May 6th, 2010

Red carpet rides for we cyclists

I'm inclined to complain when politicians go on providing car parking in cities, to win drivers' votes. I must remind myself though, that drivers by definition are too lazy and stupid to know what best serves them. More parking just lures them into more gridlock. No wonder they curse us. When they finally get past the jam to their park, they say, "kids remember, orange 5b, orange 5b", and start the mile long walk down concrete tunnels. If they ever reach anything worth seeing, it's in time to collapse, then drag the kids back to find orange 5b has just cost them 25 bucks. How dispiriting!

Meanwhile, the cyclist has been zipping around spaces too vast for walking, too pretty for cars, but just right for cycling. On networks of public space cropping up in post industrial cities all over the world, cyclists are gobbling up pathways, parkways, public art, zoos, markets, outdoor concerts, fountains, fireworks—whatever drivers' taxes can buy. No wonder they curse us! 

The images are of Millennium Park in Chicago, with a bike parking station, a trellis by Frank Gehry made from lugged tubes just like a bike, and a titanium stage, for the amusement of cyclists with Lynskeys. (I note the woman walking her bike on the bridge, is doing so on an unusually busy day. Any other time she would ride, or should I say glide, and the walkers would wish they were her.)

So tell me, who is being left out of the picture? Our cities are spawning networks of green spaces (harbour fronts, high lines, carriage yards turned into parks), for cyclists' consumption, and for confounding poor drivers. Sure, there are black spots for cyclists, but we can choose to avoid those. And sure, we didn't get Copenhagen, with cars slowed down to our speed. We actually got something more playful.