John Metcalfe was CityLab’s Bay Area bureau chief, covering climate change and the science of cities.
Cycling in Vancouver just got a little more wild.
Imagine the feeling of freshness, of delight that a bicycle commuter would get if the daily ride involved soaring through the air like a majestic eagle. That was recently the reality in Vancouver, where a section of bike path grew fun little ramps promising to send strong pedalers into low orbit.
The "Whoopdeedoo Bike Ramps" are the brainchildren of designer Greg Papove, who staggered them on a trail at West 2nd Avenue and Cambie Street for the city's recent Bike to Work Week. Papove, an urban visionary who also created this geometrically pleasing place-holder for parking spots, emailed this explanation for the suddenly undulating path:
The city of Vancouver is trying to develop more bike paths, but gets a lot of resistance from drivers. I thought the Whoopdeedoo project would be a good way to start a dialogue about transportation in the city. Cycling is fast, fun, easy, and healthy (and the list goes on). It is a great way to get around for a lot of people. I wanted to reward the cyclists with something fun, while also making the reward visible to drivers, to ideally encourage them to get out of their cars and onto a bike. The ramp has a smooth transition that is easier to ride over than most speed bumps in the city, making it easy for riders of all ages and comfort levels.
The ramp has a bright, fun aesthetic to catch the attention of both cyclists and drivers who can see it from the road. A centre line was included to assist with orientation when approaching the ramp. The flags offer an element of safety by providing the feeling of side walls when rolling over the ramp so the user will stay centred and away from the edges.
(The snazzy signage on the path, by the way, is the work of Vancouver's Claire Balderston.)
With these ramps, Papove is looking into the future of transportation in his hometown. Vancouver's 2040 transpo plan stresses the need to make biking "safe, convenient, comfortable and fun for people of all ages and abilities." Maybe these ramps aren't 100 percent safe – I mean, not everybody will be able to resist attempting to do a bad-ass bike flip off of them – but they do seem to fulfill the other criteria.