Big City Sans Cars

Here’s a fascinating look at… hmmmmm… what to call this? The future? A future?

In any case, vehicle design student Marten Wallgren and his group recently won a Seymour Powell award for best concept in the “Future City Mobility” competition. They created a city system in which a futuristic bicycle is at the heart of an integrated transportation system including buses and taxis.

You will find much larger image files on his MWBlog that explain the concepts. Fascinating stuff.

Here’s what I’m wondering: While I admire Wallgren’s  creative imagination, why change the bicycle so radically? (Yes, I get that it is necessary to the system as designed.)

I’m wondering if it might be possible to design a similar vision that requires less tinkering with a tried-and-true design and more tinkering with the big, dirty, and dangerous machines that are making big cities hell in the first place.

I get that he’s also created an energy system. That’s very cool.

Another thing that makes me wonder: How appealing would such a system really be given the individualistic nature of bicycling. Where is the personal style? Where is the self-expression? Where is the hot pink cruiser with a woven basket full of flowers?

What’s great about this system is that I think we can take the central idea and begin thinking realistically about implementation of no-car, low-car policies for big cities using the bicycle as it stands. We can begin to think about how to make other forms of transportation integrate with the bicycle instead of the bicycle integrate with other forms of transportation.

Science fiction? No. Sadly it is political fiction.

(via Bicycle Design)

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Comments 6

  1. disgruntled wrote:

    political fiction? Or everyday life in Copenhagen, Amsterdam…

    Posted 25 Jun 2009 at 2:00 pm
  2. Andy Cline wrote:

    Disgruntled… Both. Fiction in the U.S. Everyday life in Copenhagen and Amsterdam.

    Posted 25 Jun 2009 at 2:13 pm
  3. Nate Bassett wrote:

    This is just more Popular Mechanics style futurism rather than any sort of realistic advocacy for alternative transportation. Their other designs include concept cars and completely impractical sailboats for the year 2049.

    Posted 25 Jun 2009 at 2:32 pm
  4. Andy Cline wrote:

    Nate… Yes, hence my wondering about what we might actually do with these concepts.

    Posted 25 Jun 2009 at 2:50 pm
  5. Nate Bassett wrote:

    Well, there was a really good youtube video about how English cyclists in the 50s coordinated with the rail system to provide a “bike car”, where they would hang bikes vertically while traveling here and there… these days, there are the folding bikes, but integrating elevated rail, subway, and bus systems works in a great way where there’s sufficient infrastructure and planning for it. I don’t understand why anyone drives in Manhattan. That’s obviously the exception, but the real answer for the future is new urbansim city planning by avoiding sprawl and creating mixed zoning, which minimizes the need for cars.

    Sorry, was rambling. What to do with the concepts here? Well… they might look good hanging on the wall of a future applebees. But I do love the energy planning aspect of those designs.

    Posted 25 Jun 2009 at 11:20 pm
  6. Andy Cline wrote:

    Nate… Yep. I’m down with the New Urbanism thing.

    Posted 26 Jun 2009 at 7:17 am