Wednesday 9 August 2017 06.30 BST
Velotopia is as circular as the topography has allowed, for the usual reason that citizens are always clamouring to live near the civic centre.
Development has been restricted to level ground and city limits have been restricted to a diameter of 15km. That ensures average commuting distances of less than 7km and average trip times of less than 30 minutes by bike.
The 15km limits define an area of 177 sq km. Development control guidelines are designed to ensure that at least 30,000 people live in every square kilometre, the average density across Manhattan (including the parks).
No disciples of Le Corbusier, Harvey Corbett, Robert Moses or Norman Bel Geddes have been to Velotopia. That means there are no highways and no racks of car-parking stations. Neither have any disciples of Ebenezer Howard been there to suggest that development be clustered around satellite towns with train connections back to the core.
Velotopia has never sought the services of mobility experts, so has no P&R (park and ride), ERP (electronic road pricing), PRT (personal rapid transport), HOV lanes (high-occupancy vehicle), LRT systems (light rail transit), or anything else that might seem essential because it is described by an acronym. In fact, it is completely car-free. Velotopia has a ground plane where nothing is allowed to threaten or obstruct cycling.
Whenever stakeholder groups are formed for consultation on matters of planning or public life, their constitution requires that the majority be parents of young children. There is no charity or positive discrimination at play here. They simply want to optimise conditions for a group that makes many trips in a day and whose work – raising the next generation – has a great influence on the city’s wealth and productivity in the long term.
Successive committees of parents have voted against a rail network throughout the city. It is sufficient, they have said, to have a few solar-powered electric carts available to collect them at times when they are physically unable to cycle.
Velotopia has a small but efficient fleet of these electric carts.They are limited to 15 kph to ensure they always fall in behind bicycle traffic. Nevertheless, they benefit from the city’s smooth flow. They never have to slow down or stop, so the connectivity speed is much faster.
The city doesn’t need traffic lights as there is no risk of high-speed collisions. Instead there are small roundabouts, raised on elevated mounds. Rising on to the mounds, bikes naturally shed enough speed to safely filter through, before regaining their lost speed as they descend.