If the 20th century belonged to the car, the 21st century belongs to the bicycle. More and more people are choosing bikes as their primary mode of transport, and bike share programs have spread across 535 cities in 49 countries (and counting). But will urban forms follow suit? Will cycling change the city?
Dr. Steven Fleming, author of "Cycle Space: Architecture and Urban Design in the Age of the Bicycle," thinks so. As does architect Simon Henley. In an ArchDaily article, Henley explains how the cycling explosion presents a monumental opportunity for planners, designers, and society at large.
Henley finds situational parallels in the work of Joseph Bazalgette, London's chief public works engineer during the 1850s. Back then, the River Thames was both the source of London's drinking water and the repository for its sewage--with disastrous consequences for public health. Bazalgette's solution was to run sewers parallel to the Thames, both north and south of the river, collecting the sewage and ensuring the drinking water that was drawn from the river was clean.
Like that historic feat of engineering, Cycle Space could have an enormous effect on public health. "Cycling offers us, for the first time in more than a century and a half, the chance to build an infrastructure that will bring with it significant public health improvements," writes Henley. "In our auto-centric world, we have unprecedented levels of health problems – obesity, diabetes, etc – all associated with our sedentary lifestyles."
As with Bazelgatte's novel ideas about urban forms, the cycling revolution will be a transformative force in the design of our cities--and the health of people everywhere.
Image: inFORM Studio‘s winning design for the Providence River Pedestrian and Cyclist Bridge in Providence, RI. (via)