I was in a taxi recently, talking to the driver about issues with cyclists and cars, and he said, “It’s a shame, but cities just weren’t built to accommodate cyclists.” He said it as though cities were built for cars. Most date from the age of horse drawn transportation, that averaged just 6 kilometers per hour, and unfortunately filled streets with mountains of horse shit.
When bikes hit the streets in the late 1800s, they were called “silent steeds”, and recognised as the greatest thing ever for cities. And right into the forties, bikes were city’s best friends, perhaps even more so than the trams everyone seems to recall most. The biggest mistake ever was letting freeways spill into cities, in the 1950s and 60s, and squeezing out cyclists with these big fast machines that cities really weren’t built for.
It’s no surprise that all over the world, that mistake is being unravelled. What is surprising, is the bike craze we’re now seeing, isn’t precisely the same as cycling in the inter-war era. There’s a wider variety of bikes, including sports bikes, and eBikes, that can transport average riders much further. Old urban cores are broken with arterial roads and surface car parking. And industrial areas are being converted into new urban districts with car-free promenades, that are filling was quickly with cyclists as walkers.
The new age of the bicycle brings with it a whole range of new problems, and opportunities, for architects and urban designers, that I’ve been blogging about for the last couple of years, and have now developed into a book. I chose to have it published by the Netherlands Architecture Institute (NAi) Publishers, to be partnered with the country that has the most to teach others at this time in history. Now you can be in league with us, by pledging to support this book’s promotion, so it doesn’t just sit on the shelves. I would love to see it on every architect’s and urban planner’s desk before Christmas! The book holds lots of best practice examples and new ideas, that I think can break through a lot of the barriers holding cycling back at this time, when it really needs to forward.
If you’re in the bicycling industry, or from the fields of architecture or urban planning, or if you might like to help by pre-ordering a book for yourself, please just have a quick browse through the various rewards we’ve prepared for big or small sponsors, on our crowd funding site.