Culture TEDTalks

5 TED Talks about bikes

Posted by: Kate Torgovnick May
Enrique Penalosa shares why he created so many protected bike lanes in Bogota, Colombia. Photo: Ryan Lash

Enrique Penalosa shares why he created so many protected bike lanes in Bogota, Colombia. Photo: Ryan Lash

“I don’t think protected bicycle ways are a cute architectural feature. They are a right, just as sidewalks are,” says Enrique Peñalosa, the former mayor of Bogota, Colombia, in today’s talk. “Protected bikeways also are a powerful symbol of democracy, because they show that a citizen on a $30 bicycle is equally important to one in a $30,000 car.”

Enrique Peñalosa: Why buses represent democracy in actionEnrique Peñalosa: Why buses represent democracy in actionFrom 1998 to 2000, when Peñalosa was mayor, he got international attention for the bold moves he made in the area of transportation. Not only did he create lanes on roads exclusively for buses — since they carry many people as opposed to just a few — he also created 350 kilometers of protected bikeways, long before Paris, London and New York did the same.

Existing cities need to rethink their reliance on cars, says Peñalosa, and cities which are being built must harness the opportunity to provide transportation for all their citizens. Watch his talk for his vision of cities of the future, where greenways crisscross in all directions forming “bicycle highways” and where streets are reserved “only for pedestrians and bicycles.”

Then, below, watch several more great talks that highlight the need for bikes.

Shimon Schocken: What a bike ride can teach youShimon Schocken: What a bike ride can teach you Shimon Schocken: What a bike ride can teach you
Computer science professor Shimon Schocken has a weekly mountain biking club — for offenders in a juvenile prison in Israel. In this talk from TEDxTelAviv, he shares how the club teaches these young people how to deal with life’s frustrations, gives them a sense of freedom that they are simply cut off from, and gives them time to reflect on their emotions. As Schocken puts it, “When I reach the summit of a steep mountain in the middle of nowhere, I feel young, invincible, eternal.”
Janette Sadik-Khan: New York's streets? Not so mean any moreJanette Sadik-Khan: New York's streets? Not so mean any moreJanette Sadik-Khan: New York’s streets? Not so mean any more
During her tenure as the transportation commissioner of New York City, Janette Sadik-Khan spent a lot of time thinking about bikers. Her team created an interconnected network of bike lanes — 350 miles worth — throughout the city. “In six years, we turned cycling into a real transportation option in New York,” she says proudly in this talk from TEDCity2.0. At the same time, she also shares the story of New York City’s ambitious bike-share program, which is 6,000 bikes strong.
Amos Winter: The cheap all-terrain wheelchairAmos Winter: The cheap all-terrain wheelchairAmos Winter: The cheap all-terrain wheelchair
40 million people need wheelchairs and don’t have them — the majority of those people living in rural areas without paved roads where a chair wouldn’t actually help that much. Amos Winter and his team at MIT set out to make a chair for these individuals that would be rugged, durable, and very low-cost. At TEDxBoston, he reveals his inspiration: the mountain bike.
Charles Leadbeater: The era of open innovationCharles Leadbeater: The era of open innovationCharles Leadbetter: The era of open innovation
Speaking of the mountain bike: who invented it? This is a question Charles Leadbetter poses in his talk from TEDGlobal 2005. No, it wasn’t an R&D department at a company or even an individual with a great idea. As he explains, “The mountain bike came from users … who were frustrated with traditional racing bikes … but also frustrated with the bikes that your dad rode.” It’s a perfect example of the new model of innovation, which happens by collaboration.