Cycle-tecture in urban landscapes

A guest post from our Senior Traffic Consultant, Andrew Morse.

Will the bicycle influence our future streetscapes?

It’s not such a strange question when considering how the car influenced not only our streets, but our architecture too.  In fact, according to Dr Steven Fleming, Professor of Architecture at the University of Newcastle, there are architectural influences from many forms of transport, from the oversized railway stations of the Victorian age of steam, to the post modernist UFO-inspired concrete structures of the 70’s.

In the context of the motor age and the development of car parking, this form of land use not only influenced the cosmetic appearance of buildings, but the physical nature of buildings, where parking was prominent and provided colour and animation to otherwise sterile concrete structures.

The point that Dr Fleming makes is that there is no reason to believe that the bicycle can’t evoke a similar response from the architectural world, which tends to represent the leading edge of the shaping of our towns and cities. Le Corbusier was well ahead of the curve with the highway inspired Villa Savoye, 2 decades before highways arrived.

There is already a movement among some architects experimenting with vertical transport through buildings using bikes, and real life examples include the Giant Headquarter Building in Taichung, Taiwan.

Back to the streetscape question, we are already seeing changes in cities all over the world, including incremental changes in Australia’s major cities, through the introduction of dedicated cycle lanes.  However, these are token gestures when we consider the funding, landspace and town planning revolution that catered for the car. In some ways we are trying to wind back to the days when the lowly bike was the dominant form of transport for commuters, and cars were the minority hitting the headlines (in a bad way), much as cycle stories do today.

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