Bicycle Urbanism

Bicycle Urbanism

Bikes are bikes. City by city their looks don’t change, they all work in the same way, yet each city uses them differently.

My bike story is no different than anyone else who grew up in a major city with horrible public transport and accessibility. Growing up in Houston, car-centric at its core, put bikes in the category of leisure. Kids rode their bicycles around the neighborhood or in their yard. Young families would take bike rides on Sunday’s, but eventually you age out of the category. When you no longer spent your summers outside and you were the ripe age of 16, freshly equipped with a car, your once used, once loved two wheeled object would sit in the garage to rot.

Bikes became more common in college, as kids want to get to class easily. But most schools are also quite walkable rendering the bike useless once again. This is not bicycle urbanism. This is bicycle arrogance.

Now if you go to Copenhagen the term bicycle urbanism makes complete sense (to everyone who is NOT Danish). But Danes have no clue what this term means. It is so ingrained in their lifestyle and their culture, it is what it is - it’s not bicycle urbanism, it is just life.

Now you’ll ask someone from Amsterdam to describe their bicycle urbanism versus that of Copenhagen and they’ll say Copenhagen biking is boring. Everything is easy. Anyone can bike in Copenhagen and it’s easy. You can clearly see where the bike lane is, almost all are separated and tell you EXACTLY what to do. "Yawn" say the Dutch.

In The Netherlands, biking rules are overrated. Kids stand on the back of their parents bike, rather than their parents installing a proper child seat addition to their bike. Bikers bike with umbrellas, rather than toughing it like the Danes. I don't remember seeing traffic signals in Amsterdam because I wasn't looking for them, I just looked for when I had the opportunity to go and I just went.

New York follows a Dutch mentality more than the Danish way. Bikers are reckless. Like a computer game they'll weave in and out of traffic with ballerina-like precision. I love it. There's a plethora of bicycle infrastructure, but there's also a plethora of stuff in the bicycle lanes: taxis, trash cans, garbage trucks, road block signs, etc. There are also a lot of areas without proper bike implementation rendering said recklessness.

That's the beauty of biking, every city does it differently and the culture lies inherently in the way people bike.

Dear Graduate

Dear Graduate