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Future Bike: A Recipe for Engaged Design

In addition to being a part of panel discussions, attendees at Future Bike will have a chance to participate in an urban design workshop led by keynote speaker James Rojas. Here’s James’ recipe for urban design as an engagement tool:

Art: Creative Biking Outreach Strategy

Biking is inherently spatial and experiential. For the public, biking is an activity shaped by memories, uses, experiences, and desires. Bike infrastructure is a physical place of reactions, and a mental space of imagination. Through the workshops, participants examine their physical and desired connections with the street to help develop bike projects, plans, and policies.

These workshops make it possible to engage this spatiality in rich and subtle ways that aren’t possible in other urban planning tools. Maps, words, numbers, and computer models are excellent at capturing various aspects of urban space, but necessarily do so in an abstracted way. This simple exercise provides a visual language that everyone can participate in, regardless of typical barriers such as language, age, ethnicity, and professional training. It even allows non-bike users to participate.  As people build their ideal bike infrastructure, new ideas and opportunities emerged that weren’t visible at the beginning.  People are freed from the roles, biases and preconceptions they came with and were able to explore their ideas about the city together in a fluid way. This process allows people to physically engage with the city in a direct way, with their bodies and hands, changing their viewpoint and posture, focusing and standing back, touching and changing things.  

Creative expression can help bike planning. Participants become artists where they can explore, develop, make mistakes, and represent their ideas by constructing it using thousands of found objects. These workshops are an art “process” that creates a new meaningful urban planning form of engagement, communication, and data collection. For planning purposes, it is important to validate participants’ experiences and ideas. The workshop can be a tool to help with community engagement, conflict resolution, and data collection process. The activity will also help people develop their skills like critical thinking, creative problem-solving, collaboration, and civic literacy.

The four creative practices of Imagination, Investigation, Construction and Reflection, form the strategy behind the workshops:

  • IMAGINE – the street
  • INVESTIGATE – the street
  • CONSTRUCT – the street
  • REFLECT – on the street


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