Centering Bikes in the Future of Mobility

Those in search of high-tech solutions for urban congestion and pollution often overlook the bicycle as a powerful, if simple, tool for reducing both and improving urban transportation.

Read Time: 1 minute

September 12, 2022, 12:00 PM PDT

By Diana Ionescu @aworkoffiction


Writing in Next City, Nicolas Collignon argues that it isn’t autonomous or electric vehicles that can change the future of transportation, but rather a much simpler technology: the bicycle. “Sparked by the pandemic, supported by people waking up to the climate crisis and now fuelled by the rising price of oil, we’re living through a bicycle renaissance,” Collignon writes.

Yet a “gap between our imagined future, the promises of techno-kings and the realities of progress” persists. To Collignon, this is in part due to the exciting future visions promised by technologists. But every flying car or delivery robot comes with its own massive set of implications for infrastructure and society. “When we begin to see technology through the lens of systems, it becomes clear that genuine technology-led progress will focus on dealing with the accelerating complexity of today’s world, not increasing the complexity of our tools.”

When it comes to bicycles, Collignon points out that while they are often more efficient and nimble, their very speed and flexibility prevent them from being easily quantified and “optimized” by algorithms. We don’t need to revolutionize the bicycle, “the fastest, most energy efficient, resilient, and lowest carbon emitting urban vehicle,” Collignon writes, but rather change the lens through which we view and organize urban mobility flows.

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