What is needed to induce the die-hard city commuters to leave behind their cars and adopt cycling as a mode of transport? Should the cost of using the car in central city areas be so cost prohibitive that only the those willing to part with large sums for the privilege persist? Or should urban designer adopt a range of innovative measures to entice inner city commuters to adopt what is afterall a healthier lifestyle alternative?
The McDonalds Cycle Centre in Chicago’s Millenium Park is leading the way in rethinking what it means to cycle and the sort of facilities which may transform the way commuting and recreational cycling is viewed. Philip Modest Schamberlan and + Anton Fromm’s Bicycle Hotel intends to entice the cyclist into the mountains in pursuit of a recreational touring lifestyle by providing an intriguing Fractal experience perched above Lake Garda.
Perhaps the designers of this streetscape had already absorbed Robert’s message. Not only the shade trees (Cinnamomum camphora), but lots of heat-island reducing planters too. Not so many parked cars as in Bermondsey, but of course loads of bicycles and mopeds. The great majority of the mopeds in the picture are electric. So far, so sustainable. But, this is also a social streetscape. Behind the arcade on the left are the lunchtime restaurants, the vegetables are prepared on the pavement under the arcade and the customers enjoy a cigarette after their meal on the benches and raised walls in the balmy, late autumn sun. The large, evergreen shrubs – Osmanthus fragrens – fill the air with their light scent. Residents dry their washing on the clothes racks outside their apartment windows without the use of machines. One of many such streets in the Pudong New District of Shanghai, all not much older than 15-20 years.
The French farmer’s protested their financial plight in a charmingly French manner by greening the Champ-Elysee.
Another unusual example of the trend towards green is the Lost House of Paris. The occupants literally live within a greenery covered house. To travel green in the city of romance you simply phone a ‘Vectrix’ taxi.
As Pierre Patel’s 1688 painting of Versailles (below) shows, axes can be green and they can be canals. And canals can be used for transport. Civic leaders need courage, imagination, wisdom – and a wealth of ideas from the design professions.
My 19th (?) escape: the cycling accident I nearly had in London
I picked up this helpful leaflet from the London Cycling Campaign
and modified it a little to show an the occasion on which a truck driver nearly killed me – about two years ago. He behaved exactly as illustrated and knocked me onto the footpath. Lying between the wheels of his turning truck, I screamed. He heard me and stopped. Then he told me it was my own silly fault – and drove off leaving me too shocked to claim for damage to my bike. Limping home, I remembered my Mum’s poem:
“Oh dear Mama
What is that mess
That looks like strawberry jam”
“Hush hush, my dear,
That is Papa,
Run over by a tram”
Cyclists need to be sustained if we are to have sustainable cycling in London.
London's 'super' cycle highways are designed for ugliness. The 'artist's impression' shows threatening busses and cyclists who are already ghosts.
Transport for London TfL has an implementation programme for Cycle Superhighways
and claims that they will be ‘safe, fast, direct routes into central London from outer London. The first two routes open in Summer 2010 with ten more being introduced by 2015.’
‘Highway’ comes from the Old English heiweg
“main road from one town to another” and planning them as direct routes from origins to destinations is unusually sensible for UK cycleroute planning. But I object to their being described as ‘super’. They will be narrow, ugly,pale blue, bargain basement tracks. See for example the implementation schedule for the ‘Super Highway’ from Barking to Tower Gateway. The work can be done quickly because it is merely a paint job – and the chosen shade of blue is suspiciously close to that used by the Tory party during its recent election campaign.
A really super cycle highway would be ‘ ‘safe, fast, direct, quiet, clean, beautiful – and expensive’. So they should employ landscape architects, not engineers with paint brushes, to do the work. I worry that badly conceived cycle paths will get little use – so that the planners will then argue that it was a waste of money. They should (1) go ahead with the present plans as a quick stopgap measure (2) design AT LEAST ONE truly excellent cycle route to show what could be achieved.
Red commuting produces white rage and dead cyclists
I am the enemy you killed, my friend.
I knew you in this dark: for so you frowned
Yesterday through me as you jabbed and killed.
I parried; but my hands were loath and cold.
Let us sleep now…’ (Wildrid Owen Strange Meeting)
Image courtesy jscolman - with added blood See also: Ghostcycle.org
My winter post on White Commuting has led me to the following classification:
- Red Commuter Transport: uses hydrocarbon energy to create air pollution, noise, dust, asthma and road rage
- White Commuter Transport: white rage is what green commuters are driven to when most of the roadspace is allocated to red commuters
- Green Commuter Transport: uses human energy for quiet, health-giving environmentally friendly commuting
Perfect green bicycle commuting in a hot country (Italy)