About Cycle Space
Capitalism deals with its surplus by building new cities. If we take a dim view of that, it is because we have watched cities be built that enslave common people. However, other city models can be imagined, the most healthy, liberating and efficient being those that have bicycle transport as a form generator.
Take that idea now and imagine a consultancy helping cities, developers, architects and the bicycling industry to be agents of positive change. That’s Cycle Space. We take highfalutin thinking that academics once only used to find fault, and put it to an optimistic new challenge: creating buildings and cities that serve us all better.
Thought for the day: car centric cities are failing.
They have the worst commute times, poorest health and highest emissions. Not surprisingly, jobs, people and wealth are shifting to cities with more transport choices.
Conventional wisdom tells us to densify city centres and add public transport, in other words, replicate the late nineteenth-century booms of Paris, New York, etc.. But with today’s governments being much smaller mass rapid transit is not keeping pace with densification. In any dense city where the ground plane has to cope with most transportation, average car speeds drop below 18km/ph. At that point car transport hinders bike transport, that if freed of impediments could deliver average speeds of 15 to 20km/ph, no matter how dense a city became.
That image describes a modal shift that is occurring naturally as densities rise and people opt for the bike out of frustration with driving and transit. What it doesn’t describe are cities that see the inherent superiority of cycling as the mode for the city, so prioritise cycling at every road junction. Insofar as cities are machines for connecting the greatest number of people to the largest possible markets, cities of the Randstad conurbation—Amsterdam and its neighbours joined by frequent/fast trains—are emerging as winning examples. Recent modal share data shows cycling dwarfs driving, especially near the centre and the central train station.
Twentieth-century development was done on the cheap in Amsterdam, with more bike infrastructure than transit investment or freeways. But out of those superficially dispiriting circumstances Europe’s capital of innovation was born. Most of Amsterdam’s 800,000 inhabitants enjoy a lighting fast, healthy and free bike-centric lifestyle in the four inner boroughs, while at the scale of the Randstad megalopolis (Amsterdam, Rotterdam, etc) cycling is the lynchpin of a rail network that connects 7 million people. Cycling is a mode cities can afford, that affords them greater connectivity. And let’s not forget that Amsterdam was not even purpose built for the bike. So much more could be done in growing cities.
Architect and academic Dr. Steven Fleming has published over 40 peer reviewed articles and scholarly books including the two seminal texts on bicycle centric environmental design: Cycle Space, Architecture and Urban Design in the Age of the Bicycle (NAi010, 2012) and Velotopia: The Production of CycleSpace in Our Minds and Our Cities (NAi010, 2017). He is a founding partner of Cycle Space Amsterdam, the public/private partner of the municipality of Amsterdam, representing that city’s bicycling expertise to the world. Exhibitions include the 2017 Bicycle Architecture Biennale he curated in Amsterdam, and the Freewheeling exhibition of the National Museum of Australia that features his work. His work continues to receive press coverage in influential corners including The Guardian, CityLab, FastCompany, ArchDaily, Architectural Digest etc.. He is a draw-card speaker to institutes of Architecture (New York, Rotterdam, Vancouver, Singapore, Sydney etc.) and major events (the launch of Europe by People, VeloCity, La Ciudad de las Bicis, etc.). Clients include cities (Singapore, Amsterdam, Bogota, Oslo, Ryde), agencies (FutureBuilt Norway, the Property Council of Australia and the Architectural Institute of British Columbia), corporations (Shimano, Univa America), and property developers (Boston Global Investors and Mavid Group). Since 2001 he has held academic positions at the Universities of Canberra, Tasmania and Newcastle in Australia and visiting positions at Harvard and Columbia universities in the US. As a government architect in Singapore he designed and project managed 4 major developments including a total of 1810 dwelling units and designed a 2.4 hectare park, an early example of his life mission to design active environments.
Ben Thorp is a graduate architect who has been instrumental in developing the mapping techniques employed by Cycle Space to help cities. Part of his degree was completed in Poland where he developed a keen interest in constructivist housing and new town experiments. Clients of Cycle Space benefit from Ben’s professional experience in this and other design firms, his enthusiasm for research, his membership of bicycle advocacy advisory groups and, or course, his formal training in architecture. Ben is also very well known among Tasmanian rock climbers.
Terms of Engagement: Cycle Space International P/L is a privately owned and completely independent consultancy serving clients who are sharing our mission. If you have ambitions that would increase bicycle transport, we have the lobbying, researching and built environment design expertise to win over authorities and your partners.
Cycle-Space International Pty. Ltd. is a company incorporated in Australia and owned and directed by Steven Fleming. ACN: 603 608 886. The term Cycle Space is trademark protected (details here).