From the sketchbook this week.

To be read in conjunction with a prior post and article on Velotopia.

We had a staff retreat yesterday. Given my penchant for cycling, even to staff retreats 40km away in the country, I felt excused for arriving half an hour late. As for spending the rest of the day doodling instead of writing stuff on big pieces of butcher’s paper, my only excuse could be that my doodling is saving the world.

What if I let you be the judge? Would the world be better if, instead of conceiving cities as funnelling devices to make people pass shops (like Manhattan), they were conceived for people on bikes to have maximum face-to-face connections with the people they wanted to see?

Would apartment living be better if vertical circulation were provided by ramped aerial streets instead of stairs and/or lifts? The following exploded diagram shows how full-width apartments on levels 1 and 3 can each be accessed via a ramped aerial street on level two.


Drawing every block in a 15km diameter city of two million people would have taken all day. All I could steal time for was a sketch of a 1km diameter miniature version. The dots represents the tops of mounds spaced 60 meters apart. Each would be the site of a shop or the start of a ramped aerial street:
Here is an elevation of two typical double helical blocks with the dots in the air hovering above the centres of those mounds spaced 60m apart:

I had a thought about shopping centres, that putting all the food in one easy place is something you would do as a farmer if you wanted to sell marbled meat. But if you wanted lean meat, you would make your stock forage. Maybe a healthy city is one that makes people ride from the fruit and veg store to the butcher to the packaged goods shop, etc.. See what I mean?


Finally I gave some thought to the office tower. While I think office design is better served by the perimeter block form, it is nonetheless fun contemplating how thousands of office workers might all arrive at the base of a tower with a bike they would like to park at their desk, then use they pannier bag as part of their workspace.


I’m banking on a percentage of the workers being able to squeeze into the lifts with their bikes, and the rest depositing their bikes into automatic retrieval systems for subsequent delivery to their office floor. In the interim, their bike would be docked in a half-cylinder shaped bank of bikes all placed by robotic arms. A person could take a shower, take the lift to their floor, and call for their bike with a swipe card when they were ready.


It may seem over the top trying to bring bikes to everyone’s desks. My aim though is not to accommodate bikes in an adequate way, but to tease out the competitive advantage of a city designed around bikes. Surely one advantage is that a bike can be your transport and your portable office.

Should I feel bad about not giving 100% of my attention to yesterday’s annual gabfest?

1 Comment

  1. troy says:

    thanks for the insights into your work…
    while i don’t think i’m a believer in sticking your bike at your desk, i did work in a very large NY office building that took annoying long time to walk across! (i actually wore those ‘heelys’ shoes for a short while ahah)
    probably stairs and _some_ walking are good for the beasts’ bone density!

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