Scollopped streets with cobbled edges

Here’s a way pedestrians’ greater aversion to inclined surfaces, and cyclists’ greater aversion to cobbles, could be used to gently part each of these modes on a shared non-vehicular street. You would leave the intersections and edges of an existing street at their current level, but dig scollops where you would expect most cyclists would want to go faster. While the middle would be smooth, the edge would be rough. There would be no signs or stencils to give either mode a sense of entitlement to either zone. Instead we would rely on human nature, that pedestrians would stand clear when they heard a bike bells, and that cyclists would brake when they had to.

cobbled street scollopped


Some students of mine have coined the term “low means go / high means slow” to describe the way gravity would naturally cause cyclists to speed up as they turned toward the middle of such a street, then slow to pedestrian pace as they pulled to the side.

I’ve got to start plugging my book now. As well as espousing design techniques such as this one, I make the case that designing bike cities and buildings is a problem for architects and landscape architects, not road engineers. I believe it’s $26.95 at book depository.

I look forward to the day when the cycling community looks to architects, and not road engineers, as the natural designers of the places they ride. Traffic engineering is a discipline that makes national and international standards. It has to. As a discipline it evolved to minimise the risk inherent in the most dicey activity humankind has ever made mainstream. Unduly influenced by that design model, most bike advocates would look at my sketch and complain that it wouldn’t work in front of their house.

don't take me literally

don’t take me literally

It isn’t meant to. It’s meant to inspire architects, landscape architects, and any city with the vision to employ such designers after they have booted high-speed machines and their engineers out of their cities entirely.

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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7 Responses to Scollopped streets with cobbled edges

  1. Colin says:

    I reckon what you’re doing here is exactly traffic engineering. Bicycle traffic and pedestrian traffic that is. But it’s definitely about roads and traffic.

    Leave architecture behind and follow your true calling. It’s not about the buildings, it’s about the bits in between.

    • Steven says:

      ha ha, maybe you’re right, but wait a week until I show you some student designs for bike focused apartments.

  2. Steven says:

    Someone in Canada mentioned on twitter that it would be “difficult to clear of snow&would be dangerous in freezing rain”. So I won’t be calling it a cold climate solution.

  3. Giles says:

    Hey Steven!

    Sweet idea! how would the intersections work?
    This seems like the complete opposite of what’s been done in town back here in Newy. They’ve put in heaps more speed humps and lots of signage declaring the areas “High pedestrian”…

  4. kfg says:

    “gravity would naturally cause cyclists to . . .”

    . . . ride in a polluted stream.

  5. Steven says:

    we’ll use underground drain pipes. Phew, another major flaw dodged. And we’ll use heating elements to stop any ice. It will be fine, trust me

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