An essay I have co-written with Angelina Russo for The Conversation, that appeared two days ago, points to the power of utopian visions and cultural institutions to bring these into the cultural imaginary. My big vision is for urban districts developed on a bicycle mobility platform. What does that mean? Well consider: venice was built around boating; Singapore has been built around transit and driving; Los Angeles has been built around driving, and the so-called bike city of Groningen NL, was built around walking and horses. My work is in imagining new layers of cities, built by redeveloping brownfields and connecting them up, with unique forms, because they respond to the unique attributes of bicycle motion.
Putting bikes first (before transit and walking, and banishing cars) opens all kinds of design possibilities, like protecting cyclists from the rain, and using a ground plane that is sculpted to slow bikes near foyers and shops, but which helps them speed up in between.
I blogged some months ago about an idea some students of mine arrived at (Sara Chugg, Rachel Englung, Fiona McMullen and Chivonne Prouse) to conceive the ground plane as a field of mounds with pedestrians and slowed bikes sharing the crests. Now imagine the crests are linked with pedestrian bridges. That would leave a low level grid network of bike routes, passing under the pedestrian bridges, and passing under all of the buildings, letting cyclists make bee-lines to any point in the district.
The buildings are a new kind of slab block we have developed around gently ramped aerial streets. I know they look like Stalinist barracks, and the foam model base looks like Siberian snow. But the aim of this project is to provoke. I figure provocation worked for Le Corbusier and other architects who inspired cities for cars. It might work for bikes too.