To pedestrianise or to bicyclise?

Cycling should be more than an add-on to the 50 year old project of pedestrianising main shopping streets. That is how it has been treated on Broadway and Times Square in New York. The cycle tracks there can be used at little more than walking pace, not bicycling pace. Bikes move at between 15 and 35kph, so need a wide fluid space for cyclists of various speeds to pass one another. Cyclists enjoy undulating surfaces to gather speed and slow down with less effort. They enjoy long uninterrupted routes, from Brooklyn to the Bronx.

So enough with pedestrianising streets. All this does is increase numbers of people coming to the city by train, to shop and eat, then sit on their bums while they ride the train home. The species is dying from everything a pedestrianised street has to offer: consumption and inactivity. We don’t need to pedestrianise streets, we need to bicyclise them, starting I suggest with the full length of one of Manhattan’s avenues. The full width, from sidewalk to sidewalk, should be carved into basins for cyclists to dip into then rise at the streets, so they will have already lost speed and stored potential energy for the next dip, in the event that a traffic light is making them stop. We need to be lobbying for this the same way Ford lobbied on behalf of his interests, on the grounds that what is good for cycling, is good for the species.

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.
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