Trend 7: The Reinvention Of The Wheel

Bikes become cooler and cooler in the world city of today. Adopted by hipsters as a sustainable, healthy and cool way of transport, we have seen bike shops, coffee bars and cafés pop up everywhere, such as Look Mum No Hands in London and the pop-up bars slash shops slash galleries Rapha’s Cycle Club and Lock 7 in New York City. Last summer Amsterdam had its own temporary biker meeting place. At art space Mediamatic the Sur Place exhibition paid attention to urban bike culture with workshops and parties, and a real indoor bike track that ran through the entire exhibition space. In The Netherlands this is rather interesting since biking is in itself not related to a specific subcultural domain, but rather to a collective manner of transporation. Mediamatic’s temporary biker meeting place was a celebration of bike subculture that slowly gets introduced in Amsterdam, partly thanks to the fixed gear culture coming from the messenger boys and girls. According to Mediamatic’s co-founder and owner Willem Velthoven, the interesting thing about bike culture is the passion involved of the bikers. Besides that, it is strongly related to style issues and contemporary metropolitan subculture.

An interesting phenomenon within metropolitan bike culture are the numerous cycling blogs rooted in cities around the world, for instance the web magazine Copenhagenize, which reports about Copenhagen as bike capital and brings its readers stories, photos and insights in urban bike culture. Under ‘Sites We Like’ you can find a list of cycling blogs in other cities around the globe, such as Bike Snob (New York City), BikePortland (Portland, Oregon) and Mama Bicycle (Kyoto). Copenhagen has proved to be the most innovative city when it comes to cycling and bike policy. The city, that aims to be entirely CO2 neutral by 2025, has begun to turn an extensive network of bike paths into full-fledged cyclist highways in a bid to push more commuters to leave their cars at home. The Barclays Cycle Super Highways are a similar kind of project rolled out in London, along with the provision of Barclays-blue colored bikes. However, in many world cities ordinary bike lanes do not even exist, and we have encountered a range of initiatives that address this problem. Think of the guerrilla bicycle lanes by Toronto’s Urban Repair Squad, or Anna’s recent article on Luzinterruptus‘ Pedaleo Seguro (‘Safe Biking’) project in Madrid.

Back to bike capital Copenhagen. At the occasion of the UN Climate Summit in 2009, MIT’s Senseable City Lab developed the Copenhagen Wheel, a bike that can be locked and unlocked with a smartphone. Furthermore, “the Copenhagen Wheel transforms ordinary bicycles quickly into hybrid e-bikes that also function as mobile sensing units. The Copenhagen Wheel allows you to capture the energy dissipated while cycling and braking and save it for when you need a bit of a boost. It also maps pollution levels, traffic congestion, and road conditions in real-time”.

This article belongs to the Top 10 Trends For 2011. Over the last year we have been writing articles about urban culture and innovations in cities on a daily basis. Reflecting on 2010 and looking into 2011 we have put together a list with ten of the most remarkable trends that we spotted. We would like to deepen them out a little in a series of articles published this week on Pop-Up City.