The Great Big Who's to Blame Bike Blog Roundup

Victim blaming seems to be an inescapable part of riding a bike these days but when a lorry strikes a bike sometimes neither cyclist nor driver are fundamentally at fault if the road layout puts them into conflict - but then again it's often easier to blame the victim than to fix the real problem. Too many cyclists' deaths are making these questions a pressing issue in Ireland too. In Chicago, after a similar fuss over cyclists giving each other a bad name, Streetsblog attempts to settle the matter by calling in a moral philosopher (who serves largely to muddy the waters, but that's philosphy for you). After taking one hit too many from friendly fire, another self-styled dabbler in moral philosophy bows out from bike blogging, removing one of the more nuanced voices from the debate, which is a shame. Then again, sometimes no nuance is needed when you discover your own friends on Facebook really hate cyclists - ultimately reinforcing the need for everyone to have their own space rather than turning the roadway into a battle ground for social domination. Either way, the police telling people to 'share the road' won't make much difference, and neither will the New South Wales police tactic of cracking down on cyclists and pedestrians in order to show that they don't normall break the law, apparently.

Learning from London?

With news that the ECF's Cycle Highway Academy is to head to London to learn about designing and building cycle highways, we have to wonder what they hope to learn - other than, in the case of the plans for Nine Elms, what not to do? Perhaps they were fooled by Boris's assertion that the plans for Nine Elms would be better than Amsterdam. With the mayor's strategy for London out, Better Streets for Enfield is happy at the emphasis on cutting traffic on residential streets through street closures, but for Andrew Gilligan it simply doesn't match the sales pitch he gave at the election. TfL and Islington are transforming Archway into a better place but you don't even have to be a cyclist to see that Cycle 'Superhighway' 1 is unimpressive and the quietways are no better with Southwark's Abbey St quietway needing a lot of work to bring it up to scratch while the City of London seems to have spent £600K on a stretch of quietway without even wasting any paint ...

Or elsewhere?

There are other places where lessons can be learned - although details are important: Perth may have built some very Dutch-looking infrastructure for its Active Streets programme but has missed some crucial design elements, while Amsterdam has some lessons for Canada on how to normalise cycling. Vancouver is watching and learning as other cities introduce 20mph limits but so far doing nothing about it itself. San Francisco could consider Berlin's approach to pavement-level cycle lanes while many cities in the world could learn from Utrecht, particularly when it comes to repurposing an urban motorway as a moat. With much futuristic talk of suspended cycle lanes in the sky, Melbourne already has one - but what is it like to cycle on? Portland may have its faults, but it also has some bike wonders compared with many American cities - and lessons for other places about making places for people - just one takeaway from the first Places for Bikes conference.

Consultation Watch

As always there has been a steady stream of consultations to consider - the LCC has gathered the major London ones together but there is also Brent's consultation on Dudden Hill Lane where instead of wasting space on hatchings, proper space for cycling could improve road safety. Trafford's plans for cycling offer some welcome improvements but tend to give up just when the going gets tough, while Glasgow is consulting over 20mph limits in Partick but parking remains the real blockage to providing contraflow cycling options. Further afield, there's a detailed look at Washington's plans for New York Avenue while in Auckland a 'Goldilocks' approach is the best way forward for Lake Road.

It's good also to report on some schemes moving from consultation to reality - with Denver to start work soon on its first kerb-protected bike lane, while the first installment of Dublin's College Green route looks promising, and Ireland's Great Western Greenway will soon no longer dump cyclists out onto a busy road.

Campaigning matters

Streets MN took a step back this week to consider what happens when 'bottom-up' planning approaches lead to bad decisions (at least in our terms!) - could the answer be better community engagement? Certainly it's an issue that might seem familiar to those battling for the road diet on Mar Vista in LA. Looking back over years of campaigning, Kats Dekker finds she's been fighting on four fronts, especially as a female campaigner. In Cardiff, it's time to dig the city's cycling strategy out of the long grass, now that all the elections are over while Newcastle's delivery plan for the city recognises the problems but is timid over the solutions. In Ireland, Dublin's human-protected bike lanes do seem to have moved the battle for actual segregation on a bit but if standing in the road as traffic speeds by seems a bit scary, going to policing meetings is also a great way of making cyclists' concerns heard. And finally, a reminder that the all-powerful bike lobby isn't the only one campaigning the actually all-powerful car lobby is fighting back too.

The air we breathe

You'd think things like clean air might be quite high up the political agenda, but it's taken months and several court cases to drag the government's plans for clean air into the open and to debate in Parliament -whereupon the Lords promptly blame cycling infrastructure for London's pollution; perhaps they should have a look at this before commenting further. Meanwhile, in the European Parliament the Transport Committee proposes amendments to promote bike use as part of the Commission's strategy on lowering emissions - our own government policy acknowledges that cycleways would reduce traffic overall but plans to build more roads all the same.

Actually I do pay cycle lane tax (and other legal matters)

Not that the UK has a monopoly on anti-bike politicians as Oregon taxes the sale of bikes with the proceeds to go towards building bike lanes (but will e-bike riders get a rebate?). Meanwhile the New York Senate kills a speed camera bill that would have allowed cities to enforce speeding around schools and a San Francisco community leader delays progress on safety improvements for Market Street

Data gathering

While we don't have complete faith in the ability of data to convince people asking stupid questions it may help persuad others - and certainly Denmark is leading the way with its cycling reports for the capital region and facts and figures for the city of Copenhagen. A new tool has taken data from Open Street Map to calculate just how much space is given over to moving and storing bikes, cars and trains - while an app for reporting issues as you ride might help flag up the problem areas for cyclists in Newcastle - it's good to see some tech companies making useful tools instead of ending up chasing the wrong solutions for getting people moving. Meanwhile, British Cycling calculate that giving cyclists priority over turning traffic would actually help keep cars moving while Ranty Highwayman examines what's behind the rise in staggered crossings (spoiler alert: it's all about keeping traffic flowing).

Cycling for all

This roundup regularly reports on the need to cater for those who don't fit into the 'fit, fast male' stereotype, and there's nothing like cycling with kids to make you aware of the gaps in your city's infrastructure (or not if you're cycling in Utrecht) - with kids themselves sometimes lobbying for the stafer streets they need. Unusually this week we had posts on catering for the directionally challenged and even the left handed cyclist (although this southpaw can report that it's just as awkward for left handers to wheel their bike on the 'wrong' side).

Road safety

As Spokes's road safety meeting examines a variety of approaches to road danger, in Dublin there are calls for rubber strips along tram lines to prevent the injuries seen along Edinburgh's tracks, along with some other recommendations in a report that seems to have been almost as delayed as Westminster's clean air policy. Meanwhile, the Bike League considers design approaches that would make America's rural roads safer for cycling.

Bike share

With news that London's bike share will be coming to Brixton it would be interesting to see if communities there perceive the same barriers to using them as are found among minority communities in America. Meanwhile, Seattle Bike Blog is counting the days until bike share returns to the city, with the first two dockless hire companies applying for permits.

Sign make it worse

We're great fans of 'sign make it better' approaches in this round up but this week brought us an unusual example of sign make it worse, with a bus stop you can't walk to and a bike rack you can't cycle too. Even worse are the use of stop signs as traffic calming, one piece of madness that the UK hasn't yet imported ...

Bike make it better

But we like to end on a more uplifting note, especially in these troubled times when it's only cycling to work that is keeping most of us sane - even in the Netherlands. In Bristol a bike project is genuinely transforming lives while grassroots cycling initiatives such as Slow Roll may help save Detroit. And as we remember that whatever you might have had to put up with on your bike in recent days it's nothing to what the Afghan women's cycling team had to deal with, at least until they found refuge in France, while a member of Syria's national cycle team who had to sell his bike to flee his country is rebuilding his life through cycling in Berlin.