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UCL symposium on cycling and culture: are your tyres fully inflated?

ucyow3c9 May 2014

pencil-icon By Thomas Cohen

Or so read the tweet announcing the imminent start of this event on 1 May, which took place under the auspices of the UCL Transport Institute, in connection with its transport and culture theme.

Chairing was Professor Iain Borden of the Bartlett School of Architecture.  He set the wheels in motion with a challenge to the audience: how do we talk about aspects of cycling culture? Are they ineffable? “The feeling of the body as it spins its legs and cycles its bicycle and spins through the streets of London…it’s actually not very easy to put that into words.” Nine speakers then attempted to do just that.

Flickr - http://bit.ly/1g3D3aA

Flickr – http://bit.ly/1g3D3aA

There was a diverse audience at the event, from representatives of London Cycling Campaign to local authority officers, transport consultants, plus a healthy sprinkling of UCL folk. Everyone got stuck into the subject matter and the debate was typically robust, as you might expect at a cycling event.

Michael Hebbert (UCL Bartlett School of Planning) wowed us with a vision of the boulevard as purpose-built for urban living, with the bicycle centre-stage.  “There is a lot to be said about the erotics of cycling down a street canyon, feeling the built environment form caressing you on either side of your face as you cycle,” intoned the professor.

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