What does unicity mean I hear you asking? It means I am asking what is uniquely and universally attractive about cycling that continues to make it an effective form of transport locally and globally? I also use the word 'unicity' because it is part of my futures and strategy method, "The Unicity Method", that I use with city leader clients to establish what is going to keep them inspired and in business as the world transforms itself toward 2030. The method investigates a network of:
Uniting unique and universal desired possibilities
Un-tying undesired possibilities
Cycling contributes to our health, happiness and connectivity, and we can actively create cities to increase cyclist numbers, but why should we do this? The obvious argument that I see around the world is that cycling increases business productivity and economy. Cyclist authors struggle to make this connection between cycling and economy - and yes the connection is really there, but I argue there are systemic reasons for why this effect is happening in cities, from a circular economy perspective. Cycling offers an innovation space and market. New ideas making it to market include:
A retractable sail giving cyclists a boost from wind power on long rides
An extendable cargo rack on an e-bike
Creation of new global cycling platforms
But it is not until you look at the systemic reasons for cycling from the perspective of Futures thinking, using the Unicity Futures Method for example, that additional arguments became clear. What makes cycling unique? It is transport at a pace that enables cyclists to take in what they see, while their minds are stimulated from exercising their legs and shoulders and while their awareness of the immediate environment is very high - for obvious reasons of determining traffic movements in their cycling pathway. They see the area they are traversing as a continual pathway, taking in every 10-200 metres they travel across and images at the street-view level. That is the experience of the cyclist that I wish to talk about, because it is that experience that opens cyclists to being attracted to and influenced by an area's local amenity - it's vibe, scenic beauty, air quality, attractiveness of local estates, houses, shops, infrastructure, even trees, foreshores, country vistas, mountains, beaches and other scenic features. So while cyclists are affected by what they see, a large number of cyclists are also investors. While cycling through an industrial estate, they may see warehouses, businesses, land, and products and services they may wish to purchase to invest, or work in or while cycling through residential areas, cyclists are disposed to what they see - long enough to make a decision to live in an area. Cyclists are a live stream of cultural activity - a hive of mind activated individuals seeing the advantages and disadvantages of each suburb they travel by. This brings me to my next point, that if a city wishes to build this live stream of individuals many of whom are also investors for the short and long-term, they can do that - but which cities are uniquely disposed to attracting cyclists? Cities that have improved: infrastructure (making roads safer through dedicated cycling lanes), urban design of areas (creating cycling stations with water fountains, seating and bike racks, improving a shopping or activity hub such as a playground/parkland/mini-sports hub (half-court basketball/tennis/rose gardens (e.g. Newfarm Park), or even by putting pathways on a cycling map and designating particular shops or hubs as cyclist friendly / cyclist paradise. Now if an area such as Redland City Council that has had a long established history of being an almost-cyclist paradise can be taken as an example, it should be that the cycling community itself can be expanded many times over in such a location. Redland City is unique because it is in between major cities of Brisbane, Gold Coast and Logan, and is nestled on the edge of ecotopian Redland Bay, with bushland reserves, parklands and bushland acreages of all types in all directions. This City could be unique for cycling advantages if it chose to be. It also has the populous cities around it in similar conditions to sustain a cycling lifestyle, with cycling friendly cities also in all directions - flat even pathways connected by good infrastructure linking in and out of local and major State roads. You can cycle through mixed suburb types providing a real sense of adventure with each suburb passed being a milestone achieved. So that's what is unique about cycling and what is unique about Redland and inter-connected cities.
What is universal in cycling, that happens globally that would mean cycling is valuable to our cities?
1. Cycling is sustainable and affordable [- it fills a gap in the low-socioeconomic demographic helping poor kids get to school on time, enabling parents time to get to work. - it is cheap for towns that have small populations to invest in cycling. - it involves low manufacturing emissions. - it involves no rider emissions].
2. More cyclists means fewer cars on our already congested roads.
3. Cycling infrastructure boosts cycling as much as 200%.
4. Better place design and conditions encourages cyclists and pedestrians into an area for shopping.
5. Increased cycling increases our health and happiness.
6. Better cycling infrastructure results in better connectivity, meaning commuting to and from work, schools, shopping centres, and other lifestyle hubs is enabled, accessible and is an easy, smooth, fun and sustainable experience.
For example, in Cambridge, cycling increased 85% because of better infrastructure. Imagine this weekend, you have arrived at a Sydney CBD hotel, and your concierge advises you to plan no trips to the Northern Beaches because of traffic congestion. It happened to me, I ate traffic jam for breakfast all the way to Manly one Saturday morning. What is happening to our way of life that we can’t travel to the beach in the manner we want to? Does it no longer matter how long it takes for us to get to work and home?
Uniting and un-tying preferred and un-preferred cycling unique and universal futures
Read on for aspects of cycling that could unite or untie your day cycling in 2030 - only ten years from now.
A DAY IN THE LIFE
I've awoken to the perfect day in the life of a cyclist. We boost our workday by cycling through local streets for a surge of oxygen, adrenalin, scenery and emotion. The transition to electric cars has reduced street pollution. Autonomous vehicles occupy the roads. Cheap electric commuter cycles, road congestion for drivers and dedicated cycle lanes has created a mass cycling trend. I throw off my air-bag jacket and call out to Google, “Post to cycling network: had an amazing ride, the sun rising, no obstacles on the road – that new road sweeper crew works wonders”. Social networks for cyclists sustain interest and commitment to our cycling passion.
On my journey to work, I use the City Bike Valet which is a fast exchange bike park, shower and ride facility. There are dedicated lanes for use by pedestrian carts, taxi-cycles and e-bot merchants. I love this new combination of planned infrastructure, that completes the trip to the workplace, or shopping and VR cinemas. Most impressive in 2030 is artificial intelligence bicycles. Your bike’s interface (i-watch and mounted display) prompts where to ride for least congestion and most enjoyment and when your cholesterol is high.
I’m meeting a friend for lunch, so I head to the Valet and cycle another 5km to the hipster vegetarian restaurant known as LC. I leave my bike at the rear of the building safe with fingerprint security, and an auto-lock. The bike has rimless wheels, built in lights and GPS locator.
Safety designs improve cycling. Regional and city bike memberships include accident insurance, but it is better not to have to use it. Three types of cycling lanes exist around parklands and significant precincts in cities, for sturdy commuters, casual riders and for beginners. There’s also a third lane for walkers, wheelchairs and prams.
Solar powered led lights on low-posts light up via a phone app as cyclists ride through. When cycling off-road, my drone flies above me lighting my pathway and adding to my visibility for other cyclists and pedestrians.
On any day, I can choose to take my bike onto light, heavy and high-speed rail systems into neighbouring cities. Today, I decided to use the river ferry as part of my journey cycling home.
Cycling will help you burn belly fat and increase your self-image. It will positively affect your fitness levels and boost your sex life too. Tomorrow is the weekend, and I will be attending a cycling workshop after a morning ride along a bushland tourism trail. By 2030, 40% of all short trips are by bicycle.
Cycling could save cities $25 trillion and 10% of transport CO2 emissions by 2050 (Union Cycliste Internationale). Cycling pathways can better connect with jobs, schools, housing and shopping by 2030. What would an increase in cycling look like in 2030 in a city near you? It would probably display infrastructure, design features, cycling stations, cycling maps, and would be connected throughout the city with linkages to other cities. It would also encourage dual lanes for cyclists and would separate cars from cycle-ways as much as possible.