Following the success of its European predecessors such as Denmark and Amsterdam, the English industry is interested in making London a capital city reliant on bicycle infrastructure.
The city plans to develop large-scale bicycle infrastructure, which will largely change the social and lifestyle norms and congestion issues in the major city, and may also drastically alter the city’s aesthetic.
A new proposed SkyCycle would see a bicycle network raised above the streets of London, linking the mainline train stations together. Landscape architect and Exterior Architecture director Sam Martin devised the idea to raise the cycling infrastructure in order to develop a bike network that avoids both dangerous traffic and major built environment redevelopment.
“[Transport London] estimate the number of journeys made by bike will treble to around 1.5 million by 2020,” Martin says. “Where are they meant to go? SkyCycle is the next logical step, because you can’t realistically build more cycle lanes on ground level.”
While the proposed development has been likened to the New York High Line, Martin counters that the infrastructural nature of the proposal really sets it apart from the aforementioned community garden/walkway development.
“[T]he reality is this is a completely different concept,” says Martin. ‘We are talking about new infrastructure for commuters that guarantees safety and will be quicker than taking public transport. It is a much more ambitious and expensive.”
While the development is expected to come with a hefty price tag in the range of ‘tens of millions of funds’ according to designers, commuters will only have to pay £1 per journey on the network.
The cost has been both criticised and praised, with opponents aghast that a free mode of transport should come with a cost, and proponents praising the low cost noting that, if approved, the network will become the cheapest way to commute through London.
London has yet to approve the development, though London Mayor Boris Johnson has called the concept ‘very interesting’ and has privately shown his interest to the designers.
“Boris loves the idea and Network Rail are really positive about it,” says Martin. “I sincerely believe it could be the next significant piece of London infrastructure and would transform the capital.”
The potential for this kind of infrastructure is slowly coming to fruition. London is just one of the major cities worldwide coming forward with bicycle infrastructure plans, with Los Angeles, Copenhagen and Melbourne also backing bicycle infrastructure plans.