December 29th, 2010

Modernise that glass tower with a bike ramp around the outside.

Rational architects don't usually go in for ramps. The gentle gradients prescribed by building codes, plus requirements for landings and minimum widths, all make for a huge waste of space, where providing disabled access with a lift, takes no space at all. But surely a ramp for bikes can be much steeper than one for wheelchairs? And something like bike parking, can actually exist on the ramp.

Today's piece of derivative cool-hunting brings you Annie Scheel's winning entry in Delaware Valley Green Building Council's bike parking station design competition for downtown Philadelphia. To reduce the gradient, the ramp hugs the perimeter, where it can be longest. Cladding it in glass means circulating bikes animate the facade to the street.

New external ramps will get riders to their office, and shade all the windows.

Seeing Scheel's design makes me wonder if a regular office block could not fill the atrium. Okay, picture this: post-WW2 office towers having their energy needs reduced through the addition of ramps around the outside. Less energy would be needed to power lifts. Less energy would be needed to power air conditioning. Best of all, seeing the opportunity to ride their bikes all the way to their desks, workers would swap commuting by car, and instead start cycling to work.

I know these ideas may come across as quackery. I offer them only so that the next generation may remember me as the only one of our time who was seeing the future. Thanks kids :)

new years direction

Another year, another existentialist bicyclist meltdown. No local racing this holiday season, for some reason. And darlings, it's hot here in Australia. I have taken to trail riding each night after dark, to avoid sunburn and heatstroke. My werewolf maraudings while the kids are in bed, take me past the night clubs here in the city, then well beyond the officially sanctioned end of the Fernleigh Track, one of the world's truly great rail trails. I keep myself from being bored on my ride by replaying any movie that makes me think of some unmentionable way I might be killed out here, or how those trees might feel if I hit them at this insane speed I have gathered.    

During lazier moments I have been reading the Bike Snob book, and indeed wondering if he's left me anything whatsoever to say. He hasn't left much. Let his be the anthem for cycling in this crazy era we're witnessing. What he doesn't say, and might not agree with, that I have nevertheless said from the start, is that cycling gains prestige and respect by being conspicuously over priced. Hey, I didn't make the world the consumerist mess that Karl Marx predicted. I just say how cyclists can prosper within it. Drivers give you more room on the road if they think you're as financially invested as they are in your choice of wheels. They would also be more likely to think they could pull chicks by becoming a cyclist, if cycling was more widely known to be expensive. Of course, the benefits would trickle down to the budget cyclist as well. It's only the lefties who would miss out if I ran the world, you know, those body painting nudists, who would commandeer cycling for political ends. Bike Snob calls them the righteous cyclists, and rightly points out that they would only abandon us the moment some more righteous mode of transportation happened along.

My interest in cycling's prestige leads naturally to the most conspicuous known form of expenditure, which is architecture. And since no-one else has made this connection, I will continue to look for examples of what I'm calling bicycletecture. Here's one, MVRDV's proposed House of Culture and Movement, where else, but in Denmark. It has some glazed feature wall of some sort, capable of lionizing parked bikes. I'll write more when I've found some better plans and images and can figure out exactly what the big deal is.

So happy new year all. Thanks for reading. I'm a bit worn out by all the neighbours and their music that has gone way past midnight last night, and anyway am spending extra time with my kids, surfing for instance, so I may not be blogging in 52/12 (that means "top gear") for the next couple of weeks. I've left you with the behoovingmoving hit graph for 2010. I'm delighted really, that people are reading this s... .