Heritage Forum

Cycling and old buildings

Oct 9, 2013 | Forum, News

The new mayor of Rome captured the attention of all conservationists the world over with his plan to forbid all motor transport around the Colosseum. Not only will this restore the status of this UN World Heritage site, but it will also help to protect the building from further damage

Mayor Ignazio Marino, a medical specialist, has already attracted the Italians’ attention y his habit of using a bicycle to traverse the city.

What brings us to the actual  issue for the inhabitants of Stellenbosch:  Does cycling promote eh conservation of (old) buildings? Several initiatives for cycling are being planned for Stellenbosch at present.

Although a considerable amount of research has already been undertaken on the environmentally friendly aspects of cycling, there is little research on the advantages it may have for the built environment. Besides the reduction in the emission of carbon dioxide and other gases that eventually also damage buildings, one would think that a (safe) ride per bicycle would also provide an opportunity for a better experience of the city: the cyclist not only has more time to appreciate the environment, but smells and sounds are also more acute, which leads to a sensually more complete experience.

Cities around the world have of late begun to improve their cycle friendly images. The health of inhabitants and traffic congestion are mostly promoted as reasons.

city-cycling_998808c - londenDavid Cameron, the British premier, recently made £77 million available as impetus to a cycling culture in Britain – London excluded. The money is to be employed to help Manchester, Leeds, Birmingham, Newcastle, Bristol, Cambridge, Oxford and Norwich to get onto the right track.

In London, mayor Boris Johnson, himself a cyclist, this year promised £913 million over the next ten years towards making the city safer and friendlier for bicycles.

The London Cycling Campaign Love London, Go Dutch is aimed at making London streets  just as friendly as those of the Netherlands. In the Netherlands, planning and building the infrastructure that has made it the cycling paradise of today commenced in the 1970s.

In New York, the Citi Bike project of mayor Bloomberg was launched in May 2013 with the generous support of Citigroup who made 6 000 bicycles available at more that 300 “stations” all around Manhattan and parts of Brooklyn.

Vienna, in Austria, also finds itself in the midst of a five-year plan to promote cycling. They, together with 60 other European cities, also signed the Charter of Brussels. Besides strict undertakings to promote the safety of cyclists, these cities envisage making 15% of all driving that is undertaken to be by bicycle by 2015.

In Denmark, work is in progress on around 500 km of cycle super highways in and around Copenhagen, while there are more than 35 000 km of cycling paths in the Netherlands.

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