Sept 2007
Bicycle mile

Concept development

January 2004
xyz bicycle resource
prototypes for community
bicycles and infrastructure


The bicycle mile is a suggestion for a social currency based on the number of miles cycled by a person. The circulation of a proposed bicyclemile currency would correlate the mobility and circulation of people using bicycles and human powered means with other forms of human mobility.
The concept is proposed to address the imbalances created by information-rich network societies. By its use, the bicyclemile would act as a tool creating ecological correspondences, within cities and with the rest of the planetary ecosystem.

The network society produces what may be called new 'externalities' created mainly by culturally mediated and culturally produced wants. Externality is a phrase used by economists to describe hidden ecological costs not factored into market prices and therefore invisible. This cost is paid for by the environment and by ordinary people, mainly the poor. Externalities usually imply environmental depletion or social degradation. One example would be the amount of raw material needed for a single ounce of gold or nickel or tantalum, which leaves in its wake some 20 tons of mine waste along with CO2 emisions and other unaccounted social and human costs.

The externalities of mobility and digital networking require new forms of social tools to address their hidden material ecology. Since Kyoto, to redress the damage to the physical environment and curb global warming, the 'green economy' and the new carbon market mainly for carbon offsetting have been instituted. Ironically offsetting has now become a large speculative market. Today it is estimated that there are four million hectares of commercial carbon offsetting plantations around the world; by 2020 the World Bank projects a carbon offsetting market of $150 billion annually. In this growing market, the power imbalances that lie at the root of the ecological equation remain untouched.
To balance this new social tools like the bicycle mile are needed.

bicycle mile

5 / The Circle line presents the ideal 'city wall' to generate new circuits for cycling. To begin with, bike nodes can be at points outside one or two stations and grow out sideways so that the Circle is completed. The bikes can be picked up outside any station and dropped off at any. The Circle acts as a new kind of 'wall', not of controlled movement but a civil resource.

4 / Despite its congestion London abounds with 'left-over' spaces or dead spaces which have potential for fulfilling new social functions. Dead spaces are the consequence of bureaucracy and proprietorship of public space. However the small scale of a dead space is ideal for generating new lines of micro-social activity outside of consumer exchange

3 / Bicycles: colour coded like the London tube lines - thus yellow bikes – circle line, the bikes act as working symbols.
Different colour bicycles weaving through the city on different circuits.

2 / Locations and communities: creating nodes and hubs for cyclists: this would generate necessary facilities to coordinate a culture of cycling as a form of mass transport. This is missing in the architectural landscape at present

1 / London: the London Underground map ironically gives us the best single portrait of the city : of how London works as a city and more importantly how it does not work in a new century. The tube map may be likened to closed circuits: it gets you there but the user is both a passive and captive consumer. Cycling on the other hand is a reversal of this. The ideal is to create an integrated model of the two.

xyz bicycle starting ideas

The bicycle is a model means of transport but also a personal tool that requires care and maintenance.
Energywise the bicycle maybe autonomous, but it raises problems when it becomes a collective shared tool.
It can become another throw-away commodity.

In our fast moving culture of constant upgrades and new models, the cycle is an example of a technology that does not change. The bicycle is an unchanging form that invites the potential of new technology to create new forms of social interaction: now made possible by the participative potential of the internet.

20 used bicycles were taken apart, and rebuilt as yellow xyz bicycles in reference to the Circle line of the London underground map: a recycle-bicycle resource (a background ).

xyz began as a small scale prototype bicycle resource which could be up-scaled to a city scale. The operating principle was that bikes should be available for the same price as a daily travel card on public transport. The resource was operating from 2004 to 2007.

xyz bicycles 2004


This xyz resource operated for 3 years and ended in 2007.
It had an online booking platform.

Bicyclemile proposal
added as its feasible with new smart phone operating systems in case any interested developers read this page.

The xyz bikes were given away at the end of the 3 year experiment.
Chance meetings with the bikes are always a pleasure especially to see that some are still being maintained and in regular use;
this one was at Red Lion Square London on May 29 2011.


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