Not packing my bike to visit old pedestrian cities

Today I’ve been packing for a month in Italy. I lead architectural history tours on an annual basis—it’s all just a ruse to buy shoes. Anyhow, for the first time since I bought it back in 2011 I was having doubts about taking my Brompton. Most of the cities I’ll be heading to I have explored to death on two wheels already, and for exercise I might as well run up and down any flight of stairs I happen upon by Michelangelo. I can think of three off the bat.

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My decision was made for me with Lloyd Alter’s latest blog post on Treehugger, comparing the size of a typical interchange in car city, with the entire pedestrian city of Florence.

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I have decided that since I will be spending the next month in cities that predate the invention of either the bike or the car, that this time I will experience them as their builders intended, on foot.

I am so spoilt though. You have no idea. I have my work to do for my students, and plan to spend my free time working on my current book project. Rather than sitting in my car city writing about the ideal bike city, I will sitting in walkable cities, writing about the ideal bike city. Neither city can help me in my endeavour. One is too big and the other too small. I’ll stop my post there to enflame all you die hard fans of Jan Gehl and Jane Jacobs who a walkable city is useful these days. By the time I see any reactions on Twitter I will be in Rome.

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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One Response to Not packing my bike to visit old pedestrian cities

  1. Luke says:

    Saw this today – conservatives (I think in the US sense) like bigger houses further apart, while liberals like smaller houses but a more walkable city.

    So your vision of a cycling city could be based on your politics?

    https://twitter.com/joesarling/status/477785015540285440

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