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Walled cities for cyclists

This post follows on from my earlier post, about a "third way" to get cycling happening, in cities that left their run too late, by waiting until mainstream bicycle transport had faded from living memory, before trying, just now, to build some segregated infrastructure. The failures we're seeing suggest it's too late to build segregated bike lanes, without some hitherto unimaginable magic, to open the eyes of the car borne masses. My magical prescription — not blowing my own trumpet at all ;) —  is to densely develop former industrial land lying vacant in our cities, then to use former rail corridors and waterfronts to connect up those brownfields. And I should mention, this parallel city on brownfields, would be walled off to cars.

So here is an image of my city, Newcastle Australia, with the redundant brownfield sites, waters edges and old and existing rail routes highlighted in black. Next is an image of Ancient Athens, when it was a walled city shaped like a dumbbell in plan. The walled road linked the port to the acropolis, the way non-vehicular railtrails and waterfronts could link bicycle oriented developments (BODs) on industrial land earmark for urban renewal. That's all for now. It is Sunday. I will be presenting this idea at the "4th International Urban Design Conference" ten days from now. I'll post a link to the online proceedings when they're available.


Sep. 11th, 2011 10:04 am (UTC)
Hi, great comment. And I think I can answer, to my satisfaction at least. Developers will have an interest, I think, in branding urban renewal zones as bike friendly. We have all that extra money to invest, and we live longer, so accumulate more wealth. Plus we're growing as a demographic via conversion. We really are shaping up to be a demographic sweet spot in the residential market. As for offices, advice I got in Portland, is it is hard to lease office space if at the very least you don't have a secure bike room and showers. That's a trend that I'm guessing will magnify. And sure, I accept, commercial space will need to be within walking distance from car-land... unless maybe the drivers had folding bikes to keep in their car boots. Haven't thought that one through.
Ha ha, I like your next objection. It highlights the fact that I'm being a wee bit polemical. Of course cyclists will sneak out, and delivery vans and emergency vehicles will no doubt will sneak into our hallowed zone. But ideas like this are best explained in black and white terms. I won't lose any sleep when they're diluted.
If you have a minute, what I wrote here about freetown christiania
makes the point that a walled car free zone, can encourage emulation outside the walls. So I'm seeing this as an interim step, to kick start revolutions.
Your last point about selling has lost me, which makes me think I might have a huge gaping blind spot, when it comes to politics. So if there is any more you can say, I would be most grateful. Thanks again, for giving my idea your attention like this. I posted this link on twitter, and was glad others retweeted, precisely because I crave reactions like yours. I've gone to conferences and gotten less feedback!

Edited at 2011-09-11 10:16 am (UTC)
Sep. 12th, 2011 11:08 am (UTC)
My last point wasn't very clear. In fact I'm not sure I understand it myself. Let me try again.

I think I was reacting to your description of the City of Sydney's cycleways as a "failure", when to me they appear to be very promising so far (but we won't be able to judge them for a decade or two). In terms of political strategy it seems to me that concentrating a push for cycleways among a "piety-belt" electorate is a better bet than trying to convince big money property developers to abandon the 98% of the market that demands car access. And aren't there laws (or standards) that mandate shit like car parking? How to get around them?

I'm not saying I don't like your idea, but I am saying it seems less promising politically than the idea you brand a failure.
Sep. 12th, 2011 11:40 am (UTC)
Okay, I get you now. In fairness, Sydney's bike paths are great, the city needs hundreds more quick, and the RTA should hurry up and be disbanded.
Okay, I concede, keen cyclists, right now, are about 2% of the market. But double oil prices and the entire populations of the exburbs would want to live inside these metaphorical walls I'm describing.
Laws about parking vary from city to city. Basically, only retarded populations like those in my city, Newcastle, and maybe Detroit, elect councils who insist on car parking for all new developments. The cities we tend admire, and would like to go to for holidays or to work, set "maximum" parking quotas, not minimum ones. Anyway, I'm working on a longer post, the basis of a talk I'll be taking on the road about this, that I hope to post in a few days. Thanks again!


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