The Future of Biking, and oh, David Byrne!


Nice Ride

Giddy biking and public policy enthusiasts crowded into Minneapolis’ Uptown Theater last night, grabbing pints of Surly brew (in a corn-based compostable cup, no less), and settling in for a panel discussion on “Cities, Bicycles, and the Future of Getting Around,” part of a popular “Policy and a Pint” series sponsored by local public radio station 89.3 The Current.

Headlining panelist David Byrne, avid cycling advocate and former Talking Heads frontman, was no doubt causing some of the buzz—I mean, he’s David Byrne, for heaven’s sake; if you haven’t seen Stop Making Sense, stop reading this blog and go. Go now. Do it. But to be fair, Twin Cities cyclists have also had a lot of other things to get excited about lately: Bicycling named Minneapolis the #1 U.S. city for biking, and that was even before last week, when the initial phase of Nice Ride Minnesota, a spectacular public bike sharing program, got off the ground.

Nice Ride co-sponsored the panel, which also included Minneapolis Mayor R.T. Rybak, author Jay Walljasper, and Steve Clark, manager of Transit for Livable Communities’ Walking and Bicycling Program. (The men rode cheerful green bike-share cruisers down the aisles of the theater.) So, you might ask yourself, what is the future of cities, bicycles, and getting around?

David Byrne delivered a photo-based powerpoint, beginning with slides of suburbs shot from above and termite high-rises (take note: the insects have a better grip on passive heating than we humans), and transitioned into the alienating, futuristic cities imagined by folks like Hugh Ferriss, Frank Lloyd Wright, and Buckminster Fuller. He also showed also a vintage image featuring a super-mega-highway from General Motors—which at the time, Byrne stressed, was the biggest company on “the whole damn planet.” Its vision carried weight.

The evidence of that weight is all over. Byrne began showing photographs from his travels: shots of downtown highway underpasses, barren stretches of road, vacant parking lots, and dead strip malls. “The city is a parking lot,” he said, “and when it’s not a parking lot, it’s a parking structure. This is dead. This is dead life.”

6/28/2010 12:44:27 PM

Once there were parking lots Now they're all covered with daisies Now THAT makes sense ;-)

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