“Is London Serious About Building a Network of Elevated Bike Lanes?
The bicycle infrastructure arms race has moved forward once again with the news that London is toying with the idea of elevated bike highways.
The project is the work of Sam Martin, of Exterior Architecture, who’s spent the last two years developing a concept for bike lanes truly separated from traffic. Martin doesn’t bike anymore for safety reasons. But he would get back on two wheels to ride the SkyCycle, his proposal for elevated bike lanes that’s already piqued the interest of London Mayor Boris Johnson.
“It came as all good ideas do,” Martin says, “walking to the pub.” London’s outer districts are threaded with overhead railways, erected during the Victorian era and still used daily by commuter trains. Passing under one such viaduct, a young colleague of Martin’s, Ollie Clark, mentioned to his boss an idea he had to use that infrastructure for something else — why not bike lanes, they reasoned. Two years after hammering out a concept, Martin and co. got the chance to pitch it to Johnson and affiliates of Network Rail, which owns the city’s overground rail infrastructure.
The meeting, he says, went well. “There’s a huge appetite and desire to make this happen, but it needs to be thoroughly tested and we need to identify potential sites.” Exterior Architecture is working now on assembling a more concrete proposal. Contrary to reports in the Daily Mail, Martin says, no location has been chosen. It would probably be somewhere in North London.
Made of steel and glass, the SkyCycle pathways would provide an above-ground path for long-distance bicycle commuters. Entrances and exits would be placed at regular intervals, perhaps at stations, and users would pay a swipe-in toll of one pound with their Oystercards. Because overhead rail links suburbs to the city and runs between London’s biggest stations, such a network could serve all types of commuters. With a corporate sponsor, SkyCycle could avoid dependence on public funding. Londoners are wary of the latter option, particularly with a project as fantastic as this one.
Johnson has said he’s interested, and has a record for realizing biking infrastructure. “The Mayor is committed to leading a cycling revolution in London,” a spokesman for the mayortold the Times of London. “The use of railway land or elevated cycleways to provide fast and direct cycling routes around the capital is an exciting idea that his team are looking into.”
Via: The Atlantic Cities
Image: Sam Martin/Exterior Architecture
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