Cyclelogistics + Housing = Activation of Lonely Bike Routes

Guys and gals, it has occurred to that:

1. most cities have a few lonely cycleways running through logistics land. I’m thinking in particular of a cycleway that I used to ride every day, wedged between a canal and the backside of some huge warehouses. A scary place late at night.

2. depending on the priority given to bike routes, and degrees of pedestrianization, in some cities it is cheaper and quicker to transport goods from logistics land to CBDs by cyclelogistics, than using vans.

(Stay with me, I know this is challenging).

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3. A lot of people using bikes for their transport struggle with housing affordability, don’t need to live near a train station, and would make pretty cool neighbours for those of us who can afford to live where choose. (Hmm, craft beer joints downstairs from my home: I would like that!)

Now think of a warehouse near some lonely bike route. What if there were apartments upstairs? The hipsters, bike couriers, and you and me, could all be living up there, and populating that lonely bike route so it isn’t so eery at night. Our apartment complex would have a podium base used for warehousing, with that craft beer joint I just mentioned opening onto the cycleway (or “activating” it, as our place-making friends like to say).

Minneapolis

I had this brainwave last night after an email exchange with David from BIKESydney. I was asking if he knew any under utilised greyfield sites near existing or planned cycleways around Sydney. Rebecca Short and I have been looking for such a site as a test bed, to fly some ideas.  David drew our attention to Alexandria Canal, just North of the Airport, and right on the Sydney Green Ring. His only reservation was the lack of other attractions. But attractions are the last thing you want when choosing a development site. They push up the land price and compete with the attractions you will be building.

So what do you think? A lot of people I speak to in Sydney are serious about opting in to a new model of living. There’s even talk of gathering a consortium of other visionaries—bike transport believers looking for an affordable but very funky address in this overpriced and poorly planned city. We could use a web service like Citiniche to manage the funds. There are architectural firms we can team up with in Sydney who supported my last book and who will work with us, not against us, in achieving the vision. Oh, and all the apartments will be arranged so we can ride out of our kitchens and be on the cycleway in about 20 seconds.

Marble run meets Robinhood Gardens

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.
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6 Responses to Cyclelogistics + Housing = Activation of Lonely Bike Routes

  1. Nick zintilis says:

    Good idea! Do not forget a bicycle shop that also sells the Best Coffee in Town included in your Plans.

  2. Check out Federation trail next time you are in Melbourne.It cuts a swathe right through the heart of logistics land and would be perfect for redevelopment as proposed in your post.Still, the cynic in me says the hipsters wouldn’t go for it. (yet).

    cheers,

    Ian

    • Steven says:

      Hi Ian, hipsters love warehouse districts, so location can’t be the problem. I know, we’ll make the apartment buildings look like stacks of old shipping containers :) I understand them not wanting a home that looks like their mum’s parents’ retirement apartment. Fair enough too!

  3. 7homask says:

    I too thought of the Federation Trail straight away. Then I thought of the slightly more loved district around Spotswood that has petrochemical silos being decommissioned and replaced with industrial warehousing once Mobil rehabilitates the site. Best bit is that the Scienceworks museum is over the road, and the bester bit is that it’s right near the Footscray Rd / Docklands bike path, and the bestest bit is that the new two birds brewery in just a bit further up the road. http://www.twobirdsbrewing.com.au/

    • Steven says:

      I’m going to have to start asking you guys for map coordinates. These sound like great sites for student projects. I might bring a bunch of students there next year, and get you all to show us around. Then we’ll pepper the melbourne press with future visions.

  4. crank says:

    The prices would be prohibitive, but Abbotsford and North Richmond have warehouses along the Yarra. Criminal, really. There’s even a multilevel car park with river views… I shit you not – http://goo.gl/maps/j65PK. I dream about your slip blocks along here. Near Victoria gardens there are numerous luxury apartments going up with, yep, shitloads of car parking to spew cars out on to the parking lot of Victoria Street. Mind you, no hipsters in Richmond, but Abbotsford, yes (and hipster families too!)

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