This past April a team of British bicycle riders embarked on a cross-country trek, pedaling out of Portland, Oregon towards their final destination, Portland Place London. The cyclists, all involved in the architecture, property, and planning industry, embarked on this incredibly long journey, which involves pedaling across the United States and then from Ireland to the UK, to study the way that cities are adapting to people’s growing tendency to choose the bicycle as their primary mode of transportation. On July 2, 2013 Grimshaw Architects, a sponsor of P2P along with The Architect's Newspaper, invites you to the P2P Welcome Reception where they will celebrate with UK architect and journalist Peter Murray and his P2P team in New York City as they conclude the first part of their cycling adventure, the 4,089-mile-long US leg of their bike ride. Their 4,347 mile voyage will be come to an end in July 2013 after they complete the final 258 mile bike ride across the UK and London. The festivities will take place at Grimshaw’s New York office at 637 West 27th Street.
Posts tagged with "Biking":
[ Editor's Note: Peter Murray, of the New London Architecture Center, together with a dozen architects and planners, is biking from Portland, Oregon to Portland Place in London, studying how cities are responding to the demand for better cycling infrastructure. He reports from the start of his ride. The Architect’s Newspaper is USA media sponsor of the trip and will post periodic updates of these architects on bicycles. As the P2P team gears up for its triumphant arrival in Manhattan on Sunday (June 30th) having completed the U.S. leg of the trip, Peter Murray looks back at some of the highlights of the last week’s riding. ] One of the delights of cycling across the States has been to experience cities whose names were familiar to me but whose contemporary characteristics and qualities were a void. I am ashamed to admit that when first researching our route through Pittsburgh my main ideas of the city were influenced by scenes of Pennsylvania’s shrinking steel industry from Michael Cimino’s 1978 film The Deerhunter. Instead, I found that Pittsburgh is "the regeneration capital of the U.S.," eds and meds have replaced steel and it has a fast-improving bicycle infrastructure. Much of the credit for this last piece of progress must go to the energy of Scott Bricker and Lou Fineberg who founded Bike Pittsburgh just over a decade ago. The city still has a long way to go but it has bike lanes and riverside trails and it is highly probable that the next Mayor will be the Democrat Bill Peduto, who is a strong supporter of better biking. Of buildings in the city, we much enjoyed H. H. Richardson’s powerful Allegheny Courthouse and Jail with its rough stone masonry and Romanesque detailing. Columbus, Ohio was another city I knew little about and often confused for Columbus, Indiana. We managed to find Peter Eisenman’s seminal decon Wexner Centre with its crashing grids, iconic plan, and instantly recognizable "chess piece" turrets. Passing Eisenman’s new convention center in the city, one gets the impression that he is more comfortable working at the smaller scale of the art gallery rather than the multiblock behemoth of the convention center. I left the ride for a few days to fulfill a speaking engagement in London and planned to rejoin the cyclists in Cincinnati and flew to Indianapolis confident that I could take the train to Cincinnati. However it turned out that they only run three times a week! The consequences of—to a European eye—the States' appalling underinvestment in rail transport can be seen in the striking Cincinnati Union Terminal. A giant juke box of a building designed by Alfred Fellheimer and completed in 1933. It has largely been taken over, perhaps appropriately, by an exhibition about dinosaurs, with one small side platform allocated to the trains. Zaha Hadid’s Contemporary Arts Center in Cincinnati is (for her) a restrained building which sits happily in the city block, although internally rather too much has been squeezed into too small a space. Michael Graves’s Engineering Center over at the University of Cincinnati was very grand, and I was surprised to hear later that Bernard Tschumi had designed one of the sports building which I had passed by without realising it had such a pedigree. We cycled round the Over-the-Rhine district, scene of the 2001 riots and now an area of major regeneration which reminded us of similar areas in London like Shoreditch and Spitalfields. Indianapolis has also gone through major regeneration in recent years, it has a vibrant downtown area, new convention center and the massive Lucas Oil Stadium designed by HKS with a brick facade that dominates the city. The architects used bricks to relate to the historic core but there was little they could do about the size of the building. The piece of design that most attracted us as cyclists was the the landscaping and bicycle paths. These have been designed to reflect their relationship with the city rather than selected from the stabdard traffic engineer’s catalogue. I struggle in each of these cities with the number of car parking sites which leave huge gaps in the urban fabric and destroy any feeling of place. In Cincinnati this has been ameliorated by a program of murals on blank walls, but maybe as more people take to bicycles and demand for car parking space reductions they will be developed to form a coherent part of the city.
[ Editor's Note: Peter Murray, of the New London Architecture center, together with a dozen architects and planners, is biking from Portland, Oregon to Portland Place in London, studying how cities are responding to the demand for better cycling infrastructure. He reports from the start of his ride. The Architect’s Newspaper is USA media sponsor of the trip and will post periodic updates of these architects on bicycles. ] We liked Minneapolis—it ended our sojourn in the wilderness of South Dakota, we saw some nice things, met a lot of cool people and the biking there is great! On our journey plan we had highlighted the fact that the city was host to a bevy of starchitects—Herzog and de Meuron with the 2005 Walker Art Gallery extension, Jean Nouvel with the Guthrie Theater of 2006, and Frank Gehry at the Weisman Museum which opened in 2011. H&deM’s gallery is their signature decorated rhomboidal shed with aluminum-mesh cladding panels stamped with a pattern of creases, while Nouvel’s is definitely a duck, its cylindrical forms reflecting the concrete silos on adjoining sites and its industrial detailing referencing the mills that once lined the Mississippi River at this point and created the wealth of the 19th century city. A gymnastic cantilever projecting out over the river provides spectacular views to St. Anthony Falls. As he did in London at One New Change and Reina Sofia in Madrid, Nouvel has delivered a popular new public space that enhances the visitor’s experience of the city. However, our local guides were keener to point out the picturesque ruins of the largest flour mill in the world, destroyed by a flour dust explosion and into which local architects Meyer Scherer and Rockcastle have sensitively inserted a contemporary office building. But the highlight of our tour was the Christ Church Lutheran designed by Eliel Saarinen in 1948 with an extension by Eero twenty or so years later. The interior is beautifully crafted in brick with a simple curved screen at the altar end flooded with south light. We had come to Minneapolis to study its cycling infrastructure—and we were impressed. Our group of 13 riders pedalled along the Midtown Greenway, a traffic-free cycle route which runs on a defunct railway line right through the heart of the city, then on to bicycle boulevards—lower-volume, slow speed streets with safe crossings which felt very comfortable to ride in. Bike lanes in the city are comprehensive in the central area and we found it easy to get around. Last year Bicycling Magazine named Minneapolis America’s “No 1 Bike City,” beating Portland, Oregon, despite the fact that the city experiences ferocious winters and riders have to fit studded tires in icy periods. Nearly four percent of Minneapolis residents bike to work according to Census data—an increase of 33 percent since 2007, and 500 percent since 1980. Two particularly interesting points, emerged from our conversations—that, like the High Line, the Midtown Greenway is a major generator of new residential development, and, like New York, most of the cycling infrastructure had been put in within the last decade—much quicker than most European cycling cities. These are just two lessons among the many we will be taking back to London to promote more and better cycling infrastructure in the UK capital.
[ Editor's Note: Peter Murray, of the New London Architecture center, together with a dozen architects and planners, is biking from Portland, Oregon to Portland Place in London, studying how cities are responding to the demand for better cycling infrastructure. He reports from the start of his ride. The Architect’s Newspaper is USA media sponsor of the trip and will post periodic updates of these architects on bicycles. ] Reaching Mount Rushmoor was a significant—indeed iconic—moment of the trip, our sense of arrival heightened by the steep and long hill that takes the visitor up to the Avenue of Flags and the rather pompous facilities that are in stark contrast to the desolate scenes one remembers from Hitchcock's North by North West. We had started the day from Deadwood, scene of America's last great gold rush and Wild Bill Hickock's demise. He was gunned down while holding a poker hand of aces and eights (the Dead Man's Hand). Appropriately, the town has been reinvented as a gambling town, Main Street is all casinos and our hotel lobby was full of slot machines where people sat all day, staring at screens amidst a cacophony of jingles that erupted every time a player pushed a button or won a prize. But for us the most memorable aspect of Deadwood was the rain. It poured solidly for 48 hours, it poured as we rode into town, it poured on our day off, and it poured as we left. The pine-covered Black Hills are very beautiful although cycling through them was made less enjoyable by South Dakota road department's use of rumble strips. In previous states the rumble strip, about a foot wide, runs parallel to the road just outside of the "fog line," generally leaving plenty of room on the hard shoulder for the cyclist. South Dakota places their rumble strips at 90 degrees to the road every 15 feet or so, which means you either have to weave in and out—often dangerously close to the carriage way—or ride over the strips which feels like you're taking part in the Paris-Roubaix race over cobbles. Coming out of the Black Hills we dropped down closer to the plains—through the bare Badlands with its lunar-like landscape and onto wide and open grass lands. Riding from Interior to Murdo, we encountered 24mph south easterly winds—70 miles of hard grind! Riders formed tight pelotons to reduce the drag, but we were all exhausted by the end of the day. We had our reward the next day when we turned north to Pierre, capital of South Dakota, and we were blown into town at 35-40mph. As we go we are studying the impact of cycling on cities in the US as well as raising money for Article 25, ABS and Architecture for Humanity.
[ Editor's Note: Peter Murray, of the New London Architecture center, together with a dozen architects and planners, is biking from Portland, Oregon to Portland Place in London, studying how cities are responding to the demand for better cycling infrastructure. He reports from the start of his ride. The Architect’s Newspaper is USA media sponsor of the trip and will post periodic updates of these architects on bicycles. ] When the author Bill Bryson moved back to the US from England he wrote a goodbye book entitled Notes from a Small Island. I was frequently reminded of Bryson’s analysis as I rode through Oregon, Idaho, Montana and Wyoming. By comparison to these great open spaces England is neat and manicured, with everything in its place. These huge states are shockingly profligate with their land—your barn falling down? let it, and build another next door; getting a new truck? leave the old one to rust in the field. Large areas of this beautiful countryside are disfigured by rotting trailers, wheel-less automobiles and discarded junk. Cities stretch out for miles and miles with low rise sheds and malls and scrub—Helena, capital of Montana, was probably the worst example we came across.When I get home I shall never again criticize the UK’s Green Belt policy; this key part of our planning system stops any development in a ring around the edge of major cities thus effectively restricting endless urban sprawl. To be fair to Helena they have done a pretty good job of improving their city center. Traces of the huge wealth created by the prolific output of gold from Last Chance Gulch can be seen in the heavy stone buildings of the CBD, St. Helena Cathedral, based on Cologne’s Domkirche, and the imposing State Capitol by Frank Mills Andrews. There is an open greensward outside the cathedral and Last Chance Gulch itself—now the main street—has been partially pedestrianized with spaces to sit out and for live performances. The landscapes we have cycled through have been awesome, but it is hard to say the same about the buildings. I yearn to see an elegantly detailed residence, a modern barn that has the charm of those that are now disintegrating. I long for a building positioned in the landscape with the elegance of composition of a Tuscan estate. So many buildings look like they have come out of a catalogue and just plonked anywhere. We’re a bunch of architects cycling through beautiful places, meeting friendly, welcoming people, served outsize meals, but we’re starved of ARCHITECTURE! I guess it is because there is so much space out here that development in such exquisite surroundings is taken so lightly. A map of the whole of Britain is just 1:10,000; the map I used to trace our route across the US is 1:3,800,000! That says it all really. When you’re a small island you care for every bit of it, sometimes too much, so that development is thwarted by conservation; but when you’ve got a lot of something, it’s easy to squander it.
Steven Vance, editor of StreetsBlog Chicago and frequent contributor to AN, dug through Walk Score's breakdown of the most bikeable neighborhoods in Chicago. The rankings are based on several factors, including the prevalence of bike lanes, connectivity, commuting mode share and hills. It also considers the number of neighborhood destinations and, as Vance points out, may consider a shared lane marking as a bike lane. That led to the Illinois Medical District’s surprising fourth place ranking, tailing East Ukrainian Village, Ukrainian Village and Wicker Park. See the national list of WalkScore.com’s most bikeable neighborhoods here, and read StreetsBlog’s post here.
[ Editor's Note: Peter Murray, of the New London Architecture center, together with a dozen architects and planners, is biking from Portland, Oregon to Portland Place in London, studying how cities are responding to the demand for better cycling infrastructure. He reports from the start of his ride. The Architect’s Newspaper is USA media sponsor of the trip and will post periodic updates of these architects on bicycles. ] Cycling through the small towns of Idaho and Montana provides useful lessons for the English visitor about the growth of settlements in the US and allows interesting comparisons with the development of urban structure in Britain. While we in the UK have high streets, they are a very different sort of place to main streets. English settlements often developed around market squares, their structure defined by the relationship between the church and the ‘big house’ occupied by the feudal landlord as well as topographical features and land ownership. The main streets of places we have cycled through in the last couple of weeks clearly grew up initially to service the needs of the traveller and retained their preeminence in the urban fabric because of the ubiquitous grid plan—a form promoted by Penn because he beleived it would prevent the outbreaks of fire and disease that bedevilled European cities in the 16th and 17th centuries. So as we followed the Lewis and Clark trail we came to towns like Kamiah, once the winter home of the Native-American tribe Nez Perce and now a tourist center with a main street remodelled along Western/Victorian theme. The wide main street is the heart of the place lined with two-story buildings with cut-out profiles that, to the tourist look as though they should be fronted with a board walk and somewhere to hitch your horse. We visited Bozeman, Montana. A look at the map confirms Main Street’s preeminence among city’s streets. We had been told of Bozeman’s hippy/liberal tendencies, largely on the basis that it is a university town. However the impression from Main Street was that this was a well-to-do town with its buildings in good repair, its shops and restaurants prosperous and an almost European intensity of street use with cyclists, pedestrians and cafe tables on the sidewalk. One American architect in the party—now working in London—described the look of Bozeman as "art directed" with its neat brickwork, refurbished buildings and tasteful color palette. The following day we cycled up Main Street in Reed Point—the home of the Great Montana Sheep Drive, past a tumble down bar that boasted "Indians and mountain men welcome here" and were accosted by a local who believed all cyclists to be dangerous lefties. Being British was even worse: “Why don’t you commies go to Iraq or Iran instead of coming here?” When it was suggested that the United Kingdom was not a communist state, the riposte was “No guns - no freedom!” Nothing of the sort, of course, happened when we went through Missoula. Described by the locals as a "spot of blue in a sea of red," it certainly had more of a hippy feel to it than Bozeman, less art directed, with buskers on the streets and offers of grass outside bars in the evening. Most importantly for us it is the headquarters of the Adventure Cycling Association who provide excellent information for long distance riders, particularly those going across the continent. The cycling provision in the center of town was fair enough, with bike lanes and a path along the Clark Fork River. However, in the outer areas the infrastructure for cyclists was non-existent with some of the most dangerous conditions we have yet encountered.
From the top of San Diego's soaring 200-foot-tall Coronado Bay Bridge, architect Lew Dominy says you can see Mexico, but outside of special events when the bridge is closed to automobile traffic, pedestrians and bicyclists who might stop to admire the view are prohibited. Dominy, principal at San Diego-based domusstudio architecture, has a plan to build a tube through the distinctive archways of the Coronado's support piers that would bring multi-modal access to the bridge. Dominy hatched the concept three decades ago while riding his bike across the bridge during a special event. "When you're 200 feet in the air looking at the city, it's just an unbelievable view," Dominy said. At the time he was interning for the the Coronado Bay Bridge's designer Bob Mosher, and developed an interest in the 11,179-foot-long span connecting the cities of San Diego and Coronado. Dominy shelved the proposal, but recently began promoting the concept anew. Over the past six months, he has been meeting with officials from the US Navy, the Cities of San Diego and Coronado, the bridge's owner CalTrans, and others to promote the idea and determine if the project is feasible. Dominy said the response so far has been positive. "With all the agencies and jurisdictions involved, this will take some time to become real," Dominy said in an email. "But the momentum is building, and we have gotten very positive responses everywhere we've been with the project. We think it could be an iconic draw for cyclists and runners and visitors to San Diego." The plan, estimated to cost around $50 million, calls for a steel cylinder to be built inside the 12-foot-diameter pier arches, with structural attachments to the bridge's existing steel box girders. After speaking with engineers who retrofitted the bridge for earthquakes a decade ago, Dominy said "it appears from initial analysis that no extra support is needed" for the new bike tube. The bridge is built with a 4.7 percent grade, meaning the ascent and descent over the two mile length of the bridge fit within existing ADA regulations. Dominy said the tube structure would be open but include railings and other protections to keep people from falling or jumping. He said the design could also include viewing areas at various points with glass floors to heighten the drama of the view. To move the project forward, Dominy hopes to raise funding for a feasibility study, that among other things, will help determine if adding the bike and pedestrian tube will impact clearances of large ships that move underneath the bridge.
Every day, an average 4,000 pedestrians and 3,100 cyclists cross the upper-level pathway of the Brooklyn Bridge. Commuters, tourists, and joggers vie for space on the congested path, whose width varies from 16 feet to as little as 8 feet—creating a bottleneck for two-way bike traffic. For years observers have recounted harrowing tales of near collisions on the overcrowded span, like the bike-phobic Post pitting reckless cyclists against merely oblivious tourists and the Times calling for the appropriation of a traffic lane for bike use. But now a proposal to double the width of the path could offer a solution to the overcrowding. The answer to this conflict is expansion, according to three City Council members from districts adjacent the Bridge: Margaret Chin representing Lower Manhattan and Brad Lander and Stephen Levin representing the Brooklyn waterfront from Greenpoint through Carroll Gardens. “As the lower Manhattan and Brownstone Brooklyn communities continue to grow, the Brooklyn Bridge is becoming an increasingly vital connection,” council member Chin wrote in a statement. “We must ensure this historic destination is equipped to handle our city’s growing transportation demands.” Currently the pathway widens as it passes around the iconic bridge towers supporting the bridge's suspension cables, extending over the innermost traffic lanes below. The council members propose widening the entire pathway to that width, creating a dedicated bike lane on the northern side and an additional pedestrian lane on the south side, thus tripling pedestrian capacity. The proposal has not yet been discussed with designers or engineers, and council member Levin suggested a design competition to create a more refined plan. No budget or plans for funding have been established and no timeframe has been set for such a project. The council members suggest that it could be integrated with current plans for a redesign of the approach at Tillary Street on the Brooklyn side of the bridge, which currently leaves pedestrians and cyclists to pile up in the middle of the road waiting for a crosswalk. Increased capacity will also demand a redesign of the Manhattan approach, as bottlenecking already creates congestion there as well. Any alterations to the bridge will require the approval of city preservationists, as the main span is a city-designated landmark, a national historic landmark, and a national historic civil engineering landmark. Modification would not be unprecedented, however, as the original trolley and railways were removed from the bridge in the 1950s.
It's becoming clear how Congress' approval ratings keep dropping to new historic lows—the latest Gallup Poll released yesterday puts it at a squat ten percent—when the legislative body continues to threaten policies not just architects but also the general public hold near and dear. Now, as key transportation bills that set funding for all national infrastructure--including roads, transit, shipping, pipelines, and even sidewalks--prepare for a votes in the House of Representatives and Senate as soon as the coming week, we're seeing transit, biking, walkability, the environment, and historic preservation all at risk. Here's a roundup of the latest: Among the chief concerns of the House's HR7 bill, otherwise known as the American Energy & Infrastructure Jobs Act, is that dedicated funding for transit, biking, and walkability is eliminated. That includes funding requirements for Congestion Mitigation and Air Quality (CMAQ) programs that promote alternative transportation, such as sidewalks, bike lanes, and the Safe Routes to School program. But that's not the end of it; Yonah Freemark at The Transport Politic has a great write-up of all the bill's problems. For instance, on why funding is being eliminated for transit, bikes, and pedestrians in the first place:
The members of the committee determined that to remedy the fact that gas taxes have not been increased since 1993, the most appropriate course was not to raise the tax (as would make sense considering inflation, more efficient vehicles, and the negative environmental and congestion-related effects of gas consumption) but rather to transfer all of its revenues to the construction of highways. Public transit, on the other hand, would have to fight for an appropriation from the general fund, losing its traditional guarantee of funding and forcing any spending on it to be offset by reductions in other government programs.Highway cost overruns not covered by the gas tax could be paid for by up to $2 billion from drilling for oil in coastal waters, including areas in the Gulf hit by the massive BP oil spill,and the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge. The New York Times recently blasted the GOP bill that Secretary of Transportation Ray LaHood, a former Republican congressman himself, called "the worst transportation bill I've ever seen during 35 years of public service." He also told Politico, "It also is the most anti-safety bill I have ever seen...It hollows out the guts of the transportation efforts that we've been about for the last three years." With a vote imminent, groups from Transportation for America to the National Resources Defense Council declared today a national day of action to get in touch with your elected officials and voice your opinion about the bills. AIA President Jeff Potter is among those concerned that current transportation bills are flawed. “While we are gratified that both the House and the Senate are moving ahead on transportation bills, there are some provisions that would take our communities in the wrong direction,” said Potter. “We urge Congress to continue working on a truly bipartisan bill that helps meet the design and construction industry goals: hold funding levels steady, support multiple modes of transportation, and account for the many enhancements that well-planned transportation projects can bring to communities throughout this great nation.” While the AIA praised the Senate for including provisions that assist in planning mixed-use communities around transit, it worries that by removing dedicated transit funding, those planning capabilities are jeopardized. From the AIA's official statement:
The AIA is concerned that provisions in bills that have passed House committees would hurt a community’s ability to plan. This is especially true for provisions in the Ways and Means bill that remove transit from the trust fund and provisions in the Transportation and Infrastructure committee’s bill that prevent communities from using funds for preservation and re-use of historic facilities.Historic preservation is at risk in the Senate's S. 1813: MAP-21. Here's the gist of the problem from the National Trust for Historic Preservation:
Transportation Enhancements (TE), the single largest source of federal funding for historic preservation, is still under siege. ... MAP-21 (S. 1813) eliminates dedicated funding for TE, forcing the program to compete with other types of road projects that do not possess the same job creation or cultural heritage benefits as preservation-oriented TE projects. In addition, we anticipate harmful amendments that would further weaken the program. To make matters worse, the outlook for TE is even bleaker in the House. Current proposals not only eliminate the funding set aside but also eliminate the preservation-related categories of the TE program entirely. This is why it is critical to get favorable TE language into the Senate bill.The National Trust has also called for concerned citizens to contact their legislators about the proposal. You can read more about the connection between preservation and transportation at the Trusts's Preservation Nation blog.
Postal nostalgia. During the Great Depression, the WPA built a post office with a tile roof, marble steps, and an intricate mural in Venice, CA. The LA Times noted that the historic post office may now close down due to USPS budget cuts, much to the chagrin of Venice residents. A place for bikes. The number of indoor bicycle storage rooms at offices is slowly increasing throughout New York City. Though expensive to maintain and space consuming, the NY Times asserted the presence of a bike room benefits the real estate industry (by increasing interest) as well as residents. Biking Memphis. StreetsBlog reports Memphis Mayor AC Wharton has proposed 55 miles of bike lanes to be inserted into existing streets. Local businesses are subsequently concerned about slower traffic. Parking in LA. The LA Times reported LA Mayor Villaraigosa has announced he wants to build 50 “pocket parks” in the next two years. First on the agenda, is the construction of several parks ranging from 5,000 to 20,000 square feet in Southern Los Angeles that begins next month. Hadid no diva. Zaha Hadid sat down with Newsweek and Daily Beast editor Tina Brown to discuss her life, her career, and her reputation.
Thinkin' Lincoln. IBM is taking over the Lincoln Center through October 23rd with one of the biggest interactive technology exhibits in the city: IBM Think Exhibit. Highlights include the 123-feet long "data wall" and a forest of 40 seven-foot media panels. More at Inhabitat. Bronx Beauty. The New York Times' new archi-critic, Michael Kimmelman, has penned his first review, shying away from the iconic, gleaming projects of his predecessor, instead beginning with Via Verde affordable housing in the South Bronx, which may help him demonstrate that quality trumps quantity, especially in moral debates of architecture. Biking Sacrifice. Atlantic Cities reported that cyclists in urban environments might want to be wary of cars for more than just accident risks: harmful automobile emissions create a hazard for cyclists as well. According to new research, bikers inhale more than twice the amount of black carbon particles as pedestrians do in the same trip.