If bikes took up the space of cars

October 11, 2014 § 1 Comment

Photo courtesy Lets Bike It/VK

Photo courtesy Lets Bike It/VK

As part of International Car Free Day, some Latvian cyclists showed the difference between the amount of space that bikes and cars take up on the road. What an awesome idea! Check here for more details.

Architectural Innovation Driven by Necessity

October 11, 2014 § Leave a comment

A bicycle life: Stockholm style

October 11, 2014 § Leave a comment

Photo by Tom Payne

Photo by Tom Payne

Cykelby #5: Snapped this one on a trip to Stockholm last week.

I wasn’t really sure what to expect in terms of bike culture before arriving in this city. From what I knew, Malmö in the south is one of the most bicycle-friendly cities in the world. But it is also very small, dense and has a high number of students. On the other hand, I was well aware that Stockholm is far bigger and more spread. However, on arrival I felt a bit overwhelmed at how incredibly car-dominated most of the city actually is. While there were sporadic elements of great bicycle infrastructure and what seems to be an embedded (but diluted) engrained cycling culture, I was left a little disappointed with the lack of two-wheeled enthusiasm. I was particularly shocked when a good Stockholm based friend of mine told me that she gets the underground the 2 miles to work each day!

In a sense Stockholm felt like the city was trapped somewhere between an American city of the 70s and a more progressive Scandinavian city of today (eg. Copenhagen). It’ll be interesting to see how the city continues to evolve over the coming few years and whether infrastructure dollars will find their way into more sustainable approaches to street design.

Congratulations LLSB!

September 21, 2014 § Leave a comment

This week we’ve heard the incredible news of the win for the Long Live Southbank campaign.

Just a year ago I wrote the article Are Our greatest Cities Destroying Their Greatest Assets? in support of the skate spot. Careful not naively underplay the complexity of the issue, I explained that the tension that exists over the space spans far beyond what is occurring in London and is deeply interconnected with global processes. I argued that as cities compete with each other, they construct bigger towers, host more events, attract larger investments and market themselves as the greenest, healthiest, most liveable and most global. At the same time, they’re destroying what actually makes them special—the organic spaces that breed creativity and spread culture across the globe.

What spaces like the Southbank Undercroft represent is far more important than what could ever replace them. By razing spaces like them, cities like London lose the very assets that makes them unique.

So psyched on the win for Long Live Southbank campaign.

London Estate

September 20, 2014 § Leave a comment

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Over the past couple of weeks I’ve started compiling a bunch of my photos of housing estates from around London to put into a small book/mag style publication. As a little introduction…

The London housing estate has been represented in all forms and from a range of perspectives throughout its history. Often associated with crime and inequality, it is well-understood that inner city housing estates offer social cohesion and geographic opportunities that suburban living can not.

While their physical form can be dark, frightening and somewhat overwhelming these are much they same attributes as one would relate to the city of London itself. London – on the surface at least – is not a beautiful city. It’s beauty however, lies within its diverse population, networks and opportunities. Much the same as the housing estate. Rather than a place of isolation and desolation as is often portrayed by the mainstream, this short book will be a tribute to London’s housing estates.

By representing them as places of charm and intrigue, we can peel back the layers to show how they are places of immense wealth, beauty and opportunity.

More details soon.

Born & Raised – Toronto, ON

September 20, 2014 § Leave a comment

The problem with London

September 20, 2014 § Leave a comment

Screen Shot 2014-09-20 at 14.10.18

I picked up the Evening Standard this week to see an article titled What I’ve learned from getting on my bike. With a CGI depicting how the incredibly dangerous Blackfriars Bridge could be improved with the implementation of Boris’ new proposals, I carried on reading.

Sadly, rather than expressing appreciation for the proposals, the journalist – Simon Jenkins – showed nothing more than the usual discontent for change. By outlining a list of negative implications that the scheme will have on cars, he is not only perpetuating the ‘us and them’ culture but is helping to further incapacitate the politicians and planners who are trying to progress a somewhat radical but much needed infrastructure project.

About the words, ‘much needed’. I don’t use them lightly. Bashing on about his sympathy for taxi and van drivers, the important fact that Simon has heedlessly neglected is that 14 bike riders were killed on London’s roads last year. 14.

Why did they die? Because of cars and trucks. Building infrastructure for bikes is not just some new idea to make a city more liveable. It is about making the city free and accessible for everyone (of all ages) without the need to spend money on travel. It’s also about saving lives.

London’s problem is that people get sucked into the negative narratives that people like Simon Jenkins dispel. People listen to all the ‘umms’ and ‘ahhs’ and at the end of the day, we’re left with pathetic excuses for public space and pedestrian and bicycle infrastructure. Planners and politicians in London constantly try to appease everyone, but rarely ever, actually appease anyone.This city can do better.

We know what good bicycle planning looks like. Copenhagen and Amsterdam have been doing it for decades. Use that model and apply it to this city – it’s simple. Only then will we have cleaner air to breathe, improved high streets and urban vitality, and most importantly, less carnage on our streets.

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