Bicycles and local planning

October 29, 2010

Mobility is an important factor in the cities. In my home country Spain, there is a big debate about the use of bikes, and its promotion and problems. See for example the brad new blog in Spanish. I ♥ Bicis (bikes). Here in Denmark, I love biking to work everyday, ok I admit it, not with intense rain or snow.
What comes before the biker or a biking friendly infrastructure? One would say the biker. However, a correct planning it’s crucial. Here I show a video of the evolution of the cities of the Netherlands.

I think in Spain the most important thing that would change the whole mentality is to incentive housing property owners to have a bike parking. For example, in Denmark every building by law has to have a bike parking. I hope in the future some Spanish cities would change their mentality, some of them are taking good steps, but overall still the bike use is minimal. For now, we should keep asking, what comes first, the car or the car friendly infrastructure?

Thanks to Manuel Fernandez for the link, check his web Ateneo Naider.

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Yesterday I was watching TV and they had a special on music of the 60’s. There were some groups, but then they showed this song from Petula Clark, according to the documentary she was part of the British invasion. The song was an international hit – #1 in the US – early in 1965. I have never put in this blog a video, and although this one is quite cheesy I think is interesting. It also helps me imagine the kind of downtown that the citizens of Vallejo, CA had in their mind when they decided to rebuild the Downtown in 1959 and early 60’s.

Bellow I paste the lyrics. The reason why I’m putting this is because is a relic of the American urban culture. With the exception of a few cities, nobody goes out anymore to Downtown. In Europe it’s not the same as in the past, but the Downtown feeling has survived better because of lesser use of the car. Anyways, in Europe and USA, in the late 1960’s the big urban sprawl was on its way, and at that time still people went out to the center of the city. Some say that there is a revival of the downtown in the U.S., let’s see what happens.

Downtown

When you’re alone and life is making you lonely
You can always go – downtown
When you’ve got worries, all the noise and the hurry
Seems to help, I know – downtown
Just listen to the music of the traffic in the city
Linger on the sidewalk where the neon signs are pretty
How can you lose?

The lights are much brighter there
You can forget all your troubles, forget all your cares
So go downtown, things’ll be great when you’re
Downtown – no finer place, for sure
Downtown – everything’s waiting for you

Don’t hang around and let your problems surround you
There are movie shows – downtown
Maybe you know some little places to go to
Where they never close – downtown
Just listen to the rhythm of a gentle bossa nova
You’ll be dancing with him too before the night is over
Happy again

The lights are much brighter there
You can forget all your troubles, forget all your cares
So go downtown, where all the lights are bright
Downtown – waiting for you tonight
Downtown – you’re gonna be all right now

[Instrumental break]

And you may find somebody kind to help and understand you
Someone who is just like you and needs a gentle hand to
Guide them along

So maybe I’ll see you there
We can forget all our troubles, forget all our cares
So go downtown, things’ll be great when you’re
Downtown – don’t wait a minute for more
Downtown – everything’s waiting for you

Downtown, downtown, downtown, downtown …

This post is like a continuation of Kotkin comes to Denmark to kick R. Florida

So my colleague H.P. pointed me out that Florida quotes Kotkin in “The Rise of the Creative Class” to support his argument. I totally overlooked at it! In fact, Florida quotes him a couple of times, and it looks they’re perfectly in tune.
Googling a little bit about their relationship, I found that Florida last summer gave his opinion about the “Kotkin-Florida debate” as he says, quoting Bill Fulton to support that Kotkin came after him without any reason and that Kotkin’s arguments are getting old. I don’t know what to say about that. I mean these guys don’t really like each other.  

The thing is that they are working in different spheres, they both bring their contributions, but sometimes is just hard (at least for me) to put them together. I also feel that Kotkin has his feet more on the ground, but he just focus on criticizing instead of giving ideas. For example, Kotkin and Florida meet in Pittsburg last February. They agree in immigration, entrepreneurship, and both disagree in building huge projects (like the stadium), but it’s they’re always putting disagreeing at the end.

Gotta love these guys.