The Cycle-Station Project

2.0 Sustainable Transport - At the crossroads




"Motorised transport is the single most disruptive polluting ensemble system of technology of various technology systems". Otto Ullrich, The Greening Of Transport

It is now generally recognised that the current transport situation as it is, is not only unsustainable but is a significant part of the cause of Global Warming, increased health risks, and may well visit much greater challenges on this planet in the lifetimes of younger generations if not sooner. If these are major themes of our times there is also a possible more mundane if equally clear realisation that even if these problems did not exist, people's quality of living is becoming increasingly less enjoyable and unfulfilled by the continuing embrace of the culture of the road and the private car. This is specifically the case in this country, because of the character of limited space within a relatively small though highly populated island. Whilst there is considerable public debate about the problems around car-dependent cultures, across a range of opinions the reality is that the total number of cars on the road continues to increase, and is expected to continue to do so, being presently estimated to triple over the next twenty years. At the same time the various pledges, from carbon emissions made at Rio in 1990 to the promise by the new British government of radical changes in transport policy, are only being met in sketchy fashion, and the car goes from strength to strength in its' cultural iconic significance providing environmental radicalism with an increasingly potent autogeddonist hate object. Whilst there are various reports which grandly state the importance of changing the nature and character of how the transport system is organised in this country, it appears that only a degree of tinkering is actually occurring rather than a fundamental change in people's travelling patterns.

The Sustrans National Cycle Network is a strategic exception to the above and also a primary transportation initiative which has managed to get underway and demonstrate some of the possibilities of remaking the order of transportation in this country. Facilitating a modal shift in people's transport habits from the car to foot, bicycle and rail is a fundamental objective of the National Cycle Network. The Cycle Station concept is conceived to build on this. It also wants to extend the publics' current sympathy and good will towards cycling; to add to the infrastructure of the network demonstrating the potential of a range of design ideas based around low energy option transport; and to suggest how cycling and the uses of the Cycle Network can be psychologically attractive to those sections of society who view private transport as the only realistic future option.

An initial plank of the Solar-Station project therefore, is to build on the potential popularity of the National Cycle Network by integrating in multi-purpose 'rest and create' facilities for the cyclist and others to make the Cycle-Routes even more attractive. A second purpose is to make the link in the public mind between Green Transport and Green Design. A third factor is to further this connection by using the centres as Information Resources on the local nature on and around the relevent Cycle-Routes. Part of the primary educational idea of this project is a hands-on way of demonstrating the linkage between the the environment and transport.

By building Green Transport facilities you are not only providing a practical future-facing alternative, but you are also psychologically reinforcing the example twofold, bringing the sustainable message to the forefront of consciousness. Add to this the possibilities for eco-literacy in such centres and there is a thoroughly practical threefold option to bring before the public.

Part of the primary educational idea of this project is, thus, a hands on-way of demonstrating connections between environment, design and transport.