London has for many years now been asking itself a question: How do we deal with the explosive growth in city cycling?
It seems the answer may have been found in the form of elevated segregated cycleways, dubbed 'Skycycle'.
London is no stranger to transport infrastructure problems, and is no less a stranger to solving them on a grand scale. In 1860, London christened the world's first underground railway- The Metropolitan railway from North West London to the city. It was a roaring success and paved the way for a massive expansion of underground not only in London, but in major cities worldwide. Without the London Underground we wouldn't have the Tokyo Metro, or the New York Subway.
With space on London's roads at a premium, a new solution for cyclist safety has been long mulled over. In a city with thousands of years of development and redevelopment history, and not a lot of space, it was going to take a unique and ingenious idea to solve the problem. The solution needed new corridors for cyclists into Central London, through heavily built up areas. Acquiring land would have been a monumental task. Creating more space on the roads sfor cyclists would be as challenging as it sounds.
The answer has been staring us in the face, even since well before 1860 - the rail corridors.
The network of train lines, caterpillaring their way from the suburbs to the central termini, has existed longer than the cycling problem, and may prove to be the perfect cycling solution. To build elevated cycle paths above the rail lines would alleviate the need to acquire land from more than one owner (Network Rail) and provide direct routes from all corners of London into the centrifuge. Rail corridors also follow flat terrain as traditionally trains aren't asked to climb steep gradients- the cyclist and train are kindred spirits.
If this project goes ahead, it will be a world leading city infrastructure project. Cycling is here to stay, and cities need to move fast to adapt. We're looking forward to London once again leading the way. Let's just home for minimal political beauracracy and red tape, so we can get the skycycles built as soon as possible.