Back to the Future, by Bicycle

When does going backward mean progress? When you’re talking about
bicycle use in the city of Beijing.

According to Streetsblog Network
member The
City Fix
, Chinese officials have woken up to the idea that the
city’s traditional bicycling culture, which has been in sharp decline
over the last 20 years, should be restored and fostered:

beijing_nov_07_kf_024.jpgMore bikes
are coming to Beijing. (Photo: Karl
Fjellstrom
, ITDP China)

Liu Xiaoming, the director of
the Municipal Communications Commission, said in a Xinhua
article

that the government will “revise and eliminate” regulations that
discourage bicycle use and impose greater restrictions on car drivers…

The government also plans to restore bicycle lanes that were torn
down, as well as to build more parking lots for bicycles at bus and
subway stations to encourage additional cycling.  Also an improvement:
The city will make more bikes available for rent to defray the cost of
owning a bike (a new one can cost as little as $20-$40) and allay fears
of bicycle theft, a rampant
problem in the city
. By 2015, the number of bikes for rent will
total 50,000. 

Meanwhile, in a galaxy far, far away, Los Angeles blog Westside
Bikeside
has a post that indulges in a little futuristic fantasy,
putting convicted road rager Dr. Christopher Thompson in a quasi–Planet
of the Apes scenario. (Thanks to Stephen Box of SoapBoxLA for pointing us to
this one.)

Here’s the idea: Dr. Thompson, as you may have heard, has been sentenced
to five years in prison
for his vehicular assault on two people
riding bicycles on Mandeville Canyon Road in Los Angeles. His driver’s
license has also been permanently revoked. The folks at Westside
Bikeside are imagining what would happen if the city of LA underwent a
paradigm shift in those five years, and Dr. Thompson emerged into a
landscape that was much friendlier to bicycles — one of which, of
course, would be his most efficient form of transportation:

To Thompson it really would look like the Planet of the Apes. He
would have left a city where the car is king and its necessity is
unquestioned by most. …He might return to a city which put cyclists and
pedestrians, as
vulnerable road users, first. He might return to a city where cycling
is fashionable, and cyclist intimidation, in any form, is
unfashionable…

I’d like to announce Bikeside’s Planet of the Apes meta-project.
It’s not really a project — what the hell would a Planet of the Apes
project grant application look like? It’s more of a goal: total,
unfathomable, transformation. Total transformation of LA’s streets;
unfathomable transformation of LA’s minds… We should begin our journey
not entirely certain of our
destination, just intention and resolve to work like hell to get it
done.  I say we point to the mountain in the distance and say “that’s
where we’re going, screw the map.” That’s the Planet of the Apes
meta-project — a commitment to all out transformation of LA to a lush,
livable, fun-able, paradise.

Ridiculous? Or visionary? To those who would say LA’s sheer size
makes bicycling as transportation impractical, Beijing’s example may be
instructive: Los
Angeles County
contains some 4,061 square miles; the city of Beijing encompasses
nearly 6,500 square miles.

ALSO ON STREETSBLOG

Danish Architect Jan Gehl on Good Cities for Bicycling

|
Editor’s note: This is the final installment in our series this week featuring Danish architect and livable streets luminary Jan Gehl. The pieces are excerpts from his book, “Cities for People” published by Island Press. Donate to Streetsblog SF and you’ll qualify to win a copy of the book, courtesy of Island Press. Bicyclists represent […]

Everyday “City Bikes” Need a Stimulus

|
This Oma-fiets (or, Grandma-bicycle, in Dutch) sits for sale at the Market Street storefront of "My Dutch Bike" while a typical "American" bike is pedaled by outside. Photo by Frank Chan. Like so many people, when Soraya Nasirian saw Dutch people on bicycles, she had an epiphany. "Why aren’t more Americans riding bicycles like this?" […]
STREETSBLOG USA

A (Quiet) Bike Renaissance in Rockville, Maryland

|
The DC suburb of Rockville, Maryland, is quietly becoming a bike-friendly city. Greater Greater Washington reports that Rockville advocates and the city have worked together for the last 15 years to expand bike infrastructure. The result: a 68-mile bike network, including 34 miles of separated bikeways, 33 miles of shared lanes, and a multi-use path […]

Copenhagen Cycle Ambassador Says Bikes Are Hot

|
If you’ve been following bicycle blogs for any amount of time at all, you’ve probably stumbled upon Mikael Colville-Andersen, who runs the blogs Copenhagenize and Copenhagen Cycle Chic. (We often feature his posts on the Streetsblog Network.) On Tuesday afternoon, he brought his inimitable style of bike advocacy (pretty spiffy, though low-key) to Columbia University. […]

In-Street Bicycle Parking: What, When, Where and How Much?

|
From APBP: In-Street Bicycle Parking: What, When, Where and How Much? Increasingly communities face the dilemma of bicycles and pedestrians competing for scarce sidewalk space. As pedestrian activity increases wider sidewalks are needed, while as cycling increases more bicycle parking—traditionally placed on sidewalks—is also needed. In-street bicycle corrals allow agencies to place bicycle parking in […]