TEDx talk resume: Bicycle culture with Mikael Colville-Andersen

A quite interesting TED talk on mobility and cycling. I’ve picked out a few interesting thoughts:

According to Colville-Andersen, the street was, for millenia, a place of gathering and shopping, it was where kids played and you could chat to your neighbours. That all changed with the introduction of the car. Basically, streets became a utility, much like sewers or power lines. The street no longer belonged to humans.

Cars were ushered into the streets and the public mind as the greater good and pedestrians had to learn to make way for their new master. Engineers were the great men of the era and it would be engineers who would design roads and mobility systems.

For Colville-Andersen, these last 50 years have not resulted in much if anything.

He therefore strives for:

  • a designer approach to replace the engineering approach
  • a returen to anthropology: designers should be users and should observe other users
  • “desire lines”: don’t penalize users for misbehaviour, adapt your design

These “desire lines” are quite interesting as a name. Mikael looks at certain parts of cities and analyses how people use them. If people use a city in a certain way that is outside of the road regulations, and there is a great number of citizens doing so, then you should consider this a social “desire”. Mikael and his team map certain areas of the city and analyse how they are being used, to identify these desires. When on a given day 300 people cut across an intersection, you shouldn’t be handing out tickets, you should reconsider your design.

The full video can be viewed here:

An older TED talk where he talks about bike helmets:

TheCityFix had a Q&A with him on the topic as well.

More from Mikael’s aptly named bicycle city design office: Copenhagenize

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