The benefits of bicycles are significant both for the humans that ride them and the environment they live in, but they're not everybody's cup of tea when it comes to getting around. The Bicycle Architecture Biennale is an annual exhibition that explores how design and architecture can be leveraged to make traveling on two wheels more appealing, driving its message home with an awe-inspiring mix of thoughtfully placed bridges, elevated cycleways and the largest bike parking garage in the world.
"What we saw in the 20th century, was that cities were being planned around increasing and inspiring car use, and what we're seeing now at the Bicycle Architecture Biennale is that we can find other ways of building that inspire more architects, thought leaders, urban planners to really put the bicycle first," says Lee Feldman, co-founder of BYCS, the Amsterdam-based social enterprise behind the Bicycle Architecture Biennale. "And that could inspire drivers to shift from using a car to using a bike."
This, the second year of the Bicycle Architecture Biennale, features 15 projects in all. These were handpicked from designers around the globe for how they demonstrate the benefits of putting bikes first in, which includes promoting healthy lifestyles, cleaner environments and economic benefits. The selection includes 11 finished projects along with four design concepts.
Among the more impressive projects is the completed Xiamen Bicycle Skyway, which allows cyclists to travel freely along a dedicated 8-km (5-mi) closed pathway above the busy city streets below. Connecting five major residential areas and three business centers, the Xiamen Bicycle Skyway is the first suspended bike path in China and the longest aerial bicycle lane in the world, according to architects behind it, Dissing+Weitling.
Equally eye-catching and perhaps even more imaginative is Cycling Through Water, a 200-meter (650-ft) bike path that cuts through a pond as part of a larger route network in Limberg, Belgium. The seemingly submerged stretch of concrete cycleway brings the water surface to eye level on either side. Time magazine named Cycling Through Water one of its Greatest Places in 2018.
And on the more practical side of things is a three-story bicycle parking garage built for Utrecht Central Station by Ector Hoogstad Architecten. Described as the largest bike parking garage in the world with room for more than 12,000 bicycles, the facility allows folks to pedal up to their parking spot, with gently sloping ramps connecting the different levels.
This year's Bicycle Architecture Biennale launched in Amsterdam this month and is set for an international tour, with stops planned for Oslo, Rome and Gent. By showcasing the very best of cycling-oriented design in this way, BYCS hopes to inspire new ways of thinking around how we plan cities, and ultimately help drive adoption of cycling as a means of more environmentally friendly transport.
"If we can get to half of all trips by bicycle in the next decade, then we really have a chance to heal this planet," says Feldman.
For a glimpse of all 15 selected projects, jump on into the gallery.
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