ALL ROADS LEAD TO ROME: PROGRAMMED SELECTION OF DAILY ROUTES
If all roads lead to Rome, which do you choose to reach your destination? In the Cycle Routes of this week, we invite you to reflect on the characteristics and opportunities of the daily routes we make on wheels and that we preferably program on particular streets, avenues, through parks and bike paths.
The expression “all roads lead to Rome” arose during the Roman Empire with the construction of more than 400 routes that connected the capital with the rest of the provinces and towns of the empire. The particularity of those roads was their conception by Roman troops as an empirical construction. Criteria such as the time involved in travelling the distances covered by the route, the difficulty or feasibility of arriving at the destination, and the strategies of combat potentially derived from their routes defined multiple ways to reach the same place, in this case: Rome. In this context, the act of constructing, configuring and programming different paths speaks to us of the certain possibility of defining a system of common and daily routes as a product of our experience within a territory.
In our case, when we need to program a new cycle route, we are faced with infinite possible configurations composed of streets, parks and avenues. With the passage of time, and when these journeys have already become daily, we are not only able to adjust and improve our routes, but we can also recognize the problems and deficiencies that may make them incompatible with our means of transport. Personally, when I plan a cycle route, I analyze factors associated with the presence and connection of bike paths/lanes to my destination, the estimated time of delay, and the state of the route. I also factor in whether the route’s location is on the sidewalk or next to the roadway and what are the possible connections with avenues and streets. When there is no infrastructure for bicycles, the flow and direction of vehicular traffic and the state of the road become primordial factors, indicating for me a “good condition” if those routes do not have major interruptions along the way − and there is a safe space to travel − and a “bad condition” if those routes present constant interruptions, and/or connote a strong sense of insecurity.
Specifically, during the week my tour of the city to my place of work covers 7.5 km between the municipalities of Ñuñoa and Santiago, and from my starting point to the end of my route, I can choose between at least five possible routes. With this in mind and given that in April 2015 the Ministry of Housing and Urbanism published the Manual for the Design and Construction of High Standard Bike Routes, the common point of all my possible journeys is a design of space dedicated to the bicycle either by infrastructure (along bike lanes) or by regulations.
The evaluation of this design can be established almost simultaneously during the route, considering: the permeability of its edges, i.e. the possibility of leaving and/or accessing the route to change direction, the condition of the pavement and the relationship of design with elements of the urban space, such as sewer lids, drainage grids, tree branches, the intersection with public transportation stops and passenger unloading areas, among others. This allows us to reflect on how the design of a bicycle route cannot be reduced to markings on the pavement and the positioning of elements separating the bike path from other transport corridors, but should consider the definition of an intrinsic relationship with the elements that compose and shape the public space.
In this scenario, we propose to start building an individualized system of cycle routes. The design should operate from the experience that as an operational method capable of constructing landscape, it can help us to visualize the potential that the different streets and avenues have to connect existing bikeways and urban sectors. At the same time, cycle routes should be understood as part of a collective configuration within a system of integrated routes for the city.