“CYCLE-SPACE” LANDSCAPE AS INFRASTRUCTURE
(1) Cyclo-space Maps © Cycle-Space for LOFscapes / (2) Bike-plans. Newcastle Waterway Discovery Loop © Cycle-Space. for LOFscapes / (3) Amsterdam’s Blue Map: to help the city imagine that growth occurring on a bicycle mobility platform © Cycle-Space. for LOFscapes/ 4) Green Map, Friendly streets mapping for cyclists © Cycle-Space. for LOFscapes / (5) Velotopia, Beelines for Bikes © Cycle-Space. for LOFscapes
On July 4, a law was approved that reduces vehicle velocity by 10 km/hr in urban areas. While this measure has caused a stir among those who drive on 4 wheels, for those who ride on 2 wheels, it is seen as a measure to mitigate the effects of the Law of Coexistence of Transport Modes that defines the road as the only circulation space for cyclists. Furthermore, seen from a road and urban design perspective, this could be seen as an opportunity to include the bicycle in urban planning and design.
The reluctance of motorists to embrace the new law reducing velocity within the city limits is not surprising when we consider that cities have grown as a function of 4-wheel vehicles. In fact, at the end of 2017 the number of automobiles in our country reached 4.6 million and emblematic buildings such as the Villa Portales consider the car as part of the structure in its design. Despite our automobile-dependent tradition, the bicycle has repositioned itself as a means of transport with high demand and use in the city. According to a study conducted by the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB), 3% of local trips are made on 2 wheels. In Santiago, this includes 510,569 daily trips by bicycle, 5,137 trips in Valparaíso, 17,191 in Concepcion, and 7,508 trips in Valdivia (1). These numbers are not minor, especially if at the same time we recognize the positive impact on the city, in terms of traffic, social contributions, and the environment.
(1) Cycle inclusion in Latin America and the Caribbean: Guide to promote the use of the bicycle <www.publications.iadb.org>
Based on these benefits, some architects and urban planners in the field of mobility place the bicycle as the best means of transport from a perspective that may seem radical and even utopian to many people. One of the defenders of this premise is the Australian architect and cyclist Steven Fleming, who heads the planning consultancy Cycle-Space, with the aim of investigating, defining and defending bicycle-centered urban development (2). Cycle-Space considers that cities in which cars are the main areas of transport have less efficient transport, high pollution rates, and are generally less healthy. The solution they propose is simply to increase the use of the bicycle. One of the emblematic examples can be found in the Netherlands. In the words of Fleming:
(2) Cycle-space <www.cycle-space.com>
“Amsterdam developed at a low cost during the 20th century with more investment in infrastructure for bicycles than for transit or highways. But from these superficially discouraging circumstances, the capital of innovation was born in Europe. Most of the 800,000 inhabitants of Amsterdam enjoy a fast, healthy and free lifestyle centered on bicycles in the four inner neighborhoods, while on the scale of the Randstad megalopolis (Amsterdam, Rotterdam, etc.), cycling is the axis of a railway network that connects 7 million people. Cycling is a mode that cities can pay for and that provides greater connectivity. And let’s not forget that Amsterdam was not even specifically designed for the bicycle. Much more could be done in growing cities.” (3).
(3) Cycle-space <www.cycle-space.com>
On his website (www.cycle-space.com), Fleming urges reflection on how the bicycle can be a contribution both as a structural axis for urban design by catalyzing real estate development and as a measure for road decongestion, which is economical and sustainable. With Velotopia, Fleming suggests we rethink the city from the scale of the bicycle in which the design of the city, housing, and public spaces is manifested from the needs generated by the use of this means of transport (4). From this perspective, the landscape is seen as infrastructure where the design, dependent on the bicycle, would provide urban, ecological and even psychological benefits.
(4) Cycle-space www.cycle-space.com Velotopia: The Production of Cyclespace in Our Minds and Our Cities, NAIOIO Publisher, 2017
Returning to our national case, although the measure to reduce velocity is friendly for the exclusive use of the roadway [for bicycle usage], reflection must also be directed to how the city and its citizens (motorists, cyclists, and pedestrians) are prepared to recognize the bicycle as part of the transportation system. Furthermore, considering how this recognition is part of a policy of developing an equitable and empathetic road culture is also necessary for the coexistence of all means of transport in the city.
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