Repost: The Real Reason Why Bicycles are the Key to Better Cities

The ever-delightful Cory Doctorow adds:  “the advent of short-hire bikes around town has got me riding everywhere again, and I’m loving it.” [bold emphasis added :-)]

The most vital element for the future of our cities is that the bicycle is an instrument of experiential understanding.

The bicycle doesn’t need to be sold. It’s economical, it’s fun, it’s sexy, and just about everyone already has one hiding somewhere in their garage.

Invite a motorist for a bike ride through your city and you’ll be cycling with an urbanist by the end of the day. Even the most eloquent of lectures about livable cities and sustainable design can’t compete with the experience from atop a bicycle saddle.

“These cars are going way too fast,” they may mutter beneath their breath.

“How are we supposed to get across the highway?”

“Wow, look at that cathedral! I didn’t know that was there.”

“I didn’t realize there were so many vacant lots in this part of town.”

“Hey, let’s stop at this cafe for a drink.”

Suddenly livability isn’t an abstract concept, it’s an experience. Human scale, connectivity, land use efficiency, urban fabric, complete streets… all the codewords, catchphrases, and academic jargon can be tossed out the window because now they are one synthesized moment of appreciation. Bicycles matter because they are a catalyst of understanding – become hooked on the thrill of cycling, and everything else follows. Now a new freeway isn’t a convenience but an impediment. Mixed-use development isn’t a threat to privacy but an opportunity for community. And maybe, just maybe, car-free living will eventually be seen not as restrictive, but as a door to newfound freedom.

[sustainablecitiescollective via boingboing]

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