widening to make sure cyclists' needs are accommodated in and during the works and Cambridge Cycle Campaign needs help to make sure plans for Milton Road don't get squeezed.

Further afield, European ministers debated the EU cycling strategy and Peter Sagan becomes an unlikely ambassador for cycling cities (although we might once have said the same of Chris Boardman). Bike Ottawa wants local cyclists to commit one act of advocacy this month while the Bike Coalition of Philadelphia tracks the painstaking process of building support for a cycle trail and in Boston cyclists need to chip in as the city decides between a parking protected bike lane or a 'mixing zone' bringing right-turning cars into conflict with bikes. And for a truly global affair, CycleHack is gearing up to run across the world again in September.

Do it right or go home ...

As campaigners in most places around the world battle hard to inch forward with their local authorities, it's almost painful to see what can be done in a place that puts walking and cycling first, like Utrecht; no wonder cycling is outstripping driving for shorter journeys across much of the Netheralnds. Wellington also considers a scenario that puts walking and cycling first, but it's just one of 12 options for getting the city moving. London includes cargobikes as one sustainable delivery option in its transport strategy, while Denmark's capital region continues to invest in cycle superhighways to tackle the longer journeys - something Tokyo could also consider if it wants to grow cycling beyond short local hops. As Ranty Highwayman considers Stevenage's unfinished network and why they built it and they didn't come, Copenhagenize points out it will take a bit more than a few half-hearted bike lanes to restore Egypt's mass-cycling past. Timid design decisions mean Portland's latest buffered bike lanes aren't as comfortable to cycle on as they might be while getting the side road crossings right will be key to making cycle tracks with priority work well in the UK - and there's little point having standards to protect cyclists and pedestrians during construction projects if they're not actually enforced. On the other hand, sometimes imperfect or temporary infrastructure can have a powerful effect - like a pop-up 8-mile bike network in Georgia that increased cycling 800% despite only being paint on the road - or Vancouver's 9 km 'demonstration' rail path that is still a bit unfinished but already well used

Cycling for everyone

One reason why infrastructure design has to get it right is to make sure it's catering to everyone, which is why it's good that Highways England and the Cycling and Walking Investment Strategy acknowledge the needs of disabled cyclist - and that a cycle can be a mobility aid for some but only if the conditions are right. Whether it's comfy saddles or comfy infrastructure, your cycling perspective changes when you become a cycling parent and a study is investigating if so too do your routes - it would definitely help if cycle trails didn't have bridges so narrow that touring parents have to unhitch their toddlers' trailer to get across. Perhaps once we start designing for this sort of bike bus we'll start to see real change. At the other end of the age range Cycling without Age gives nursing home residents 'the right to feel the wind in their hair' again, while Bristol Cycling Campaign are pushing back on street harassment, a less commonly considered barrier to cycling especially for young women.

Bike share news

2017 is definitely shaping up to be the year of the dockless bikeshare as Mobike launches in Manchester and Seattle could be set to get bikeshare back within weeks. As Better Bikeshare considers the barriers to using bikeshare among minorities, Belfast's bikes will be gathering safety data hopefully to tackle the biggest barrier of all.

Safety issues

There seem to have been a few opportunities to make cycling safer missed this week - from not including cyclist awareness in the new practical driving test to tinkering around the edges of Victoria's cyclings laws - although it should at least soon be illegal to honk at cyclists as you overtake them in Delaware. Research into the mentality of drivers around cyclists find they feel pressure not to hold up other drivers. Even on the cycle paths, safety can be an issue with Lancaster building gravel access paths to a cycle route to prevent speeding cyclists and speeding buses causing problems on Cambridge's guided busway although at least the Blackfriars bridge barriers have been widened to make more space for cyclist. Sheffield is to start feasibility studies to improve cycle safety at five tram/bike blackspots, while the North East is to get a regional safe overtaking campaign. And it's all very well describing cyclists' visibility as being a matter of personal responsibility - but it's also the responsibility of the authorities to make sure cyclists and pedestrians are visible, whatever they are wearing

Bike make it better

It might seem that Peter Walker's book has completely covered all the arguments for promoting cycling - but it doesn't mention that the bike can be the most relaxing way to get to the airport, or that it can give you a front row seat when royalty drop in.

Crossing continents

Finally, there is the usual crop of bike blog visits to better places, mostly the Netherlands, where happiness and freedom are the standout lessons for the country's dedication to cycling, both of which are on display during a lunch hour in Houten and the Gouda school run. If that has whetted your appetite, Streetfilms have more Dutch cycling short films than you can shake a stick at after the Velo City conference while Just Step Sideways tried out the latest pedestrian and bike bridge in Utrecht. Not that every bike blogger was in the Netherlands - the Berliner Mauerweg proves a great way to sample every flavour of the city's cycling infrastructure (and see the sights) while even suburban Ottawa offers some quirky charms to those on two wheels.