My developing thesis

My point is this, that the bicycle is more than a clean green midlife crisis, more than just a cheap trick planners can use to clear space on the roads for those dependent on cars, and basically more than anyone else has yet been able to articulate. What I think is that the bicycle is no less than an emblem of our age, and a paragon to which designers in all fields now aspire.
Of course, the internet is still big (I’m using it now). However, few of us who find ourselves at computers find our selves there—nor would we want to. "I am the world’s keenest facebooker" is not something many would boast of. The internet is no more an emblem than was the television. The big emblems of the last two hundred years have all concerned transport.

For a long time, it was possible to locate one’s identity in the brand of car they drove. However, with such books as Richard Florida‘s The Great [car] Reset, which identifies a downward trend in car ownership, and a population shift from car dependent, to transit oriented cities, we must accept that cars have become pretty old-hat. What will replace them?
      
Cars replaced ocean liners, that in turn displaced trains, that in the 1800s held the public imagination and inspired art and design. 
If you will run with this idea of mine, that the design world always needs an emblem promising such omnipotent notions as mobility, speed and escape, then you might see, how I see, the bicycle now filling this void. The idea I’m asking you run with, btw, comes from my fondness of Sigfried Giedion’s thoughts about Einstein—a huge aside if I went into it now. 
So we have a design paragon, whose attributes are frugality and irreducibility, and which conjures thoughts about health, qualities that can all be transferred onto other kinds of design objects, ranging from clothing to buildings. 
We also have a whole new spatial paradigm, that in an earlier post I have called cyclespace.
(to be continued after I’ve slept, and can muster some proof). 

 

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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