LondonUnlocked

Boris' Olympic Dream: Cycle Paths

Articles, New ProjectsEditor

A few days ago we took a look at the Mayor's pronouncements about how he'd get the economy moving and the kind of large-scale transport infrastructure projects he envisages as being key to this effort. Today we're taking a look at the first of these ideas, a raised cycle network between mainline London rail stations which Sustran's London director has called 'a great opportunity.'

Here's the Mayor talking about the idea in The Times (£):

“There is a proposal, which is very interesting, to hook up mainline stations in London along the side of the raised railway tracks, with a new cycle path. So from Clapham Junction to Waterloo — around town like that.”

and then a spokesman from the Mayor in the same article:

“The Mayor is committed to leading a cycling revolution in 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.”

This is an interesting proposal. Not very fleshed out, but one that could offer real value to cyclists and other road users. Walking across the bridge-length platforms of Blackfriars to cross the river one can easily imagine a similar, parallel, cycle path alongside.

In 1998&9 the Architecture Foundation ran a competition on the future of London transport, A Car Free London. After almost two years of exhibitions and calls for ideas, five competition winners were chosen, each looking at a different area of London transport. One of the winning schemes was by Reconnect:

To connect the city east-west a dramatic suspended cycle deck is proposed along the South Bank, while the north-south route is opened up by way of 'greening' Hyde Park Corner.

You can find their proposal here (pdf).

Giving cyclists dedicated, safe routes for travel was as good an idea then as it is now. That's always going to be a challenge on congested roads in an expensive city. If the arteries of mainline rail can be added to and adapted to help cyclists and grow their numbers further then the idea should be in play.

The numbers of bike users in London has more than doubled since 2000. Any scheme like this will be expensive (although if one of the goals is inward investment and job creation that's not necessarily a bad thing), be mired in planning issues, and take time. And, as some have suggested, perhaps the money would be better spent improving what cycle routes are already there.

Either way, we welcome the debate. The Mayor needs to think beyond blue paint.

In the next few days we'll consider another of the Mayor's proposals.

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UPDATE

Exterior Architecture has a promo video of what the scheme may look like ("...elevated conduits running across the major commuter routes of London. A cycling utopia, with no buses, no cars and no stress") :