Gavin Blyth: Velo City – Architecture for Bikes, Prestel Verlag, ISBN: 978-3-7913-4909-1160 Pages, 29.95 Euro
The bicycle is the world’s most utilized vehicle. Yet city planners have long neglected the two-wheeler and rather focused on cars. Today, there is a recognition of the incredibly flexible vehicle’s benefits. All over the world efforts are being made to take cyclists into account in a more effective manner. Bike lanes, traffic guidance systems, bicycle parking areas and rental stations need to be designed, the bicycle has an enormous amount of influence on the development of urban spaces and their architecture.
The coffee table book “Velo City” documents the concepts and plans that have already been implemented. There are examples from 16 countries – from the United Arab Emirates to Denmark, Great Britain to the USA, from Portugal to China. In Copenhagen, for example, residents of the 8-House, a building complex designed in the shape of a number 8, can ride their bikes across ramps from their apartments to the ground floor without having to step down – even if they live on the tenth floor. In the Dutch city of Eindhoven the Hovenring, a traffic circle for cyclists suspended above the car traffic, has received plenty of accolades. The imposing construction is suspended with the help of 24 steel cables on a 70-meter-high post and allows cyclists to cross on the of the city’s busiest intersections in perfect safety and without stress. Just as spectacular is the more than 100-meter-long Melkwegbridge (see photo above) in Purmerend (Netherlands), connecting a new borough with the old town.
In Dubai’s desert a 68-kilometer-long bicycle super-highway was constructed, ensuring encounters with wild animals such as antelopes and camels. Not as hot and dusty, and considerably greener and more artful is the Parkcycle Swarm Project in Copenhagen. Cargo bikes with grass growing on their cargo platforms traverse the city. A number of bicycles parked next to each other create a mini park, easily disassembled and moveable. The book shows a number of other examples with solutions for parking, renting and charging of bikes, yet there are also images of impressive bicycle collections, Olympic velodromes or unusual concept stores.
The coffee table book will attract both bicycle enthusiasts and architecture fans. The former will discover the bicycle-friendly places around the globe already in existence and the possibilities; the latter will see how the ensuing victory parade of the bicycle will affect the cities of the future.