The Great Big Department of the Bleeding Obvious Bike Blog Roundup

In news that will come as no surprise to regular readers of this roundup, the final report on England's Cycle Demonstration Towns finds that sustained and concentrated investment in cycling does indeed pay off in increased cycling, even though the disbanding of Cycling England meant that most of the lessons learned were written off in favour of a 'light touch' approach. And if further evidence is needed Strava's data shows the massive increase in cycling on London's superhighways (even among the Strava set) while the Irish census data has found increased cycling around Dublin's Canals Cycle Route. It's not only the case that 'build it and they will come', either - the latest research shows that build it and they will start liking bikes, as it's behaviour change that changes attitudes, not the other way round. And while the disruption caused by building cycling routes may harm retailers, here's another roundup of the evidence that once they are in place, they benefit local businesses too - maybe accessibility by cyclists and pedestrians could be the reason why one supermarket closes while another one thrives even in a car dominated city.

Those targets in full

The flip side, of course, is that if you don't build it, they won't come - which may be why the Irish government's target of 10% of journeys by bike is so far off that it's beyond the reach of a countdown timer - why Portland is backpedalling on its commute modeshare target, reducing it from 25% to 15%. This might prove unambitious, however, with figures showing that 41% of journeys in London could be done by bike, if the infrastructure was there.

Problematising cycling

Meanwhile, most decisions about cycling (at least in the UK) only make sense if you consider cycling to be a problem rather than a solution, with even local cyclists apparently opposing plans to turn a cinder track into a 'cyclists's motorway', while a much-needed path along the A331 is branded as 'controversial' because it's taken so long to be built. Meanwhile, it's taken a lot of campaigning to allow cycling once more on a path in Bushey Park while the way we design our pedestrian zones means we sometimes end up with the daft situation that cars are allowed at times while bikes are banned. It seems pretty sad that children should be threatened from exclusion from school for the time-honoured rite of passage of popping wheelies - while in America, bikes are to be squeezed right next to a motorway rather than on the other side of a sound barrier because of residents' fears of 'unwanted strangers' however irrational that might be.

Parking trumps everything

Of course, sometimes the real reasons behind anti-cycling decisions aren't too hard to find: oh the irony of a local authority squeezing out space for walking and cycling in order to make more parking spaces at the local leisure centre, while Limerick hides behind safety fears when really it was loss of parking that scuppered plans for a bike lane and Atlanta quietly erases a bike lane to replace it with parking spaces. Even in Cambridge a cycleway is under threat because a developer wants more retail space while Washington State Ferries has decided that bike trailers should be treated like other vehicle trailers and is charging more for them

Not all bad news

But it wasn't all bad news and bad decisions this week. In Enfield the A105 cycle route is taking shape, bringing rainwater gardens and new kinds of cyclists, while Phase 1 of the Chisholm Trail gets planning permission after only 20 years of campaigning. And Phase 1 of HS2 still has plans for a 600 mile bike network to run alongside it.

Cities for people

As a Dutch academic points out, all cities were once cycling cities - it is a political decision to make them car dominated, which may be why blogs which start out purely as bike blogs often end up becoming more about the wider urban realm. In Belfast, plans to scrap a zebra crossing have nothing to do with building a bike route and everything to do with car domination but even in real cycling cities like Bremen, scratch beneath the surface a bit and you'll find some of the same paradigms appear. In New York, funding cuts and bureaucratic obstacles are bringing a century-old tradition of play streets to a close - even as Winnipeg experiments with a woonerf to tame a residential street - while anti-terrorism barriers to protect pedestrian plazas are impeding the flow of cyclists too. In Cleveland, plans for an 'opportunity corridor' turn out to be all about speeding up car journeys for suburbanites, not connecting poorer neighbourhoods - but if you choose your home carefully it's possible to cycle to work perfectly happily even in a car-dominated city like Houston.

Getting consultation right

Perhaps we'd get better decisions if we did better consultations - Strong Towns considers how to properly engage the whole community in planning decisions (and if the whole planning thing baffles you, here's a handy guide) while in Seattle, visually impaired groups have been working with the highways administration to help design more accessible streets, including models for plans that can be explored by touch. Or if that all seems to difficult, you could just try and hold meetings in secret or at short notice or provide no explanation at all for why cycle tracks have to be closed for a U2 concert in Dublin even as the city council claims sustainable transport is 'vital'. Just not as vital as coach parking.

And while we're on the subject of consultations - those for Lambeth and Waterloo bridges close on the 20th August so get your skates on if you want to respond while Get Sutton Cycling only had three weeks to respond to plans for a cycle path alongside Beddington Lane. Irish Cycle has responded on the Greenways strategy while over in the US, Portland is consulting on the Multnomah Bikeway and Philadelphia on a six-month trial replacing a paint-only lane with a protected one.

Good design

Key to responding effectively to these consultations is understanding what good practice looks like - Strong Towns considers what makes protected bike lanes more effective (clue: it's not sending them down back alleys) - how about 15.8 kilometres of almost uninterrupted cycling where you barely need to put a foot down? Hackney's Quietway 2 has its moments but also a number of baffling crossings while a well-designed crossing of the A232 could open up a lot of routes for cycling in Sutton. Perhaps this Streetfilm of Chicago's protected junction might help future designers - or a glance at an aerial view of ASLs in Melbourne which graphically demonstrates how useless they really are. Nor does good design for cycling necessarily stop at the door of the building - if only so you can charge your e-bike - while the Dutch are once more diverting cyclists through buildings if there's no better option on the streets.


Meanwhile, campaigning efforts continue, with Camden Cyclist finding lessons to be learned from Enfields Better Streets campaign while Bikemore in Baltimore has found a year of patient coalition building pays off as the city moves towards complete streets. On the other hand, Wisconsin Bike Federation look back at the life of one pioneering campaigner who was confrontational but effective - sometimes you need to be a bit unreasonable if everyone else is being unreasonable too. Either way it can take years and years to correct omissions like a lack of cycling and walking provision on Auckland's Harbour Bridge

Funding cycling?

But how is cycling infrastructure to be funded? Well, not out of the settlement VW have paid Washington for dieselgate, unfortunately, although it would seem like the best mitigation measure available. Nor will it be from Colorado's mooted bike tax after the idea lasts barely a week before being quietly dropped. And not, apparently out of the Edinburgh Region City Deal because that's all going on a giant roundabout instead.

Drivers don't make close passes at police officers unless they need glasses

As the close pass initiative reaches London the Guardian bike blog joins the undercover team as they try it out, and the first driver officially pulled over proves to have no insurance, MOT or tax - while is delighted to discover that the Met Police are staying awesome. Meanwhile in Northern Ireland, officers will be joining club runs as part of their operation - even as another veteran club cyclist is killed in Buckinghamshire (although possibly going out at 91 while taking part in a time trial might not be the worst way to go, all things considered). While some US police forces value their bike patrol units, NYPD still seem more intent on blaming the victim than getting justice for families.

Health and safety

As LA continues to struggle to make its streets safer for people, researchers are considering what makes Florida's streets so deadly for cycling. In Ireland, the authorities seem determined to press ahead with an experimental bus stop design without any real safety analysis of its design. In New York, a deadly road could make space for cycling if the lanes for cars were narrowed somewhat. And as New South Wales's cycling safety action plan has pretty much failed on every measure, in Honolulu they want to make it illegal to look at your phone while you cross the road - but not when you're driving.

It's good to share

But let us cheer up because, as we reported last week, bike share is coming soon to a city near you, be it Oxford or Bhopal. Seattle, having scrapped one scheme already now has two going head to head - it's just a shame they're concentrated in some of the more dangerous streets rather than where there are segregated bike routes. Hyattsvill is planning to blend two bikeshare schemes together while Sacramento has a hybrid docking and dockless scheme which sadly doesn't integrate that well with public transport. Meanwhile Portland's and Vancouver's schemes turn one year old - and Portland now offers adaptive bikes too while Chicago is learning what it takes to get bikeshare used among poorer communities, with a lot of outreach.

Summer holidays

There were the usual crop of 'what I did on my holidays' posts, whether it's a family day out to the beach, Dutch style, or a more detailed look at cycling in Utrecht including its Fietsflow traffic light timing system. Meanwhile in Milan the Way of the Monks is the perfect relaxed way to get in some city sightseeing, joining up historical and religious sites.

Cycling for everyone

Cycling can seem very white and middle class - but it doesn't have to be. Key to that can be riding with friends and relatives or just being made to feel part of the cycling community. On the other hand, one of the overlooked arguments against bicycle licensing (if we needed any more) is that it woudl be a huge barrier for poorer communities, the ones who need bikes the most.

And finally

Proving that there's nothing new under the sun, Pricetags uncovers some early kickstarter bicycle designs that frankly don't look any more daft than today's mad ideas. I'd much rather have a bicycle yacht, than augmented cycling reality, any day of the week.