From Brownfields to Bikefields (sample passage)

I’ve been busy lately preparing a few presentations I’ll be giving on cycling and cities, in the next couple of days. A lot of thought needs to go into what bike to arrive on, what clothes to match it to, how I should wear my hair, and of course what images I should steal from the web to put in my powerpoint presentations. As a result, I’ve been neglecting my blog, and worse still, neglecting my crowd-funding venture on pozible, to raise funds to promote my new book when it hits the shelves in coming months. So how about I take a short cut, and post a few teasing passages. Here are the first two paragraphs from a chapter called From Brownfields to Bikefields. If they get your attention, do have a look at the rewards on my crowd funding page. They include talks I can give to your office, logo placement within the book, ads on my blog, and incredible natural fragrances my Primrose has developed inspired by scents I know from my favourite bike routes.

From Cycle-Space:

Infrastructure and laws privileging bicycles over cars in the Netherlands were borne of unique circumstances in the early 1970s: hundreds of children killed on their bikes every year, mass demonstrations, car-free Sundays and an oil crisis. We can learn from the Dutch, but treating their story as a meta-narrative, as though strategies they employed can be repeated where politics differ, is folly. 

There is, however, a pragmatic approach to achieving more cycling in cities where change is coming too slowly; an approach borne of current political circumstances and the post-industrial urban condition. It involves building bike paths where they don’t impact voters who drive – on rail easements, parks, waterways – then rezoning whatever brownfields these paths intersect, to permit Bicycle-Oriented Developments (BODs)…

(Is that enough?)

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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2 Responses to From Brownfields to Bikefields (sample passage)

  1. Edward says:

    Dr Behooving, I’m not sure it is quite enough.

    You would know that London has a campaign at the moment called “Love London, Go Dutch”. They are in no doubt that emulating what the Dutch have done is the right thing for London. I think they’re right.

    I read somewhere that the lobbying in the Netherlands took about ten years before it finally bore fruit. The combination of an oil crisis and the “Stop the Murder” campaign seems to be what did it.

    A common mistake (or folly) is to say that we should simply build bike paths “like the Dutch”. In many places, simply trying to copy what we see on a blog post or holiday won’t work. However the ideas behind the Dutch system; that is, the principles of sustainable safety and unravelling the bicycle networks from the motor vehicle networks are things I think we can and should adopt.

    Those principles are entirely consistent with what I understand you to be advocating. You of course go one step further and advocate not just proper street and network design but architecture and suburbs being designed as BODs (I hope I have understood you).

    So in summary, my suggestion would be rather than saying that simply repeating what the Dutch did is folly, maybe deal with how the general principles can be adapted and used in our Australia cities as they currently are.

    I hope I’m making sense.

    • Steven says:

      Perfect sense, thanks. Now I’m a cyclist with kids, so of course I want what Holland has too. Which is why I’m not waiting for public support from a nation of drivers, to start the ball rolling. And I would naturally hope the complete networks Holland enjoys, would follow in time.
      On your other point, it is indeed promising that some Brits have come back from their weekends in Holland with images of bike paths in their minds, and have now started to rally. If London cyclists do have the numbers, they might just get something built that Australians will envy, when they see it on their trips to London. I wouldn’t be surprised if Sydney-siders followed suit with rallies like that, then maybe Melbourne.
      You probably read about Holland’s 10 year campaign on David Hembrow’s site, View From the Bike Path. He’s keeping a great historical record, but not a blanket prescription. Neither is mine.

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