How Architecture Can Make A City More Bike-Friendly

Bernat Armangue / associated press

Listen to the interview.

When Atlanta finally kicked off its bike share program last week, city officials boasted of the new infrastructure in place for cyclists, like buffered bikes lanes.

But according to Rosser International architect Michael Kahn, that’s not all there is to being a bike-friendly city. In an interview with WABE, Kahn discussed how the design of a city’s buildings can also play a role in whether its residents hop on their bikes.

“It’s not an Atlanta issue,” Kahn said, but “current buildings don’t provide adequate bike parking or storage facilities. Very few buildings in the city to this point offer end-of-trip facilities — so, locker rooms to store gear, a place to shower or a place to change from biking where you were going. Right off the bat, that makes it very difficult on cyclists to bike and go about their daily lives.”

Some of the newer buildings in Atlanta, particularly around the Beltline, show developers and architects are starting to prioritize the needs of cyclists, Kahn said. Residents can encourage more designers and developers to build for bicycles “with their wallets”– that is, by choosing to live in more bike-friendly developments. Architects, Kahn said, should also take it upon themselves to design around cyclists, especially in a visible way.


“Park the bikes in a big glass box, or do something unique. There have been proposals to ramp a bike trail up a skyscraper so you can bike to your floor,” Kahn said. “There are a lot of options. And by creating these off-the-wall instances and by making biking visible and unique, it encourages more people to then utilize that infrastructure and validates the developers putting in the extra money to make that happen.”