One of the overall themes from yesterday at Velo-City Global was that bicycling is about people. “I don’t give a sh*t about bikes. I care about people on bikes,” was how Mikael Coleville-Anderson, filmmaker, photographer and urban mobility specialist, put it. The idea that we should be planning our cities around its people rather than its cars has somehow escaped us Americans for the past decades. Where did we lose track of this idea? When presented, it sounds so obvious but in reality we have continued to take and take and take space away from people – walking people, conversing people, bike-riding people – and given it to the cars. We have given it away to single occupancy loneliness; we have separated crowds by steel and have stolen the chance for citizens to really experience their community.
Lake Sagaris, president of Ciudad Viva in Santiago, Chile, spoke a similar tone in her presentation. There are so many faces to the world, yet segregating ourselves by an automobile takes the personality out of a community. Bicycling is not only about connecting locations but it is also about connecting people in communities. It is about growing an identity and giving people faces for which to see and respond. Sagaris’s people-packed photos were a reminder that people need people. We need that chance encounter on a sidewalk or on a bike-path where we can stop, talk, and connect.
Cities need to again consider its people when planning how to move them, consider their health, consider the air they are breathing, consider their ability to connect to their neighbors, and consider their quality of life. Bicycles are a solution to all of these issues and more, and it really is about the people. Bikes would be nothing without people to propel them.
Check out Copenhagenize’s most recent blog about Copenhagen’s bicycle superhighways.
Read SF Streetsblog to see what lessons they are taking home to the States.
Alison DeweyDewey joined the League in 2008. For four years prior to that, Dewey worked for Massachusetts- based Landry’s Bicycles and served on the board of the Massachusetts Bicycle Coalition. Dewey has a MA in International Relations and Communications from Boston University and is a graduate of St. Olaf College. She spent three years as a Peace Corps volunteer in Senegal.
League Program Manager, BFB & BFU