I proudly handed out my first bicycle map today. Thousands of hours of research, conversations and what I know to be hard fought battles to make cycling a more viable travel option in Cape Town. On a map. In your pocket.
I have so enjoyed exploring these routes, knowing where the separated lanes are, what routes cyclists prefer and where there are potential dangers. Yet, after hundreds of kilometers of commuting, I am still bothered by the way in which our city is progressing in cycling infrastructure terms. Yes, we are ticking all the right boxes, albeit it slower than my ascent up Chappies.
What is it that just doesn’t feel right?
What is the question we are answering?
And of course how can urban design add value to the countless hours already sown by cycling activists?
Here is my hunch. We are negotiating around contested lines, not winning contested spaces.
A continuous line drawn down Albert Road, in a few months designated as a delineated painted road surface will be cause for celebration for anyone who has traveled by bicycle. That is for sure. On a map it will look like a victory and it may affect driver behavior somewhat, yet the space will not have changed. The outdoor room that is the street will not, in its enveloping of public life, have changed at all. The contestation of space will continue although the contestation of the line would have been won.
As a newbie cyclist and urban designer, my first experience of commuting was intoxicating, poetic and spatial. A direct route is unlikely to seduce me from my car as much as a meander through a series of rooms that express the gift that cycling brings to the city. The interconnection of neighborhoods.
Our unique contribution to the cycling city conversation is not only in the adoption and applicatiion of ‘Copenhagenization’ (its a word!) but we must connect spaces and communities that were previously separated. It is a spatial challenge as well as a linear challenge.
As a commuter, I don’t just want to ‘go there’, I want to ‘know there’.
Kirsten Wilkins goes in search of the ultimate family biking getaway… and discovers that you don’t have to travel far to share great adventures with the people who matter most.
A journey to challenge all of us. For nine days, twelve cyclists traversed the mostly un-tarred back roads of the central Karoo. Braving +40 degree temperatures, all in opposition to hydraulic fracking in the Karoo.
9 Days | ⇔ 1 100 km | + 8 961 m | ≡ Tar/ Gravel
Q: What happens when you mix bikes, wine and a bunch of strangers? ANS: A whole lot of fun and camaraderie.