Cities for Cyclists, Velo-city, Interview, 12.07.2012, by Julian Ferguson, ECF
Bicycle advocates need to focus their efforts on city design as much as on cycling itself. ECF spoke to Urbanist Brent Toderian during Velo-city 2012.
Brent Toderian made a rather bold statement at Velo-city, but it’s one that has resonated with me long after the conference was finished. Speaking to a room packed full of bicycle advocates, he said “I’m not a rabid cyclist, but I love what they do to cities.”
Having been Vancouver’s former chief planner and now President at the Council for Canadian Urbanism, there’s no doubt that he knows a thing or two about urban planning. And he has some interesting advice for bicycle advocates.
“The recipe for a biking city starts with your urban form, it starts with your density. If you didn’t get your fundamentals [right]… you’re not going to succeed,” explains Toderian.
“It’d be like trying to build the best bicycle lane out in the sprawls in the suburbs of North America where nobody’s got anything to ride to.”
Toderian certainly has a point. Speaking to one of my Dutch colleagues on the issue, he explained that cycling isn’t a matter of bicycle lanes, bicycle parking etc. For him, cycling is simply part of the greater picture, an ingredient in rather complex recipe which includes transport strategy, urban planning, street design to name but a few.
“A lot of bicycle advocates think about how much bike parking there is, whether you’ve got the right helmet laws… but biking advocates need to get more involved in the fundamental building of the city,” adds Toderian.
Should our fight for more bicycle friendly cities mean we need to focus more on the city and less on the bicycle?
Definitely some food for thought.
Photo: Brent Toderian Speaking at Velo-city 2012 in Vancouver.