The Great Big 'Cycling Menace' Bike Blog Roundup

The big - and almost entirely unavoidable - news last week was of course that prosecution, and the inevitable fall-out.

The Road Danger Reduction Forum wrote before the verdict came in about how disproportionately we treat dangerous behaviour on the roads in Britain, and, in its aftermath, about we should sensibly react to dealing with that behaviour, along the lines of Cycling UK's response to the case. The Cycling Silk also produced a thorough, in-depth analysis of the rights and wrongs of the case, including how a driver might have been treated under similar circumstances. There was also thoughtful commentary along similar lines from Roubaix Cycling. Braking distances were a key element of the prosecution, and it seems that a major detail (thinking distance) was omitted in reconstructions.

Predictably, the case produced an enormous amount of media attention about an alleged 'cycling menace' with cyclists apparently 'out of control'. Perhaps the most bizarre event was a confusing, angry interview conducted by Richard Madeley, who failed to let Duncan Dollimore of Cycling UK respond to questions, while talking over him. He's been invited to go out on a bike with Cycling UK, but it doesn't seem very likely he'll take up the offer.

The case certainly presents some disturbing implications for people cycling around in Britain - perhaps because the anger in the wake of the case probably had very little to do with Charlie Alliston and much more to do with dislike of cycling in general. it was left to Peter Walker of the Guardian to at least attempt to redress the balance, pointing out that, despite the media hysteria, the UK really is not being menaced by a horde of reckless cyclists.

Building better infrastructure

In better news, a Wick Road scheme in Hackney that caters properly for inclusive cycling would be transformational - and Hackney Cyclist has taken a very detailed look at how the council's plans could be improved. If your city doesn't protect your bike lanes (or even build them at all) using human chain protection is an effective way of making the point. Failing that, sticking down some toilet plungers will do a good job too!  'Light segregation' - not necessarily plungers - has, in general, a bit of a bad reputation, but for quick and easy improvements to roads and streets there are now more substantial (and attractive) ways of implementing it.

Designing good cycling infrastructure isn't just about physical engineering - the overall network matters, and it's also about reducing speeds, and even about removing car parking to make narrow streets safe and attractive to cycle on. The gold standard is of course the Netherlands, where Ranty Highwayman has seen plenty of things you wouldn't believe.

Painted lanes are easily parked in, so part of the answer is ensuring that they are protected, even if it takes a three year battle to get it delivered. But obviously even good cycling infrastructure can also be continually parking in, so enforcement is also a must - and the same goes for 'shared use' footways in Manchester on match days.

In 'less good news', the Camberwell Green in south London scheme looks very half-hearted, while a proposed walking and cycling bridge between Battersea and Fulham will have stairs and lifts instead of ramps - unless agreement with Network Rail can be reached.

Efficient transport planning

Why should a minority of single-occupancy cars take priority over public transport? Unfortunately this is a pattern across the United States, where 'Departments of Transportation' are still highway-focused organisations, failing to consider walking, cycling and public transport. Rather than simply trying to build our way out of congestion we might do better to recognise that congestion itself comes with many benefits.

Speaking of congestion, congestion pricing might be coming to New York - it's now on the agenda, but will anything actually happen? Certainly not if the mayor of New York City thinks it would be unfair, which is unfortunate, give that congestion charging would actually lead to more equitable transport in the city. Unfortunately elsewhere in the state it looks like a vastly expensive new road may be built, flattening a largely black neighbourhood.

Planning for cycle growth

Could Peterborough in Ontario, Canada, be the country's next big biking city? It certainly has good foundations for further progress. Meanwhile, Chicago is starting to look at the next steps for becoming a genuine cycling city, and is building new cycleways (although unfortunately the city's new library looks to be locking-in car dependence)

What if we'd never built pavements? Perhaps we would be in a situation of eery familiarity to cycle campaigners. Access to Norwich city centre by bike could become a lot easier (and less confusing) if these plans go ahead, and - at a bigger scale - Cycling UK are calling for cycling on footpaths to be the legal norm in Wales.

Glorious Summer (and an eclipse)

Cycling is of course the best way to enjoy the summer weather, and is also a great excuse for eating cake at the same time. BicycleDutch has been on holiday to Vienna, but still managed to file a brief report on the mixed picture for cycling in the city.

Cyclists in Philadelphia were able to enjoy the pre-eclipse treat of a ride and film, while Wyoming, predicted traffic chaos simply didn't materialise - although there were a swathe of traffic jams across other parts of United States in the wake of the eclipse, which even allowed the eclipse to be tracked via congestion data (of course, this congestion might be connected to the vast car parks that materialised at eclipse sites). Chicago may have only had a partial eclipse, but again cycling was a way of making the experience more magical, just as it was in Portland (and quicker than going by car too).


How much does car use actually cost? Cardiff by Bike investigates the cost to the owner, although there are costs to society too, to the extent that cars could actually be the new tobacco. It's perhaps not that surprising that in California, emissions are falling, but emissions from transport are actually rising.

Law and Safety

Ireland might be about to adopt a passing distance law, similar to that in Queensland in Australia. We shouldn't turn all our attention on 'bad cyclists' but instead ensure that our legal system prioritises tackling users who pose the biggest risk to others. The week's most extraordinary story in this regard was the case of the three men hit by a truck driver (and left injured in the road) - only to find themselves charged with walking in the road, and with failing to wear hi-visibility vests.

Healthy behaviour

In the wake of news that as many as 4 in 10 adult Britons don't even manage to walk for ten minutes a day, it's clear that campaigns to get people walking still don't seem to work - the answer has to be designing environments that make active travel the obvious and easy thing to do (and that includes giving people enough time to cross the road safely). If you're in or near London, this new active travel-focused campaign is certainly worth following. And while e-bikes might be seen as a 'lazy' option, they are most definitely not cheating - they're a great, sensible way to move people around, with added health benefits.

And Finally

We end this week with two charming stories - firstly, some lovely late-summer cycling on Blackpool's motor traffic-free promenade.

And while there may not be much child-friendly cycle infrastructure anywhere in Britain, this miniature cycle training road network near network looks absolutely amazing!