Worldwide governments have to economize, which generally means there will be less money to spend on the city’s public spaces. Here on Pop-Up City we are very much interested in new financing strategies concerning public space.
Would it, for instance, be possible to give world-leading brands the opportunity to invest in public spaces while giving them some brand visibility in return? Talking about such an idea usually leads to angry faces and automatic defending mechanisms. Generally, brand involvement is considered something bad in the urban planning community. It seems to be completely normal that local governments sell all empty walls for advertisement space in order to earn some extra money, while at the same time it is not done to ask brands to get involved in public space design… even when the community could get something worth-full in return.
A brilliant example of city sponsoring are the Barclays Cycle Super Highways in London. Inspired by its Mayor, London tries to catch up with the increasing popularity of cycling in metropolitan areas around the world. The British consumer bank Barclays is strongly involved in this initiative. The bank gives name to this Cycle Super Highway system, but also lends its corporate color to the project. As Springwise explains, “Barclays’ effort will forever link its brand in Londoners’ minds with bicycling and sustainability”.
The Cycle Super Highways are new cycle lanes into central London from outer London. They will provide cyclists with safer, faster and more direct journeys into the city. The first two are open, with ten more being introduced by 2015. Along with the cycle lanes, a Cycle for Hire initiative is launched with 6,000 blue-emblazoned bicycles and 400 branded docking stations, also sponsored by Barclays. A video on YouTube explains the cycle super highways project in more detail. The project has to stimulate Londoners to cycle more often, and takes advantage from the worldwide biking hype. Predictably, it even has a social media component. MyLondonCycle is a social community built around the new Barclays Cycle Hire program in London. The goal is to bring even more fun into cycling with a little social game. Although Barclays spends a lot of money on London’s cycling program, not everybody is happy. Some folks have started a sticker action to emphasize that Barclays is not the sustainable company it claims to be…