An expert is something to be

On June 21 I spoke at a symposium in Seattle to a small but dedicated audience, a few of whom had read my book and made special efforts to be in the audience. I was supported too by my colleague and great friend Anne Lusk, a behind-the-scenes star of the American trail and cycle track revolution, who extends me with her brilliant mind. After Seattle I went with Anne back to Harvard for a week as a visiting scientist—my second stint there with her team. Liveable Streets Boston organised a “meet Steven” night at a local pub that attracted the city’s chief transport planner, bike-share director and cycle-track engineer. Anne and I also gave seminars to the developers of Boston’s incredible Seaport redevelopment project, who were genuinely interested in our research. Then it was on to New York to spend the weekend cycling around Queens discovering forgotten sites I believe are of special interest to bicycle focused brownfield redevelopment. I spent considerable time with a contingent from New London Architecture who have cycled across the US on a kind of grand tour cum two-wheel derive.

From left: Paul Steely White (trans-alt), Alison Cohen (NYC bike share), me, Peter Murray (NLA), Alex Washburn (Chief Urban Designer NYC).

From left: Paul Steely White (trans-alt), Alison Cohen (NYC bike share), me, Peter Murray (NLA), Alex Washburn (Chief Urban Designer NYC).

A highlight was speaking at the Centre for Architecture—the American Institute of Architects’ headquarters in New York. Other speakers were the heads of New London Architecture, Citi-Bike and Transportation Alternatives. New York’s chief urban designer moderated the panel discussion afterward, that I was a part of. My motivation for blogging since 2009, was to reach precisely the point I have now reached. I’m not sure what the motivation might be from hereon. My hit count has been dwindling, proportionate to my dwindling efforts. I certainly get fewer comments. But then, I’ve stopped trying to be so hilarious as I was as a blogger two years ago. Somewhere in there I became the world’s leading expert of the nexus between architecture and cycling — which I guess is something to be. Futurama for bikes

About Steven

I'm on a mission to put cycling on the agendas of architects, urban designers and fellow academics, who see the potential for bicycles to change cities and buildings. My PhD is in architectural history and my interdisciplinary research spans art theory, philosophy and cultural studies. I teach architectural history and theory and design studio at The University of Tasmania, Australia, and formerly worked as an architect designing large public housing projects in Singapore. My favourite bikes are a titanium racing bike I use for racing, a Velorbis retro commuter for riding to cafes and work, a single speed ultra light Brompton that I take with me when I travel on planes, a 29er hard tail mountain bike that I get lost on in remote places, an old track bike that scares me, a 1984 Colnago Super with all original campagnolo components that is plugged into a virtual realm that I train in, and a Dutch-made Bakfiets, that could easily replace half of the bikes I just mentioned.
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4 Responses to An expert is something to be

  1. Edward says:

    Interesting what you say about the comments. It could well just be part of the development of these ideas. I have noticed over the years both the type of comments and their number change as well as the type and sophistication of blog post. Just look for example at the way the Copenhagenize blog has developed over the years. Cycling specific blogs appear to have moved with the times as ideas develop. When many started 5 and 6 years ago, there was no Cycling Embassy of Great Britain and the types of ideas that it promotes were far from mainstream. Now they seem to be in the Guardian almost weekly.

    Interesting to see how it all develops from here.

    So now that you have got this far, what’s the answer? Can one judge as expert by the height of his hair?

    • Steven says:

      he he, I think my ego is pushing my quiff higher and higher. I dread those flat hair days. A lot of unconnected people were responsible for citizen cycling spreading from Europe, but clearly Mikael has helped the spread with his excellent communication skills: graphics, slogans, an unwavering line. I’ve always known my niche position was to open architects’ eyes to the role they can play, but haven’t played yet. The message is getting through though. At least a dozen bike nut arch grads in the US introduced themselves to me as readers of my blog and my book. I’m forming a pace-line of juniors to cut through the wind. It’s a relief though to see hits and comments reducing. I’ve seen 600 and 700 hit days, and even a few days in the thousands, which can easily become addictive and make you start writing to please an audience. It’s an easy trap to fall into. Onward we press though. I wonder how your mayor got on at Velo City — aka “mayor-fest”?

  2. Don says:

    I’m almost certain it was your very good self that once wrote that a good blog should be written like a diary and that followers would result naturally, attracted by the honesty of the output.

    I would be sorry to see ‘Cycle-Space’ disappear, if that were in your thoughts. I enjoy your insights into how architecture might ‘leverage’ (God, I hate that made up word, but can’t think of a better one at the mo’) the power of the bicycle’s simplicity and elegance.

    It was fascinating to see how ‘Dr. Behooving’ matured into ‘Cycle-Space’ some time ago. Perhaps this might be the time for another growth cycle, if you’ll pardon the pun?

    • Steven says:

      well that is very kind of you :) I shall keep my blog as a diary then! That last entry reflects the numbness I always feel on my way home from some intense time overseas meeting people and wallowing in my newfound importance. You gee yourself up for the performance then head home to face paperwork. The blog won’t go away, because I have a book to write, and rely on readers finding fault wit my ideas.

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