August 25th, 2011

The third way

A century ago, in every city, there were two cities. The first to be built had put everyones' attention on the banks of the waterways, on the rail lines, and on the industrial sites. Around these, cottages had clustered, where workers could live. By the mid twentieth-century though, the residential zones had all swollen, and become most peoples focus. And by the 1980s, industry was falling into decline. Driving about in the residential and commercial zones in their cars, in 2011, most people have little idea the industrial zones even exist. They would be aghast to learn how much land these comprise, most poorly utilized.

Figure/Ground studies of Newcastle, Australia, revealing declining industrial tracts ready for converting into a parallel city, from which cars will be banished.

The cyclists know though. To avoid cars, they have been using this land for decades. They know all the short cuts, safe routes, rail trails, and paths beside storm water canals. And now one of them, me, has the ripping idea of densely developing all of these tracts to create neighboring cities, with schools, apartments, shops, new workplaces, everything. These new cities will be intertwined with the car cities that the drivers all know, but each kind of city will never quite touch. The new, parallel, alter-cities, will be entirely invested in cycling as their mode of transport. Oh, and they will have their own local governments. Best of all, they will lay to bed that losing struggle for cyclists' rights to the road, and the other losing struggle, for segregated bicycle infrastructure in cities where most voters can't see the point. The new cities in question, will themselves be bicycling infrastructure, not shared, or segregated, but of a new "separatist" kind.
And my little snow peas, that is the essence of my third-way of increasing the bike share, not by letting most people cycle some of the time, as though cycling is just some feel-good, fair-weather adjunct to lives otherwise dependent on cars. No, the making of these cities will allow those of us who actually care about cycling (and maybe our health and the planet's) to cycle all of the time, in a city built especially for us.

Okay, that was the sales pitch. Please, help me face my own nagging doubts, by leaving a comment. We'll call it "peer review", social media style.