It is but an odd distinction some men would make, between “transport” and “recreational” bike infrastructure, as though the entire first world and all of its enterprises are anything but recreational now. When roads to the city find nothing other than cafes and bars, can you even say roads are for transport? We live in post-yoga-stage cities. If any space by now has not been made into a maker’s centre or craft shop it is being use for “activation” or “urban renewal”. Essentially the entire first world has retired on the proceeds of it’s military investments. We have places like Malaysia and Turkey to do all the work.
The road that hugs the coast where I “live”—whatever it means to “live” in our times—has a beautiful surface, a well defined bike lane and a 4 meter shared path at the side and neither the road or the bike lane or the 4 meter shared path do anything but lead drivers and cyclists and mothers with prams around in a meaningless circle. It’s one of the busiest roads in my city, especially on Sunday. And you would differentiate between “recreational” and “transport” bike infrastructure? No one has anywhere, really, to get to. They’re all just getting out of their houses. Trains, busses, aeroplanes, cars and bikes all exist merely to provide us with something to do—ways to play Pokemon Go.
Transport, real transport, is a concern of the working poor only. Moving teachers to rich children’s schools, cleaners to mansions, interns to the offices of business partners who are busy doing century rides in their lycra at lunch time—these are the movements that “transport” infrastructure exists to provide for.
In the post-yoga city, the ground plane exists to parade in ones sports car, or on their bakfiets, and thus be acknowledged by onlookers for the consumer choices they’ve made. That’s why it’s so important that streets be made “active”. Our duty as incendiary urbanists is to activate streets, for with no audience for whom to perform on our box bikes would might all stay at home and buy nothing.
Coming to terms with the street being no more than a stage, nonetheless leaves us with the inconvenient problem of transport. How can we make sure a nurse will be there at the hospital, and not falling asleep after a two hour commute, when we need our dialysis treatment?
Historically when the street has been taken over by bourgeois nobs, transport has been taken to other planes. Trips by the poor, required by the rich in Manhattan, were put in a subway, leaving the street for the rich folk to drive on, or walk from the curb side to Macy’s.
Since I really don’t have time to do better myself, here is a roundup of elevated bike transport solutions by that cad Colville-Andersen from his seminal blog post in praise of Norman Foster’s sky-cycle.