I know not everyone who attended Velo-City this year could also afford time off work to attend some more prestigious events on the bicycle urbanism calendar like the Venice Architecture Biennale or Pitti Uomo in Florence. That is why I must tender my annual reports, this time both rolled into one as on their own neither would amount to a story.
A giant model of ‘West Village Basis Yard’ in Chengdu, by the architect Liu Jiakun is, I lament, the only exhibit of any interest at all in Venice this year. Clearly indebted to the tireless work of that seminal design studio cycle-space, this is a building with scissoring access galleries that would allow us, you and I, to cycle all the way to a rooftop next time we have business or are whoring through China. (Read more of that here).
But to Pitti Uomo, Spring/Summer, the mens fashion show. The highlight there for we gentleman who prefer our transport be powered by us, was the urban cycling range of Norwegian Rain. Their specialty is clothing designed to make photographers working for The Satorialist chase us through SoHo, knowing though that our garments are emanating from Oslo where, we are told, it never stops raining. Somewhere in the manufacturing process a smear of nano treatment is added to everything in their range, guaranteed not to wear off before the release of their next catalogue.
With cycling being so high on their minds there in Oslo, with the recent announcement of a two-fucking-billion-Euro cash dump into cycle path building, Norwegian Rain have been naturally playing with longer sleeves and fasteners that can be managed one-handed, all things Rapha, Paul Smith, etc., have been doing since it became evident a buck could be spun from white-collar workers who cycle.
Hasn’t city living gotten to be incredibly shabby! In ages past men did not use their clothing to protect their bodies from rain. They built porticos and giant basilicas. It was only with the rise of encapsulated transportation (omni busses, street cars and automobiles) that men saw fit to denude streets of awnings.
Here, see, a moment I caught on my iphone in Ravenna last month, where it is still expected that every new building contribute to the covering of streets so pedestrians and people on bikes can go without raincoats or sun screen.
When will those pushing a renaissance of walking and cycling realise that weather protection is a collective endeavour?
Waterproof jackets are as thoughtless as eBikes. Where the former perpetuates the exposure of streets to the sky, the latter perpetuates sprawl. Let the built environment fall naturally around the modes we envision taking us to a healthy and sustainable future, and those modes will flourish. Continue building for capsule-based transport, and it is capsules my friend, that you will see.