10 things about cycling to excite architects

1. Cycling is the only transport mode that puts eyes on the street
2. Bikes chained out the front, make buildings look hip green
3. Holistically speaking, buildings reached via bike are using less energy
4. Bicycle parking costs far less to build, than parking for cars
5. Building bike friendly buildings builds healthier hearts, and reduces obesity (click here for proof)
6. Carless clients save $2million per lifetime, that architects can help them spend on their buildings
7. Bikes fit in lifts, can go up and down ramps, and can be ridden from the living room to your office desk
8. Cycling is a diffused infrastructure, that works despite natural disaster and system failure
9. Bikes stop at shops, and can even be used as shopping trollies
10. A wider age range can cycle, than can legally drive

Cycling: puts eyes on the street; includes kids and the elderly; leaves clients more to spend on good buildings; replaces the trolley


  1. Anonymous says:

    Please accept the following feedback as constructive, and as the first thoughts that rolled off the end of my brain:

    1) Walking does too. And walking isn’t just walking alone, but is associated with mass transit use (trains/buses/trams), so mass transit also leads to more eyes on the street.

    2) Only during phases where bikes are fashionable, such as the one we’re in now. In 10 years time bikes might be incredibly unfashionable.

    3) I agree.

    4) But still costs more than offloading transportation costs to the public sector (I’m thinking public transport) or privatizing the cost of transport (privately owned parking stations, or privately owned mass transit).

    5) Sure, as long as you believe its the buildings that make people cycle, and not other stuff (like separated cycleways).

    6) I agree. But the current nature of our cities is such that most people that cycle still require a car.

    7) I agree.

    8) I agree, and think this is a really interesting at a more general level – that cycling can seem overly flexible, unruly and ungovernable to people who value order (cyclist as “scofflaw” in the public imagination). But as you are aware, the Scandanavian countries have managed to bring cycling under control, perhaps because the populations there are so controlled to begin with.

    9) This a good one, and an advantage over the mass transit/walking combination that is one of cycling’s main competitors.

    10) I agree, but others might secretly be happy at the way children’s travel is so restricted in the motorised society.

    • Steven says:

      Good stuff! It looks like I’ve found a peer to converse with. Thanks for giving your time to work through those 10 points.
      1. But on this first point, can I say, I think you’re being pedantic. Unless a person can live their whole life in one neighborhood, they will defer to some mode of transport that does not offer passive surveillance, unless that mode is a bike. So come on, can you grant me this first point?
      2. My error. Instead of “hip”, I should have said “green”. The green agenda looks set to follow us to extinction.
      3.thanks πŸ™‚
      4. No no no, bicycling IS transportation. Maybe you just haven’t tried a few weeks with a new/decent bike ($800-$1000) with high pressure tires? In cities where traffic lights prioritize bikes, you don’t have to be fit to cover 20km in a hour.
      5. The post is to architects, who design buildings, not bike paths.
      6. We can get cities working in such a way that occasional car hire and taxis would be preferable to owning a car of your own, for most people.
      7. we’re good πŸ™‚
      8. We’re certainly of like mind on this front. You’ll find this clip interesting, used by Dutch authorities to promote cycling, as mode they don’t want to tame: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5ug4L4Xnwuw&feature=player_embedded
      9. we’re good.
      10. You’re probably right, but gee, isn’t that sad! I loved roaming free as a kid, on my bike.
      But hey, all this makes for good conversation. Thanks, and feel free to keep drilling/sparring. Or introduce yourself even:)

    • Anonymous says:

      What I meant in (4) is that while bike parking costs less than car parking, it costs more than not providing parking at all, ie, offloading the cost of transport to somebody else, like the gubbermint to build trains/buses etc.

      I live in an area of 4-10 storey apartment buildings, and only a very few have off-street parking. I’m not against bike parking – I want it! – but saying “it’s cheaper” made me immediately think “cheaper than car parking, but that’s all”.

      Just playing devil’s advocate really.

    • Steven says:

      Got ya. The context for a lot of my own theorizing is one that doesn’t even exist, which makes my case even harder to explain. My overarching dream/idea, is that land flanking recreational bike trails (rail-trails, water fronts, park-connectors etc), will be developed so that those of us who want to ride all the time, can go without cars altogether. We’re an oddity now, but rising energy costs will see our numbers rising, I think. It’s a separatist view, but there you have it πŸ™‚

  2. Anonymous says:

    Not quite sure I agree with Anonymous’s critique of (4) either.

    Shifting the burden to another party has wider effects – the solutions Anon suggests are no environmental or social match for the bicycle.

    • Steven says:

      I think what he or she does offer though, is a perspective more representative of the urban design community, where there are no hard-line bike advocates (other than little ol’ me). My hunch, is this is a person who heard me speak at an urban design conference last week, and has kindly come for a look at my blog. I certainly welcome the new perspective, even if it does reflect the design profession’s current lack of awareness of the real potential of cycling.
      I’ll be honest, and say Anon’s response to number 4 left me feeling a little dumb, as though I was missing something important. I’m pleading for elucidation here folks πŸ™‚

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  4. Anonymous says:

    I had grandma stay for the weekend, and I discovered number 11. Bike infrastructure is great for the elderly on their electric scooters. Only problem was she left hers at home, but it would have been a great way for us to do something together. The weekend together taught me that a bike friendly building is a place that you can grow old in.

    Of course this logic negates point 1 as electric scooters will be putting eyes on the street.

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