Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Design & Walkability

Design is a large part of what makes life enjoyable for me. In this talk by Rob Forbes, he lays out examples of design that he sees in everyday public spaces. He notes that the cities that he goes to to find good high design are usually cities with strong pedestrian or biking cultures. He doesn't make any causal claims, and notes that those cities usually also have universities, which could explain the correlation. It is still interesting to note that the cities known for fashion, design, and architecture are are walkable and urban.

My thoughts on why this is are twofold. First, when you are not in a car, you are visible to others, but you are hidden if you are in a car. It does not matter what you look like, only what your car looks like. This can explain why pedestrians are often more fashionably dressed than drivers, despite the fact that there are less functional requirements than when you are sitting. Additionally, since everyone is driving along at high speeds, what buildings and streets look like is not really important because you will be by it in a few seconds. In contrast, when you are walking, biking, skateboarding, or scootering, you are acutely aware of the built environment because you are not ensconced in your own bubble.

Sunday, April 17, 2011

More Proof That Sitting is Bad for You - As if You Needed It

The New York Times has an article on new results of studies on weight gain, and unsurprisingly it says that the more sedentary you are, the more weight you will gain. The new development is that the study showed that exercising did not offset the effects of sitting for the greater part of the day. It says, "Being sedentary for nine hours a day at the office is bad for your health whether you go home and watch television afterward or hit the gym."

I think this brings up some interesting questions about the health benefits of utility cycling. If the only change in lifestyle is that you pedal to get to work and back, there might not be large health effects, though if you are riding long distances I am sure it would add up. I think this shows why biking can't be presented as a cure all. I think that most people who start to bike become much more physically active in other areas of their life, so there is a shift to a healthier lifestyle, but there is a danger of over emphasizing the benefits which will lead to unrealistic expectations and disillusionment.

Thursday, April 7, 2011


Portlandize recently wrote about his experiences crashing, and how he was surprised by how minor of an event it was. My experiences have been similar. All but one of the times that I have fallen while riding have been mountain biking, and it never really disrupted my ride. The one time I fell on the road I sprained my wrist, but that has been the extent of my biking injuries. I think that Dave has a good point that often we think of crashing as being a traumatic experience, with broken collarbones and hospital stays, but that is not usually the case.