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Safe Cyclist Freeways Planned for London's Skyline in 20 Years

Jan. 7th, 2014 | Comments 0 | Make a Comment   
skycycle
Photo Courtesy of Foster + Partners

London’s residents may be looking at a new skyline in 20 years with a proposed SkyCycle project that aims to create bicycle routes that sit high above existing suburban railway corridors. Foster + Partners and Space Syntax are collaborating on creating a secure, wide deck above trains that would give cyclists approximately 136 miles of car-free roads.

The cycling freeways would be accessible at over 200 locations and each route can accommodate 12,000 cyclists per hour. Aside from the better air quality benefits of biking, the catchment area will be available to almost six million people. Of those, half live nearby and within 10 minutes of an entrance and those taking the path will have their journey improve by 29 minutes. Room60, a creative team with a background in landscape architecture, created a short animation of what the project would look like.

"Cycling is one of my great passions – particularly with a group of friends. And I believe that cities where you can walk or cycle, rather than drive, are more congenial places in which to live. To improve the quality of life for all in London and to encourage a new generation of cyclists, we have to make it safe,” said Lord Foster, Founder and Chairman of Foster + Partners. “However, the greatest barrier to segregating cars and cyclists is the physical constraint of London’s streets, where space is already at a premium. SkyCycle is a lateral approach to finding space in a congested city. By using the corridors above the suburban railways, we could create a world-class network of safe, car free cycle routes that are ideally located for commuters."

 skycycle
Photo Courtesy of Foster + Partners

Currently, London’s transportation systems are at capacity and a projected 12 percent growth is set to take place over the next decade. SkyCycle will come at a time when the Mayor is looking for additional ways to make London the best major city in the world. Over the last 10 years, cycling in the city has grown by 70 percent but falls short of other UK and European cities. The cyclist freeways will also make the most efficient use of the city’s limited space and already crowded streets.

Part of this may be due to the 20 percent death or serious casualty rates seen among daily bikers that only make up 2 percent of London’s daily journeyers. The proposed plans will identify how the city can be turned into a safer place for cyclists and a more environmentally friendly choice of transportation. As of now, the design team is focused on obtaining funding for the nearly $360 million feasibility study and detailing of the four-mile trial route.

 skycycle
Photo Courtesy of Shutterstock

If everything falls into place, in two decades London could be seeing a layered city with new social spaces and amenities as well as the incorporation of automated goods delivery networks. "We welcome the proposals which have been put forward by Foster + Partners and Exterior Architecture and are always happy to look at ways we can contribute to improving travel and transport in London. We will continue to liaise with all involved as the aspiration for this innovative scheme develops,” said a spokesman for Network Rail. 

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Carol Driver
A journalist with more than 12 years' experience writing, subbing and editing at national and regional publications and websites in the UK.

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