Architecture to encourage cycling

cycletrack San Fernando Street, San José CA

Dr. Steven Fleming works to make bicycles the inspiration for architects that cars were during the twentieth-century. In today’s ArchDaily architecture journal, Fleming discusses 10 ways architects can design for bicycles to move cities forward.

Fleming reminds that New York City was designed for walking when planners began modernizing for the future after World War 2, transforming the city to accommodate cars at the expense of walking. He writes that cities can be densified again to drag our cities “back in time from the 1960s era of driving to the 1860s era of walking.

“But what if it could be dragged forward in time? What if it could display the architectural principles that would accompany a future age of bicycle transport?”

His ten ideas:

  • Make bicycles handy things to use within buildings. So much win with this sentence: “So much bike theft could be prevented if only we realised that bikes aren’t caked in manure.
  • Let the bike be the quickest way to leave home. Instead of hiding the bike in a locked cage at sub-basement level three, how about biking fdown a ramp from the front door to the cycletrack?
  • Weather protection. I know we’re all hard core and supposed to “HTFU,” but we need more to help get beyond the 6% bike modal share that even America’s bike-friendlist cities can manage.
  • Sculpt the terrain to control cyclists’ speed. Here’s an interesting idea: “At any place where bikes should slow down, like a cross-road or activity node, riders can be saved the hassle of braking if … we raise the ground at those points by one or two meters. People on bikes will slow as they rise, then regain their speed as they dip away.
  • Make peace between bikes and pedestrians.Consider this,” writes Fleming. “Cobbles are fine under foot but are awful to ride on.” These needs a little additional thought: cobbles may hinder those with mobility aids, but I like the direction Fleming takes with this.
  • Appreciate cyclists’ cognitive maps of their cities. Fleming says architects should design areas with cycling in mind beyond the minimal accommodations made these days.
  • Cycling Dissolves the mobility/access dichotomy.
  • Dispersal of shops enables urban planners to disperse commercial areas for more “passive surveillance” to help eliminate dark and scary back alleys.
  • The mogul-field concept. Blurring the lines between interior and exterior spaces with bike access allows for three-dimensional design.
  • Provoke with proposals. The Futurama exhibit at the 1939 World Fair provoked new thinking about how new architecture can boost the age of the automobile. Fleming encourages today’s architects to shoot for the moon with provocative proposals of their own that integrate cycling with the built space.

I’ve given just the barest summary. There’s much more interesting stuff at ArchDaily: 10 Points of a Bicycling Architecture. H/T to Wes the bicycling architect.

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