If Picasso were designing our bike infrastructure.

I know when I’m cycling in the Netherlands that quality bike infrastructure will be waiting for me wherever I turn. That ideal is unhelpful in countries starting from scratch. Our budgets allow for one or the other: shabby bike infrastructure all over town; or a few major arteries.

Increasing the bike share with cheap shabby bike infrastructure (signs and road markings) is like increasing driving by legalising the sale of 10 dollar cars imported from Africa. A stupid idea.

When you don’t have much paint on your brush, you don’t try to pigment the whole of your canvas. You make three or or four lines, like Picasso. With 4 defined strokes Picasso could capture a man’s imagination, giving him thoughts of pestering his wife the moment the kids are in bed (you reading this Primrose?) It likewise takes just a few lines, artfully drawn, to define a great bicycling network. Take New York, with its one line beside the West River, or Chicago, where every cyclists sooner or later ends following the lone of the lake. A few wonderful lines on a map can get a whole city thinking of cycling, the way a few lines by Picasso can get me thinking of… (Primrose, I believe those kids are asleep now).

I would gladly swap all the road marking and signs in this city, for the completion of the one bike trail worth planning my life around. The bold green line on this map has that potential.

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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