The first Bicycle City is finally getting built! More on that and how Bicycle City got started via co-founder Joe Mellet below.
I have seen advertisements for Bicycle City for years now. I remember when it first got started — it looked like a great initiative but was rather mysterious. “Where was “bicycle city” or where would bicycle cities be?” was the question on numerous bicycle enthusiasts’ and city planners’ minds.
The Bicycle City website built up a stronger and stronger collection of materials and information on bicycling and potential locations for bicycle cities, as well as a big list of folks interested in bicycle cities, but still, no info on where the first Bicycle City would be. Now, there is.
The first Bicycle City is scheduled to be “built” in Lexington County, South Carolina.
Ok, well, apparently this wasn’t just announced (I must have been busy with my other profession when this happened), but the Bicycle City, which looks like it will be more of a fledgling community to start, is just now approaching the construction stage.
Hopefully, things will go well on this project and we will see many more like it sooner rather than later, but co-founder Joe Mellett says they are in no rush — their motto, appropriately, seems to be “slow and steady.”
Kelsey Keith of Architizer conducted an excellent interview with Joe recently and there are some great pieces of it worth sharing here.
Bicycles, Clean Energy, and Green Buildings
Along with great places for bicycles and bicyclists, Joe told Kelsey that his vision is for these car-free towns to be “showcase[s] for wind and solar energy as well as architects who specialize in green and LEED-certified problems.”
Of course! Why not promote sustainable, clean energy and buildings while also promoting sustainable, clean transportation? Great way to integrate these important issues.
What Inspired Bicycle City?
In college I rode with a few friends of mine 4200 miles across the US and realized it was a great way to see the country and interact with communities instead of just driving by. Later I moved to Phoenix — such a cookie cutter city — and I was hit a few times while riding my bike.
In his book Megatrends, John Naisbitt projects that in the future communites are going to be “high tech, high touch.” With more technology, people will want to embrace the touchy feely parts of life in tandem. And in the 1970s, Richard Register coined the term “eco city,” which suggested new model for community design.
This idea of balancing out our transition to more technology is a very interesting one for me. Truthfully, it is like common sense, but I have never seen this issue discussed in this way before. I think this is one very important reason to promote such communities, and one that is often (almost always) overlooked.
Moving on, Joe says:
I pitched the idea to some developers mainly interested in golf communities. The National Sporting Goods Association statistics say that cycling is more popular than skiing, tennis, and golf combined.* So I figured, if there’s room for hundreds of golf communities [in the US], why not one biking community?
Exactly! Bicycling is such a popular past time, and yet we don’t often make the connection in the U.S. that it could be an important, central part of modern life. I loved in the Netherlands for 5 months where this was the case and I can say without any hesitation that the place I lived (Groningen) had the highest quality of life of any place I’ve ever been, largely because its transportation system was focused around bicycling. Doing this makes for a much quieter city, a more human-scaled city, cleaner air, and less psychological trauma.
Bicycling is not just about helping the environment or burning some fat. It is about living a more enjoyable life.
There is more good stuff in the Architizer interview on the upcoming community in South Carolina and future plans — head on over there or to the Bicycle City website if you’re interested in reading more.
Are you super into bicycling? Consider joining the Biking Revolution of Love & Freedom facebook group.
Top 2 Image Credits: Bicycle City
Bottom Photo: Amsterdam/Zachary Shahan (me)