Vision: What if?

In the last two posts we looked at the pro’s and con’s of cycling as it currently exists in the UK today. In summary, cycling is very good for you, your pocket and the environment but current cycling infrastructure and provision does not encourage or accommodate everyday cycling. Quite the opposite in fact, it puts people off getting on a bike.

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We have a long term problem: our towns and cities have been designed around the motor car. Billions of Great British Pounds are devoted to the vision of cities built around cars, the vision that was sold to the world by people like Le Corbusier, Frank Lloyd Wright and Norman Bel Geddes with his 1939 Futurama. It started with a vision which has been faithfully implemented by planners and politicians, but has resulted in frequently gridlocked traffic choking towns and cities, pouring out pollution, and our urban spaces dominated by corridors of noisy and dangerous traffic.

Of course we need cars and trucks, I’m not suggesting we get rid of them, but what I am saying there is a better way of organising our urban landscapes so that we accommodate people instead of cars.

Today there are new visionaries who are providing us with an alternative. Architects such as Jan Gehl and Bjarke Ingels recognise the motor car is unsustainable and undesirable as the central fulcrum of urban design. Australian architect Steven Fleming, on his excellent and inspiring blog Behooving Moving, describes himself as being on a mission to put cycling on the agendas of architects, urban designers and fellow academics, who see the potential for bicycles to change cities and buildings”. And Toronto architect Chris Hardwicke has a particularly insightful vision of the way forward.

Many cities are beginning to recognise there is a better way to do things, and this usually includes better provision for people to cycle.

As things stand, massive amounts of money have been allocated to the budget for implementing the vision for our roads over the years. But what if, having seen the huge benefits cycling brings, a large part of the transport budget was devoted to implementing the new vision of healthy, sustainable urban transport? What if, instead of integrating the car into all the planning decisions, it was the bicycle that featured in the centre of the planning decisions? And by doing so, as well as the existing cycling benefits of health, wealth and environmental goodness, we could add safety, comfort and convenience?

If all these things were possible, then the answer surely has to be that such a vision is worthy of serious consideration. And that’s what we’re going to do in the next part of this series.

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One Response to Vision: What if?

  1. Pingback: More on the Bike Tube proposal | No Continuing City

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