April 14 2011

“Bikitecture”- How Architecture and Urban Planning Affects Bicycling

I’m discussing cycling because of my excitement about CicLAvia on April 10th.  A year ago in Amsterdam, I experienced a wonderful self-guided tour where I rented a bike and rode to all corners of the city.

Amsterdam Bikes

Amsterdam: March 2010

In Xi’an, China, I also rented a bicycle because the ancient city wall had recently been adapted for pedestrian use, allowing tourists to see an elevated view of the city as they bike the 7-mile perimeter.

China Bike Route

Xi’an: February 2010

I only wish my daily bicycle commute through downtown Los Angeles was as enjoyable.

Fortunately, CicLAvia is an event that allows thousands of cyclists to enjoy car-free streets and it will occur on three Sundays this year. I heard about the first event through word-of-mouth, but in the last month I’ve noticed an increase in CicLAvia’s social media presence on their WordPress site, but especially Twitter since hundreds of tweets are promoting the event each day.  Considering this advertisement, I wouldn’t be surprised if the numbers for April 10th’s event nears 200,000 which is double the first time they held the event.

I wholly support the event as well as the recent passing of a new bike plan for Los Angeles however; the city has a long way to go before the streets are bike-friendly.  The new bike plan incorporates more bike paths and less car lanes, but I don’t believe bicycle tolerance is confined to just the streets. Los Angeles’ architecture and urban planning of the city also affects cyclists. I’m currently reading Reyner Banham’s groundbreaking book from 1971, “Los Angeles; The Architecture of Four Ecologies.”  One point I found interesting is he said  “The only way to experience Los Angeles is looking out of a car window, since that is how it has been built to be experienced, like it or not.”

What if new architecture was built instead that could be experienced from the seat of a bicycle?

  • Streets could be narrower, slowing down traffic;
  • Buildings could be closer to the street, allowing enjoyment of the architecture;
  • Offices could implement safe bicycle parking for employees.

If these ideas were implemented by the local urban planners, would the city as a whole be more supportive of cycling in its streets?  I believe if cities adopted a building style that considered cyclists, instead of being optimized for cars, this “Bikitecture” would promote safer and friendlier streets for the city.

This entry was posted on Thursday, April 14th, 2011 at 4:49 pm and is filed under Architecture, Urban Planning and Design. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.

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