The visual impact of Renzo Piano's Shard on the landscape and skyline of the River Thames

Is the visual impact of Europe's tallest building on London's skyline good or bad?

Does The Shard have a positive or negative visual impact on this view of London’s river skyline ? The above photos are 180° panoramic views from Southwark Bridge and little spiky building in front of The Shard is Southwark Cathedral (unlike St Paul’s, it is not connected). Camillo Sitte said the ratio of  height:width of a city square should range between 1:1 and 1:2. Is this relevant to buildings near London’s river? The Shard is 306m high and the Thames at London Bridge 265 metres wide. This gives us a ratio of  1:1.5. The Shard is  150m from the river. Sitte wrote that “We find…that the height of its principal building, taken once, can be declared to be roughly the minimum dimension for a plaza, the absolute maximum that still gives a good effect being the double of that height – provided that the general shape of the building, its purpose, and its detailing do not permit exceptional dimensions.”

33 thoughts on “The visual impact of Renzo Piano's Shard on the landscape and skyline of the River Thames

  1. Christine

    Yes in the view given the Shard does have a positive visual impact on London’s skyline. The surrounding landscape and cityscape features as you say are very relevant to the appropriateness of a buildings form.

    It is one of the reason why skyscrapers are successful on the gold coast skyline. They run in a strip parallel to the Pacific Ocean.
    [ ]

    So as a general rule, intuition tells me, buildings along the Thames as a rule of thumb should be lowrise given the significance of the existing heritage buildings with an occasion building being able to be the exception to this rule if carefully sited and sensitively designed in the context. Ratios as a rule of thumb or a guide could also be useful – but caution is needed as all the best architects known how to break all the best rules in their best work! This is the delightful thing about design.

    It would seem to be best if the architect had the responsibility of demonstrating that their building has a positive impact on the skyline rather than there being an existing development right.

    My remarks are qualified because a more thorough study of the issue would be required before it would be possible for me to make these statements with any more assurance.

    One of the best critiques of the impact of an object on the landscape vista was to question whether it was appropriate that it become a mid-point foci within a important axis between two highly significant terminal points. They were right that it wasn’t. This was not a question of the quality of the design as a single object, but rather its placement and impact within the overall city design.

    The composition of the London skyline is much more complex. It would be interesting to rate skylines in terms of the degree of visual complexity to demonstrate that all skyline compositional problems are not alike!

    1. Tom Turner Post author

      Both school teachers and employers have told me (not too often!) that ‘rules are made to be broken’. But they did not like it when I took their advice.
      Skyscrapers can work well as solitary objects and in groups. (Sydney appears to have grouped its high buildings). Was this a matter of aesthetic policy or commercial happenstance? London knows how to attain the worst of both worlds. With a few exceptions, they are distributed in what the House of Commons report on Tall Buildings described as ‘pepper pots’ or, as I put it ‘like a poor old tired horse with large gaps between the rotting teeth’.
      I agree that the responsibility rests with the architect – but they should exercise this responsibility in consultation with others. The ‘others’ should include the designers of other current projects, experts in other disciplines and representatives of the public (‘city mothers and city fathers’). Too much consultation has its risks but this is something which has to be managed. Rafael Viñoly, the architect of the Walkie Talkie, blames others for the design errors that led to people being able to fry eggs on the pavement. But since he had exactly the same problem with a previous building I find this unconvincing. Mea culpa would have been a better response. Some folk are now calling it the Walkie Scorchie. Others call it 20 Fenchurch Street!

  2. Christine

    I am in favour of the Walkie Talkie Scorchie label as it will be a great reminder for all architects and facade engineers to watch out for this particular problem. (If the architect was the co-ordinating consultant they definitely can’t dodge responsibility.)

    A similar problem with reflectance – but not quite as severe – was caused in Brisbane (a sub-tropical city) by their glass facaded buildings. The regulations were changed so that it was not possible to build an all glass facade. [ ]

    It may be in the instance of the walkie talkie scorchie that it was the concave shape that helped contribute to the problem?

    The situation in Sydney is a function of the ‘map’ or street development of the central city area. [ ] The CBD runs between the Harbour and Circular Quay and the Central Railway Station. This is the harbour end of the CBD area. So history and commercial happenstance is perhaps the best explanation.

    I am not sure my description of London’s highrise’s would be quite as unflattering as yours. But it is always good to experience something as someelse does…so I am booking a London tour of the highrises with you on my next London visit!

    Yes rules are made to be broken. BUT you need to know how to break them successfully. ie another teacher once said enigmatically ‘we don’t know what we want but we will know when we see it!’ (as a description of what a successful design project would be).

    1. Tom Turner Post author

      The concave shape was the whole cause of the problem with the Scorchie. Even with global warming doing what politicians say it is doing, one would not describe London’s climate as sub-tropical. It would in fact be a great idea to have a concave building reflecting heat and light into an otherwise cold and dark public space – though I would rather have some controls on the reflection for use in periods of hot weather.
      Interesting about the Sydney plan and its continuing influence. if it was not such a long way I would enjoy a walk round Sydney with you. I often think that the more constraints there are the better the job you get from designers of all shades. It makes them work in the real world instead of an blank sheets of paper. This is particularly true of architects.
      Here is a drawing of the Tower of London and its surroundings almost 500 years
      It will surely change as much in the next 500 years. But should these changes just be allowed to happen or should they be guided by urban design. As Hamlet remarked THAT IS THE QUESTION.

  3. Christine

    Thanky you for including the drawing? Do any of the walls in London still exist? It would be interesting to colour in all the features in the drawing that still exist including the street patterning.

    Yes, if London changes as much in the next 500 years it will be truly remarkable.

    It would also be interesting to see the changes in the past 500 years in 100 year increments to get a sense of the shape, speed and direction of the changes in the past. This might also be good for assisting with understanding the positive and negative developments and for pinpointing particular crucial turning points in the city’s development and their genesis.

    The changes should definitely be guided, but there is also need for flexibility as the zeitgeist always throws up something interesting which can’t necessarily be anticipated. One of the reports noted London’s adaptability as one of its key strengths.

    1. Tom Turner Post author

      Yes, substantial sections of London’s Roman/medieval walls survive.
      The words garden and town have overlapping etymologies and the OED defines the primary meaning of town as ‘An enclosed place or piece of ground, an enclosure; a field, garden, yard, court. Obs.(Cf. also the Old English compounds tûn-cressa garden cress, tún-melde, Atriplex hortensis; æppel-tún apple orchard, cyric-tún churchyard, déor-tún deer-park, gærs-tún meadow, líc-tún graveyard, wyrt-tún vegetable garden.)’ and the Dutch work tuin (pronunciation similar to ‘town’) means ‘garden’.
      Anyway, I think there is and should be a relationship between garden design and town design. You can design lots of gardens in a lifetime but not very many towns. And working with gardens gives you an idea of how things change and grow – and can look good all the time this is happening, if they are well managed. This is what should happen to cities. Some garden plants grow very big.

  4. Christine

    Great to see that sections of the wall survive. It is now on my must see list as it is not something that was occupying my mind when in London.

    Yes, there is definitely a relationship between garden design and town design as the eduacation of Walter Burley Griffin demonstrates eloquently. And, yes things do need to change and grow -“and look good all the time this is happening”.

    From the idea of the promenade:

    It is interesting to note how the approach to buildings influences views. For example, 1) a new building foregrounded against another building or a new building 2) backgrounding against another building.

    The angle of approach (straight, curved, on the diagonal etc) and whether the view is a long view (as in an avenue) or a view that is suddenly revealed (as in a garden room) are all important.

    1. Tom Turner Post author

      The juxtaposition of new and old buildings is an attractive feature of the City and one can make a case for (1) all old (2) all new (3) mixed old and new.

  5. Christine

    My comment referred to more than the juxtaposition of old and new – which it is true is an attractive feature of the city of London – part of what makes it exciting and dynamic in a way that Venice is not. (For the sake of Venetians, the water city of Venice is romantic, evocative and luxuriant).

    For example, the juxtaposition of the Walkie Talkie Scorchie against Lloyds of London and the Gerkin are important considerations where the background and foreground relationship would have benefited from consideration. (If there is any doubt of the iconic value of the Gerkin for London watch the opening credits of ‘The Bill’.)

    The Tower of London, however, is world heritage listed, so there should be an assumption that the relationship of any building (in the foreground and background) to the tower is important for ensuring that the world heritage values that underpin its listing are preserved.

    At a similar level of global concern for architectural merit are the pritzker prize winning Sainsburys wing of the National Gallery by Robert Venturi, the Millenium bridge by Norman Foster, the Tate Modern by Herzog and Meuron and Lloyds of London by Richard Rogers.

    The Edinburgh view study was interesting reading. A description of the landscape setting of the city would be beneficial as would a description of the historical development of the built city within the landscape setting.

    The study also noted that there were development pressures on the city which led to the city commissioning the study, but it didn’t elaborate on what those pressures were other than perhaps the city was receiving increasing numbers of applications for buildings of a greater height.

    The London studies were more informative on what they believed was driving the demand, even if in the Parliamentary report there was some scepticism expressed about the lack of empirical evidence to back up claims for the demand being reported.

    1. Tom Turner Post author

      I expect we have many Venetian readers and, while I share your wish not to give offense, wish they had fewer tourists in their city and that they would permit considerate cyclists to use those streets which have space for them.
      The City of London has a sophisticated policy with regard to ‘tall buildings’ and ‘skylines’. See City of London Tall Buildings Evidence Paper.pdf . It looks to history & heritage by aiming to protect viewshed corridors around St Paul’s Cathedral and the Tower of London. AND it looks forward by suggesting the formation of two ‘clusters’ of tall buildings. They are called the North Cluster and the East Cluster. The centerpiece of the East Cluster was to be the Pinnacle Building. Scroll down to the skyline view: I think it would improve the present skyline. They put in the foundations and then work stopped for financial reasons. If completed, I would call it the Ziggurat. It says something that, although 90% owned by the Saudis the project ran out of money.
      While congratulating the City on its unusually well-balanced regard for the Past and the Future I think both should be treated more imaginatively. This would be difficult in an official report but it would be a great thing to invite ideas from individuals who could be given the freedom to think the unthinkable. The City Corporation could organise a competition for this, or could to it – or I’d be happy to have a bash myself on a wet Saturday afternoon.

  6. Christine

    Yes, a Gardenvisit competition is always a good idea. Best to build on paper first!

    Reading the reports it struck me that there is an opportunity to do a garden inspired London Highline with the incomplete podium highwalk projects from the 1960s and 1970s. [ ]

    This is not a call to go back to this philosophy (although it [did/does] work well in the very differnt city of Hong Kong despite the current critique)- but to rethink the pedestrian infrastructure and opportunity that already exists in London.

    1. Tom Turner Post author

      London has many locations well-suited to Highline-type projects but they would be expensive. My favourite is the Tom Heatherwick/Johanna Lumley proposal for a Garden Bridge over the Thames. See this link and scroll down to find a link to the images
      Thank you for a very interesting link re podium development in Hong kong. The ideas from the Buchanan Report made little headway in the UK but appear to have been adopted elsewhere: the podium in HK and the idea of ring-roads encircling pedestrianised town centres in Germany. It probably pays to be a second mover when it comes to urban design, or maybe third mover. The idea of urban squares began in Italy and moved to France and reached its apogee in London.

  7. Christine

    Hmmm. In Australia they tend to cut down (or even poison) trees if they get in the way of water views, so it is a little difficult for me imagining someone planting a garden and obscuring views of the Thames!

    I am wondering why highline type projects would be expensive if existing 1960s-1970s infrastructure was used?
    [ ] and [ ]

    This seems to be the context inside the semi-circular plaza? [ ]

    Best views of the Shard seem to be in silhouette.[ ]

    The Buchanan Report seems to have shown great foresight in many respects ie in realising that accommodating cars would compromise the rich built heritage of the cities, create congestion and environmental problems.

    1. Tom Turner Post author

      The Barbican was a very expensive project and nearly bankrupted everyone involved. It would probably not have been built but for the political idea of getting voters into the City.
      I have looked at the Shard from lots of different near and far positions and my guess is that the judgement of history will be that ‘London allowed some awful buildings in the naughties but also some loved additions to the skyline, like the Shard’. It is too soon for this to be my opinion but I can sense it coming on!
      The Buchanan Report worked out very well in Germany but not so well in England. Examples which come to mind are Aylesbury, Ashford and Canterbury. Keeping the cars out of the city centres was 100% good but the design of the ring roads was 100% ghastly. Birmingham is another example – the Inner Ring Road was so grim that a later generation of planners pretty well destroyed it by cutting it into segments. I was working in Birmingham at the time it was being built. I do not think I could have done a better plan then, because I saw a road as a road, but with the benefit of hindsight I would have recommended a much more traffic calmed/shared space type street with vehicles unable to go faster than 20 mph, great permeability for pedestrians and cyclists, and masses and masses of trees.

    2. Tom Turner Post author

      Of the City’s three recent Towers I think Piano has done best (by far) then Rogers (with the Cheesgrater) and then Vignoly’s Walkie Talkie (very much the worst in contextual terms). I have seen the Shard from a great many viewpoints (as is unavoidable) and it is almost always good. The exception is this is the view from River Thames. It then becomes the background to Fosters’ design for More London. All the buildings are new and glassy but they do not harmonize. A cynic (me) might wonder if the two famous architects love each other like a pack of dogs trying to seduce one bitch. Except it is not a bitch: it is Old Father Thames. I will add a photo to the post to show what I mean.

  8. Christine

    Ok, time for me to do some research on ringroads. [ ] They seemed to have had a long gestation in Sydney. Perhaps the time frame from conception to their realisation makes a difference?

    Ring roads still seem to be popular in Australia. [ ]

    What made the Birmingham ring road so grim?

    Here is a photo of the Shard, the Cheesegrater, the Walkie Talkie Scorchie and the Gherkin as a harmonising as a group! [ ]

    1. Tom Turner Post author

      Ring roads are useful and protect residents from traffic. The problem with Birmingham’s Inner Ring Road was that it was tightly drawn and over-engineered. This gave the city centre something of the character of an island in a race track. There were pedestrian subways under the race track but they were dark and gloomy with an not-infrequent stench of urine. Here is the history of the roads construction and (partial) deconstruction .
      I have added a photo to the blog post showing the view of the Shard from the River Thames. It is possible that additional construction could resolve the problem and, if so, I can see this solution having more appeal than deconstruction of their the backrgound (the Shard by Piano) or the foreground (More London by Fosters). The similarity of the glazing imparts a kind of harmony to the group.

  9. Christine

    Thankyou that explains the ring road situation more succinctly. Here they still favour the outer ring road and bypasses as macro traffic solutions.

    They tend to engineer links which are underground and above ground solutions to get traffic quickly from one side of the city to say the airport without entering the CBD. [ ] This is the airport end. [ ]. This is the inner city end.

    Actually, the view could be improved by some visual relief from the all glass group. I am advocating for some trees! (Particularly to the left and right of the More Bldg). There are some there – but they are not quite strong enough as a visual element.

    1. Tom Turner Post author

      Interesting views of the roads. It would be difficult to build like that in England because the anti-road lobby is so strong – and it fits well with the government’s reluctance to spend money! In Holland, (which in many ways but definitely not in all ways, is the most similar country to England in Continental Europe) they are much more willing to spend money on roads. But, compared to the Brisbane examples, they spend much more money on Environmental Noise Barriers. Are they used where big roads pass through residential areas in Brisbane?
      There are some trees in More London and some of them, though bright green do not seem to be growing very well
      I think ‘all glass’ works well by the river, picking up reflections from water and sky, and the consistent use of a material could do much to harmonize the shapes of funky buildings (like City Hall). More London was a large area in the design control of a single, good, firm: Fosters. I to not think they have coordinated the architecture as well as they should have done (Nash was very much better at this) but it is OK and much better than most other riverside conjunctions.

  10. Christine

    The second photograph of the inner city end is as close to the residential end as it gets. There are some high-rise apartments at Milton.

    More on this soon…

    Of course, the relative city scales – and hence the volumes of traffic – of Brisbane and London are in no way comparable. Brisbane is similar in population to Amsterdam – but in no way similar as a city type.

    So the differences of problem definition are as important to keep in mind as the similarities of strategy.

    Wonderful tree. It is one of my very favourite pieces of contemporary public art – and its setting is perfect! (Please don’t change a thing about this.)

    Yes, all glass does work well by the river, giving not only the property of reflectance but also giving the property of transparency. This enables the potential of views through from the street to the river beyond depending on how the interior space is treated at ground level.

    1. Tom Turner Post author

      Is Brisbane more like an American city with a high density CBD, low density suburbs and a predominance of car commuting?
      I have mixed thoughts about the plastic tree. The negative is that they never should have made such a useless and ugly bit of outdoor space. The positive is that it is a an imaginative response to the existence of such a space.
      ‘Cities of glass’ are a fascinating prospect with good and bad aspects – and a great need for pre-planning (ie as composites instead of merely as objects).

  11. Christine

    Yes, Brisbane does have a high density CBD, low density suburbs and a predominance of car commuting.

    However, it is also a very pretty city and has one of the prettiest skyline I am aware of. This is because of its serpentine river setting, the predominance of hills and tropical greenery which characterise the suburbs, and its proximity to mountains including close the vantage point of Mount Cootha.

    It also has the largest council outside Paris. This has enabled a strong planning culture to predominate in the city and a strong more equal relationship with the State Government. So in recent times it has completed considerable integrated transport projects, which short of giving it an underground system to rival London, make it very well serviced by public transport. As a cyclist you would find it a dream city.

    The tree is a brilliant comment on its setting – a lovely piece of humour – and stylistically in keeping with its surrounds. Of course, if it were to become part of a plastic urban forest, I am sure my feelings about it would be mixed too!

    Well yes, perhaps a whole city of glass wouldn’t be appropriate except in the very rare location. But you are right, urban design, is much more about the composite than the object.

    1. Tom Turner Post author

      Do you know what percentage of journeys are made by bike in Brisbane? Are people doing the whole journey to work by bike or are they integrating bike journeys with public transport?
      I find the London figures curious. Wiki states Transport for London reported a 150% increase from 2000 to 2011, and it varies between regions within the city, for example on Cheapside cycles were reported to make up over half of rush-hour traffic.’ Yet ‘In 2008 around 2 per cent of all journeys in London were by bike: this compares to other cities in the United Kingdom such as Cardiff (4.3 per cent), York (18 per cent) and Cambridge (28 per cent of commutes) and to cities on the continent such as Berlin (13 per cent), Munich (15 per cent), Copenhagen (23 per cent of all journeys / 36 per cent of commutes), Amsterdam (37 per cent of all journeys)[9] and Groningen (57 per cent of all journeys)’. My impression is that since I began cycling in London (1973) the number of cyclists has increased enormously and the 2% of all journeys figure does not ‘feel’ right. I think the explanation must be that cycle use varies sharply across London. In the City it is very high – bankers and lawyers have taken to it fish to a pond.

  12. Christine

    It isn’t so easy to find statistics on cycling habits in Brisbane. However, it would be good if this became a serious object of research – and if gender differences were taken into consideration. [ ]

    Cycling research also needs to be differentiated by city.

    Is Brisbane doing more or less well than other Australian cities with its cycling infrastructure? Are the main users recreational or commuters? etc etc
    [ ]

    1. Tom Turner Post author

      I have not seen a gender analysis of London cycling and it could be that the collection of such data would be regarded as sexist and divisive. But from observation I would guess the ratio is about 2:1 male:female. Here is a photo and a comment on London cycling from a female journalist on the Economist. The press is well-worked-up on the issue and politicians have got to thinking that ‘something must be done’. There is a wonderful militancy among cyclists, to which I am only too happy to contribute. It is the nearest I have come to drawing a sword or going sans coulottes to help the female cyclists who are helping the male cyclists to man the barricades. ‘It is better to die on your wheels than live on your knees’. We all think we are an oppressed minority fighting for our civil rights and our lives. Please tell any Australian cyclists you meet that this is the ONLY way to get justice for cyclists and that London is now the front line in the world fight against car supremacy. Future generations will look back on this period as Wordsworth looked back on the romance of Paris. He visited the city in 1790 on the first anniversary of the Fall of the Bastille:
      Oh! pleasant exercise of hope and joy!
      For mighty were the auxiliars which then stood
      Upon our side, we who were strong in love!
      Bliss was it in that dawn to be alive,
      But to be young was very heaven!–Oh! times,
      In which the meagre, stale, forbidding ways
      Of custom, law, and statute, took at once
      The attraction of a country in romance!
      When Reason seemed the most to assert her rights,
      When most intent on making of herself
      A prime Enchantress–to assist the work,
      Which then was going forward in her name!
      Not favoured spots alone, but the whole earth,
      The beauty wore of promise, that which sets
      (As at some moment might not be unfelt
      Among the bowers of paradise itself)
      The budding rose above the rose full blown.
      What temper at the prospect did not wake
      To happiness unthought of? The inert
      Were roused, and lively natures rapt away!

  13. Christine

    My guess is that young male and female students would have virtually identical cycling type needs. Perhaps this would also be true for young professionals. But when the family comes along – this is where ‘the rubber hits the road’ so to speak.

    How is child care accommodated within the cycling culture? Who does what, when and why?

    I am also wondering whether there is a gender difference in the recreational/commuter cycling community?

    Is there a dedicated cycle tourism industry? Is it adventure cycling or family cycling holidays?

    Are these statistics different in different countries and why? There may be gender barriers to raising cycling rates which are practical or perceptual.

    Yes, it would be good to see female cyclists and male cyclist unite, (with or without coullottes and sword) to advance the issues surrounding cycling, including the health and safety ones.

    1. Tom Turner Post author

      I think it was the Germans who solved the problem of how to take kids to school by bike. They use cycle trailers. I agree there is no difference between male and female cycling needs. The reason for more men cycle-commuting could be that they enjoy the slightly-macho aspect of cycling in London. Japanese cyclists are MUCH more civilized than British cyclists.
      Until about 15 years ago (and still, I think, in southern Europe) French cycling was a primarily a recreation and a sport. Paris is now doing more than London to provide for cycle commuting. In London I notice lots of cars heading out with bikes on the back for weekend rides.

  14. Christine

    It would seem that the man hasn’t combined ‘taking the dog for a walk’ with his working day [ any more than this lady has combined collecting the children from school and doing the shopping with her working day. [ ] Or perhaps I am mistaken and it is casual clothes Friday?

    Are you good at picking the time of day in photographs? [ ] If it is the morning in Brisbane they are probably cycling to the University of Queensland, however if it is the evening they probably cycling home from work in the CBD.

    This brave man in the cooler clime of Melbourne is definitely riding to work.
    [×0.jpg ] At a guess, it is probably spring or autumn. In summer he would not be looking so crisp, while in winter he would be too cold in shirt sleeves.

    Sydney’s commuter culture looks predominantly male – with a spattering of business dress and cycle wear. [×349.jpg ] What informs this choice of attire? Is it shower and wardrobe facilities at the workplace? Or is it a distinction between cycling for exercise and cycling for transport?

    1. Tom Turner Post author

      I was slow vacating a lecture room a few weeks ago and discovered that the next lecture was about the ‘sociology of sport’. Perhaps I should have stayed to listen. My first thought was that it must be a ‘non-subject’. The sociology of cycling sounds a much more important topic and your choice of photographs are enough to get it launched. Maybe enough to launch whole university departments devoted to the subject. True to the origins of sociology there would have to be a Marxist emphasis – a thorough grounding in the analysis of social classes. My guess is that cycling began as relatively upper-class activity, then became a lower-class activity and is now resurgent as an activity favoured by young professionals. This analysis is unlikely to apply to Islamic countries. Many of them ban female cycling because men get over-excited if they see too much of female ankles and I doubt if young professionals in Islamic countries cycle.
      Lovely pics of dogs and kids in cycle trailers. Both are admirable – but do they show the human race as fundamentally crazy? t is hard for me to say why but the Brisbane photo shouts ‘morning’ at me. Great to see so many cyclists in Sydney. If the street was busier and the scene a little more chaotic (and fewer cyclists) I would have guessed it was a photo of London. Could it be that 90% of the 1% of Australians who commute by bike live in Sydney?

  15. Christine

    Yes it is an interesting question: are the cyclists participating in a sport? What about motorists? (Perhaps only the ones on the stretch of road in the Northern Territory without speed limits?) Are walkers all budding Olympians determined not to lift their heels off the pavement?

    Does the distinction depend on you looking the part in Lycra? (Well yes Islamic countries are making a slow entry into the Olympics and are being challenged by the restrictions of female dress codes)

    Looking again at the photograph of Brisbane you are probably right that they are riding to the university.

    My guess is that commuting by bike in Sydney is much more difficult than in Melbourne and Brisbane. Brisbane has very bike friendly public transport as well as good bicycle paths. Melbourne is much flatter with the advantage of wide streets and a grid (although the trams are an added risk for cyclists to dodge). It seems some statistic research is in order to answer your question…

    1. Tom Turner Post author

      Can you tell me more about the ‘stretch of road in the Northern Territory without speed limits’. I wish I had known about it when calling for such a thing in a book about 15 years ago – my suggestion was that it should be in Russia. It is not that I like fast driving (far from it) but I know that many people do and the liberal in me thinks they should have their opportunities – just as I think the smokers I hated when they fumigated me in meetings should have good accommodation outside buildings. It is wrong to make them cower in wet doorways like tramps.
      Re sport the OED identifies 1 ‘Senses relating to play, pleasure, or entertainment’.
      (a). Diversion, entertainment, fun. Freq. with modifying adjective (as good, great, etc.). in Warning (1985) ii. 24
      (b). Success, pleasure, or recreation derived from or afforded by an activity, originally and esp. hunting, shooting, or fishing. Freq. with adjectives expressing the level of success.
      (c). Lovemaking, amorous play; (also) sexual intercourse; an instance of this, an amorous exploit. Obs.In later use freq. punning on sense 1b.
      I think we can pretty well rule out (c), though I do wonder why people wear Lycra, and I think that though there are aspects of (a) and (b) to cycle commuting, the main objective is ‘getting from A to B as quickly and cheaply as possible. But I also think cyclists enjoy their commuting more than those who use motorized vehicles. There is no competitive aspect to my own cycle commuting but I love it and feel the worse on those few days I have to drive a car to work. I also feel a bit for sorry for my car because it does not get enough exercise!
      In Denmark and Holland, and to a very much lesser extent in England, people cycle from their homes to railway stations and then complete longer journeys by train. Do you see large cycle parks by suburban stations in Australia?

  16. Christine

    Should we include the idea commuting with the added benefit of fitness? Afterall, even the fastest motorcar can not add to your level of fitness (although memory tells me that race car drivers need to be particularly fit to withstand the rigours of competitive racing).

    Here is an article on the NT speed limits. [ ] I am not sure how it would feel to have a road train with no speed limit bearing down on you!

    Your car will be a great buy if you ever decide to sell it! (How is it avoiding the obesity problem or does it get a sensible diet that takes into account its lack of exercise?) There aren’t cycle parks in Australia as far as I am aware. In Brisbane it is more common to cycle a certain distance and then catch the train to complete the journey and what usually happens is the cycle is accomodated on the train with the passenger.

    [ ] It seems if you want to travel in peak times you need a bicycle that folds up.

    1. Tom Turner Post author

      Yes, one should include fitness and health benefits. The World Health Organisation has produced a tool for assessing the Health Economic Assessment Tool (HEAT) for Cycling. The benefits are substantial.
      Interesting that the Northern Territories no speed limit trial is being done to alleviate driver tedium on long journeys. I was thinking more about the pleasure some people take in fast cars and fast driving. The activities involve health risks – but so do most activities and most inactivities.
      The Queensland train/bicycle is similar to the London policy but better expressed. Is the requirement for folding bikes to be in bags as widely ignored in Queensland as it is in London? I do not think I have EVER seen a folding bike in a bag on a London train. In fact the restriction to folding bikes is often treated with a blind eye and this causes annoyance when some officials enforce it. I have only once been told to put my folding bike in a bag and managed to satisfy the man (or rather his boss – I had to call for the manager) by wrapping it in a folding raincoat. This happened at midnight at Heathrow and the prospect of cycling 23 miles in the dark in the rain with my holiday luggage had little appeal.


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