Laura Bliss is a staff writer at CityLab, covering transportation, infrastructure, and the environment. She also authors MapLab, a biweekly newsletter about maps that reveal and shape urban spaces (subscribe here). Her work has appeared in the New York Times, The Atlantic, Los Angeles, GOOD, L.A. Review of Books, and beyond.
Bicycling advocates in Latvia braved the rain for a witty demonstration on the humble bike's economy of space.
A big ol' helmet-tip to Joseph Stromberg at Vox, who dug up this remarkably effective demonstration of the automobile's poor economy of space, courtesy cycling advocates in the Republic of Latvia.
As part of International Car Free Day on September 22, Riga-based bike advocate Viesturs Silenieks had the idea to construct car-sized wearables from what looks to be bamboo and twine. He and local cycling group Divrintenis* then donned the skeletal sedans and went about their morning commute, adding noticeably to overall traffic congestion. These photos were later posted to the Russian social network vk.com.
As Stromberg points out, there have been several photographed demonstrations of the bicycle's superior spatial economy as compared to cars in recent years. But the Latvians' suggestion of "phantom space" consumed by vehicles also reminded me of Danish urbanist Mikael Colville-Andersen's "The Arrogance of Space." It's a series of color/photo-overlays that reveal the astonishing discrepancies in how much room cities bestow to different modes of transit.
A sweet video and more images from the Latvian stunt below: