green maps

A great question to ask when looking for answers to the problem of cycling, is

“Where can I be on a bike in my city?”

Giambattista Nolli’s famous map from 1748 came out of a similar question. He asked where he could be if walking in Rome. Anywhere he could go was left white. Anywhere he couldn’t go was etched and made black. Urban designers have been inspired by Nolli’s map ever since and use what has come be known as figure/ground mapping as a key tool for urban interventions.


Here’s an urban analysis where we asked where one can be in a car, on foot or on a bike. The resulting map made it clear to our clients why people were driving to town, and driving around town when they got there. The shared pedestrian and bicycling sidewalks had been broken by driveways leading in and out of mid block garages. Based on this knowledge new design guidelines could be introduced to phase out the construction of driveways that break footpaths.

green map launceston
The next project is one that looked at a city where most streets are friendly to cyclists.  However, analysis revealed a huge problem.
High Res Jpeg 31st July Green
28th July Green

To a risk averse cyclists, a child for example, the city would feel like a hundred small islands with what might as well be oceans between them. Arterial roads with limited safe crossing opportunities for people on bikes, and residential streets engineered to provide drivers with shortcuts leave most cyclists trapped on the street where they live. How can they access schools, jobs or shops? With this map our clients, a peak body representing developers, are now able to lead discussions with the community about the kind of city people actually want.

The next example is of a technology park with a lot of new bike paths compromised by minor breaches the city had been ignoring. Our maps also cast light on some potential short cuts and links that were otherwise not apparent.
Ilustrator file 23 march with dots

Our green maps don’t provide answers to making cities more connected for people with bikes. What they do is invite anyone to be part of the discussions that will find good solutions. Coming up with answers is easy. It’s the framing of quality questions that matters. “Where can I be on my bike?” is one of the best questions there is when starting on the road to bike friendly city design.

Our maps are delivered in image file and vectorised formats so can be easily shared electronically or printed at any scale. A giant green map spread on a table is guaranteed to keep planning discussions on track. In the report you’re compiling, it will be the double page with the green map that  is left open at meetings. Because our biggest time commitment in making a map is actual fieldwork (done rubber-side-down on a bike with a clipboard), you can be guaranteed we will be experts on your city by the time our work is completed. It is that combination of a global perspective and intimate knowledge that means we can work with you and your stakeholders toward a great plan for your city.

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