Since the late 1700s, cities have been impacted by the different means of transportation that they provide. Urban planners have increasingly faced challenges in adapting infrastructure systems to accommodate new forms of mobility. One of the issues nowadays is the dense presence of the bicycle in the city as a form of sustainable transportation.
In Milan, BikeMi, along with private owned bicycles, has started to overrun the city. The bike-sharing program began in 2008 and is aimed at promoting sustainable mobility that supplements the traditional transport vehicles. These bike stations are implemented in key locations like train stations, the historic center, and business districts. University programs such as Campus Sostenibile are also bringing BikeMi to their neighborhood as a way of promoting sustainability.
But even if the program is quite popular, there are still some issues that urban planners need to take into consideration.
One issue is that Milan requires a proper network of bike paths. The city has a very dense urban structure, and this makes it hard to adapt for a new mobility system like the bicycle. The current routes in place are disconnected and awkwardly grouped, and lack connections between stations.
Another aspect regards accessibility to the service. Citizens and tourists argue that BikeMi is complicated to use “on the spot.” This is due to the fact that you have to first access the website and register of the service online, which restricts one from the ability to spontaneously rent a bike.
In Italy, scooters are currently the most used alternative to the automobile. But it appears that the bicycle is ready to take over Italian cities with the introduction of bikesharing programs. Turin, Rome, and Verona have also adopted a more sustainable transportation system by implementing bike-sharing.
At a global level, these types of sustainable mobility programs are already very developed in cities like Paris, London and Washington DC, while Copenhagen is an example of a cycling city. But most cities still face issues when it comes to redesigning a proper infrastructure that can integrate the use of the bicycle.
Do you think bicycles will help shape the form of the city in the future?
Credits: Photographs by Alexandra Serbana. Data linked to sources.