Bicycles and the rhizome-type city

The world wide web, so theory has it, is hard to attack because it is diffuse. It has no big middle bit to strike out. A city with one business district, one water supply, one central railway interchange, one power plant, etc., will grind to a halt in the event that any one piece of it fails, be that by flood, fire, human error, an earthquake, a meteorite, an alien invasion, a visit by Paris Hilton, whatever. Planners and clued-up politicians are talking now about a rhizome-like order for cities, not the simple machine-like order accompanying heroic infrastructural projects of ages gone by. Instead of big dams, they think rainwater tanks. Instead of one heavy rail link, they think about many light rail links. Instead of one giant power plant, they think of solar panels on all of our roof tops. Forget THE city centre: think many town centres.
As bicycling advocates, we will be ringing all the right bells if we talk in these terms. Remind politicians that disruptions to oil or electricity supplies cannot bring a bicycle born population to a sudden halt. Remind them how cyclists got by, though motorists didn’t, on the day of “carmageddon“, when a freeway had to be closed for major works in Los Angeles. Have them know how many people in Tokyo got home after the 2011 earthquake/tsunami/nuclear disaster: they bought every last bike from every last bike store, and rode home. Cycling is nimble. It finds ways around. It keeps working though systems around it shut down.

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  1. […] at (May 2010); Steven Flemming, “Bicycles and the rhizome-type city,” at (September […]

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