Welcome to our new series: This Week In Bike Culture! In this weekly update, I’ll be posting about various newspaper articles, blogs, and other miscellaneous projects that titillate the Bicycle Program at the Department of Transportation. We hope they interest you as much as they interested us.
Our first posting we found from Huffington Post, and is a series of pictures where abandoned bikes have been redone into street-art projects. Re-purposing an eye-sore into an object of beauty, this anonymous artist deserves a tip of the hat! Our favorite picture is included in the masthead, but if you’d like to see more click here.
This a great article discussing the “anti-car” policy that many European city planners have adopted, restricting or eliminating traffic flow in downtown areas, increasing automobile and fuel taxes, introducing congestion charges, and enacting various other measures which make driving automobiles less attractive and convenient. The idea is to use these charges and taxes to increase public transportation and bike infrastructure, and to drive frustrated automobile owners into these increasingly more robust systems. While this would probably get many Americans up in arms, it’s a necessary step towards sustainability.
This is a really interesting piece comparing Modernist urban planning with “New Urbanism,” a sect of urban planning that stresses sustainability and the importance of “place.” Essentially, Modernist urban planning emphasized functionalist zoning and a heavy reliance on automobiles to get you to and from these “zones.” As a result, cities have residential districts, meat-packing districts, theater districts, and the like and there was little “planning” beyond these zones. As a result, our cities lacked mixed use planning and became monotonous car-dominated urban forms. If you want a brief background on urban planning history and it’s affect on bike infrastructure this is the perfect article for you!
The Bamboo Bike Project is a great non-profit organization providing Africans with a sustainable, cheap, and most importantly practical form of transportation. The bike frame is fabricated from local shoots of bamboo, and put together with imported parts from China or India. This is much cheaper for locals, and provides bike shop owners with a “sustainable micro-business.” This is a really exciting project, we hope you feel the same.
New York Governor Cuomo just signed the “Complete Streets” bill into law, requiring that all new projects include measures to guide and protect pedestrians, bicyclists, and car drivers. The bill is nicknamed “Brittany’s Bill” in honor of a 14 year old bicyclist who was tragically killed at a dangerous intersection. Her mother commented that she is “overjoyed by the knowledge of the impending signing of Complete Streets. I know Brittany is looking over us thinking it’s wonderful that we are helping other families keep their loved ones safe from these busy, congested, dangerous streets.” We hope that Los Angeles can also help to honor Brittany’s memory.
In a great post from Streetsblog, contributing writer Jan Gehl outlines the numerous benefits of the bike system in Copenhagen, which he helped plan and implement. He outlines the Copenhagen bike network, and its paramount role in the Danish transportation scheme as a whole. If you enjoyed the article, his book “Cities for People” has many more examples. Also be sure to check out the “MyFigueroa” project which his firm Gehl Architects designed.
I’ll leave you with this movie that I stumbled onto earlier this week called “Contested Streets: Breaking New York City Gridlock.” Although a tad outdated, this is a great documentary about the bicycle’s role in New York City’s transportation future. It talks about the development of NYC’s auto centric approach, and then moves to European cities like Copenhagen, Paris, and London to see where the city should go next. The hour long movie is definitely worth your time, it features interviews from many prominent urban planners and includes a tour of Copenhagen lead by Jan Gehl! Save it for the weekend, preferably after a long bike ride!