Cycle lanes in the sky

Written by Elena Collins on 15 November 2012

As the British government launches the campaign 'Get Britain Cycling', Exterior Achitecture proposes 'Cycle lanes in the sky'. A new piece of cycling infrastructure across the city of London.

At the beginning of November, the British government launched the campaign ‘Get Britain Cycling’. The All Party Parliamentary Cycling Group (APPCG), supported by the UK Cycling Alliance, is accumulating information on how to make cycling safer and easier across the country before a final report is produced in April 2013.

In the UK, cycling makes up only 2% of all journeys, in comparison to 18% in Denmark and 27% in the Netherlands. In Amsterdam alone, 57% of its citizens use their bikes on a daily basis. The success of London Olympics and Paralympics has boosted the popularity of cycling but even world champions are not safe on British roads. Early this month, winner of the Tour de France and gold medalist, Bradley Wiggins was knocked off his mountain bike near his home in Lancashire. Less than a week later, his coach Shane Sutton suffered the same fate. So far this year, 104 cyclists have been killed in Britain.

sky cycle

So, what initiatives could the British government adopt, which include cycle friendly planning and design, safety and encourage behaviour change? Exterior Architecture have proposed an urban cycling solution for London. Designers Sam Martin and Oli Clark put forward SkyCycle, an elevated cycle way, which the designers claim provides a safe, continuous and enjoyable way of getting into central London for cyclists. By utilising the air rights of Network Rail's train lines, these raised cycleways could be located on land adjacent to the track or even clipped on to the existing railway viaducts and bridges. Users would be charged £1 per journey.

Sam Martin told World Cities Network: “What we want is to bring people in from outside of London on their own bikes in a safe environment. We are not attempting to take people who currently cycle off the road, it’s about putting new people on bikes and getting them into the centre of London in a safe way.”

However, according to The Evening Standard, the Mayor of London has rejected the scheme. The newspaper states that Transport for London and Network Rail were concerned over the costing for the scheme and the lack of capacity across the city. World Cities Network approached Sam Martin over the matter, who confirmed the architects were still in talks with Network Rail and the Mayor of London. 

sky cycle

Transport for London estimate there are over 500,000 cycle journeys made every day in the capital, by 2020 they predict this will increase to 1.5 million. In terms of making London more resilient in regards to its transportation, there needs to be new projects and policies to manage the future growth of the capital and achieve the needs of its citizens. SkyCycle is ambitious and needs significant capital, but “In terms of resilience, it is considering what needs to be done to create a better outcome for cities” explains Sam Martin.

Although it is unclear whether or not SkyCycle will be given the go ahead, APPCG co-Chair, Ian Austin said: “It’s great that all the political parties have expressed support for the ‘Get Britain Cycling’ campaign, but the time has come for the government to commit to real change in the way Britain’s transport system is run to make cycling safer and get more people on their bikes.”  If transportation in British cities is going to become more resilient, the implementation will need to come from both the private and public sector leaders of the built environment for developments to happen. A necessary piece of infrastructure like SkyCycle or a new policy could be put in place after the final report is produced in April 2013.

Categories: Governance, Living, Mobility, London