One of the defining characteristics of working at the art school is the ongoing ebb and flow of objects (mainly crap exhumed from skips) in and out of the studio. Not so with one of the NVA white bikes which seemed to spend a couple of days up here, and which was cherished more fondly that the usual assortment of rubbish. It was however returned to the streets (i think) in the spirit in which it had been placed there.

The white bikes was an interesting project, my only reservation being that they had to be locked up, (probably a concession to a funder somewhere down the line), which meant they were largely only accesible to an art-savvy crowd (it seemed) who knew the lock number and where to get it from. Understandable though, given that the budget had to come from somewhere.

This got me thinking about protest, motorway building, and another transport project at the other end of the budget spectrum – the 5-mile extension of the m74 through the southside of the citycentre. If the £500,000,000 budget for this project were redirected, you could buy 2 million bikes for Glasgow. That’s two per every member of the population of glasgow and surrounding local authorities, or an enormous free-to-access cycle rack, stretching 1000km from end to end or solidly covering 1.5km2*. Bikes would be so ubiquitous they would loose their resale value and not be worth stealing. Some of the money could be diverted to build low-cost sheltered cycle-ways between the city centre and outer regions. The existing motorways would be relieved of some of their traffic, freeing up space for business and haulage and the general health of the population would increase. The reduced wear and tear on the roads would free-up budget for more ambitious capital projects, such as submerging the existing motorway and creating a more ‘connected’ city.

Obviously these types of ideas would instantaneously be written off as nonsensical by people in power who lack even the most basic imagination functions, and see urban mobility in the discredited motorway-building schemes of the individual-mobility modernist post-war years as an innovative solution to todays problems, but it’s nevertheless interesting to compare figures, and see exactly how many bikes 5 miles of motorway could get you.

*all estimates carried out using casio fx 6300g scientific calculator, circa 1992.