As you can see, the car is so out of place in the city. And yet, until recently, we thought the city was the home of the car. I recall my father, who was an economist, returning from an official visit to China (this was in 1984) and explaining that two things struck him most about Beijing: It had no birds in the sky (he assumed they had all been eaten) and everyone went around on bicycles. At the time, this abundance of bicycles was seen as a sign of economic underdevelopment. A highly developed city had lots of cars and an infrastructure for car mobility. This thinking is now slowly changing. Poor cities like Bogota no longer see the end of development in the car and instead are investing in an infrastructure of bikes; and rich cities like Copenhagen now see bikes as the more developed and rational end of urban transportation. Developing cities are stopping where they are and rich cities are reversing from where they are. Real progress can only be made by detaching the car from the narrative of economic development.
What is an urban bike, anyway?
You can commute, get some fresh air, or fetch groceries on pretty much any bike that rolls. But urban bicycles are a developing class of bike which falls between skinny tired, racing-style bicycles and their burly offroad cousins, the mountain bike. They're known by a lot of trade names: city bikes, commuters, town bicycles and hybrids. Generally speaking, urban bikes are optimized for reliable city travel.