Bespoke Community Building
An unexpected benefit of the global proliferation of bike share programs is the emergence of informal urban social spaces. Hailed as ideal triangulators, we now know that bike share stations can encourage concentrations of social interaction and activity because they bring a diverse stream of people together at all hours, and create an environment where people feel comfortable engaging in casual communication with strangers, who are now their fellow bike share users.
With concerns over loitering, crime prevention, and sleeping on city property or public spaces, cities sometimes employ subtle design tactics that can discourage people from sitting and congregating. However, in an attempt to make Vancouver more connected, the City’s Engaged City Task Force seeks to improve community engagement at a neighbourhood level through participatory research in collaboration between the City and residents. Vancouver also plans to launch a bike-share system in 2014. With these initiatives in mind, what if city planners decided to capitalize on the natural tendency for people to congregate around bike shares and proactively build in a social space component into future share stations?
As inspiration, planners could look to German artist Oliver Shau, whose bright yellow flexible plastic piping has been creating impromptu street seats for people all over Hamburg, or Store MUU’s ‘Cycle in Desk’ concept. Alternatively, anyone wanting to take matters into their own hands, can look to LA-based artist Sarah Ross’ Archisuits that are creatively reintegrating seating and comfort into public spaces.
[Top Image: David M Nelson]