Thankfully cycling won’t have a Steve Jobs

steve jobs book cover

Aren’t you bored by all of these Steve Jobs wannabes? I’m meeting them everywhere. It seems every narcissist in every field (including here in the bike world) has a mentor, mater and new excuse. What they don’t realise is there is no great wave like the internet coming for them to ride. They can come up with all the “just do its” “think differents” or “choose lifes” but unless they are part of another historic consumer swindle like home computing their biographies won’t be replacing any on Jobs, or Atlas Shrugged as the bible for wankers any time soon.


The only wave on the horizon that I can see is the bicycling wave but the bike industry itself is so well established, so diffuse, and so immune from major IP disruption that no one can be its Bill Gates.

The only field set to boom as bike transport rises is the field I am leading, environmental design with new-build, and it’s a field that’s immune from monopolisation through patents. That’s because every building solves the problems of its own unique context. Ideas that in other fields might be patentable are more like the idea of the diamond frame or the crank set. Architects own copyright to the extend that particular designs can’t be stamped upon subsequent sites without them being paid a fee, but since sites are so different, that is not something that commonly happens.

So what do I get for being a pioneer? Well, nothing if I’m wrong about cycling increasing, and maybe it won’t—maybe a virus will wipe us all out. I get nothing for my ideas being wrong, which because they’re experimental most will be. What I get is the personal satisfaction of knowing I got my foot to the ball and like any under-six soccer player, kicked it the right way down the field. The greatest satisfaction is hearing of direct influences my writing is having on architectural practice and education. I spoke at Singapore’s archifest to 1000 architects in 2012 and am now seeing proposals like this, for a new shopping mall in that country. There’s my reward!


As you might guess, I just saw this film on a plane


  1. Nik Dow says:

    Curious how the palm tree nearest the ramp has fallen over. Already.

    Roof garden is great, but needs shade. Singapore!

    Also someone needs to tell that architect that bikes need direct, convenient routes, not circuitous routes around the outside.

    • Steven says:

      I’m guessing the shopfronts are facing outward onto these galleries. But you know, in Singapore, buildings are designed after construction 🙂

  2. Well, my satisfaction: I kicked the ball of cycling into the global playing field in the year 2000 when it was still hardly existent and now after many years of working the issue with love and passion cycling has turned into a global player. My ambition then to make cycling glamorous, all over the world is getting there ,day by day. Yes, I am proud. Pascal van den Noort, Dutch Cycling Ambassador and Executive Director of Velo Mondial, a micro-multinational.

    • Steven says:

      All true. I’ve also had the pleasure of knowing Charles Komanoff and Anne Lusk in the US.

    • Steven says:

      Pascal, regarding glamour, cyclists get rained on (drivers don’t) and we have to park our bikes where they get bashed up and stolen. Are you saying you want to glorify cycling, as it is now, in Amsterdam for example? If you do that you will be obstructing me in my work to inspire radical change in the way we approach the design of the city. Amsterdam has a lot of bike routes that ought to have roofs, and redevelopment sites that ought to have bike-centric buildings, not copies of buildings from eras that put walking or driving first. That city also needs to swap vans for cyclelogistics, remove on-street parking, and ban those motor scooters. It is good to present Amsterdam to the world as the best that there is, and as a lab full of good and bad lessons, but promoting it as a shining example puts too low a ceiling on what can be achieved using bikes. Promotion might have the opposite effect to the one you imagine.

  3. Nik Dow says:

    Maybe it’s like all those other “artists impressions” that show people and bikes in the drawings, never to be seen in real life.

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