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It is a “stupid stupid bridge“. From Arch Daily comes this little gem which shows that even the smart folks in Copenhagen do occasionally mess up. As colleague Elyse Parker with the City of Toronto Engineering department notes, sometimes by building a bad example you know why you won’t repeat the same mistake again. Meet the Inner Harbour Bridge, one of seventeen new bridges and underpasses built for bicycles and opened in July 2016. It has surpassed daily estimates of usage with 16,000 cyclists using it instead of the proposed 3,000 to 7,000. And author Mikael Colville-Andersen, after acknowledging that this bridge does allow people to cross the water (as bridges are inclined to do) eviscerates the designers.

“But it is a cumbersome, beastly thing that is completely and utterly out of place in the delicate urban, historical, and architectural context of its location, and a fantastic overcomplication of the simple, timeless art of bridges that open and close… After millennia with perfectly functional designs to cross water like drawbridges and swing bridges, this architect decided to overcomplicate the concept. The bridge meets in the middle, where the two sides “kiss.” A nice, giggly idea on a distant architecture office desk but quite stupid in practice. It proved incredibly difficult to make the giggly idea work.”

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The bridge includes two sharp turns or chicanes that punt cyclists beyond the threshhold of safety and comfort. “These chicanes pose serious problems that are clearly visible for anyone to see. You can see from the bicycle tracks when it rains that people just cut the corners of them. People crown the bridge in the middle and then speed up, but many people fail to realize that the architect wasn’t capable of a straight line and they slam on the brakes and hit the glass. I don’t know if anyone has gone over the edge into the water, but the physics provide a perfect storm.”

And there is more. The grade to the bridge is too steep, not designed for the average city cyclist. Instead of a simple boom barrier to bar cyclists when the bridge is opened for boats, there are “huge, groaning barriers that rise like creatures from the black lagoon “. There are also no ramps on the pedestrian stairs accessing the bridge, a surprising blunder. “Is using municipal funds to experiment with giggly, freestyle designs really a good idea? The bridge was also funded by a philanthropic fund—but does that mean that we don’t have to be rational when we get free stuff?”

I expect we will be hearing more about the Inner Harbour bridge, its design form and function.