Bike lanes are wonderful things, but those pesky cars and drivers want to keep that space where the bike lanes want to be. So designers keep trying to come up with ideas to create bicycle highways that separate the bikes from the cars. In London, the ideas are particularly imaginative, and the criticism of them by people who actually ride bikes are particularly hilarious. The latest proposal from architect David Nixon and artist Anna Hill, along with engineering giant Arup, is the Thames Deckway. In a statement, the River Cycleway Consortium explains the reasoning behind the almost billion dollar project:
London needs to think outside the box of conventional solutions to solve its deep-seated traffic and pollution problems. The river Thames, London’s main transportation thoroughfare from Roman times up to the 19th century, is overlooked today as a major travel artery except for a handful of passenger boats.
A lot of people have pointed out the problems with this proposal, but Feargus O'Sullivan of CItyLab is particularly funny and nasty at the same time.
The proposal isn’t just wrong. It’s a whole club sandwich of wrongness, made up of many delectable layers of stupid.
He concludes that the whole proposal fits right in with the way things work in London.
In this zany, smoke-ring world—where basic services are a luxury but the sky is the limit for spectacular white elephants—the River Cycleway plan makes sense. Sure it’s hilarious, but it’s also the sort of sideshow that’s distracting from meaningful attempts to make London a better city to live in. For people who actually care about this city, this matters. To paraphrase the Sex Pistols, there’s no future while London’s dreaming.
London will have bike highways in the sky
This isn't the first pie in the sky scheme for a separated bike lane in London; Norman Foster recently proposed his Skycycle bike superhighway, to be constructed over rail rights-of-way. The always trenchant Mikael Colville-Andersen took it apart with words that could also apply to the Thames floating path:
Ideas like these are city killers. Removing great numbers of citizens who could be cycling down city streets past shops and cafés on their way to work or school and placing them on a shelf, far away from everything else. All this in a city that is so far behind in reestablishing cycling as transport that it's embarrassing.
More in TreeHugger: Quote of the day: Mikael Colville-Andersen on Lord Foster's Sky Cycle scheme for London and London will have bike highways in the sky
Elevated Bike Lane System Proposed for London
Then there was Sam Martin's Skycycle Sarah Laskow of Grist hit the right notes on this one, calling it a " a cross between the High Line and the credits of Futurama." She noted that the spaces under elevated roads and rails are not so terrific.
The underpass of a bike-way bridge probably isn’t any more charming than the underpass of a highway or elevated train. But this could be a big win for bikers, graffiti artists, and people who like to pee on the side of the road.
More in TreeHugger: Elevated Bike Lane System Proposed for London
Wire Bike Lanes in The Sky Are Faster, May Be Safer, Certainly More Badass
Being a minimalist at heart, and fond of the London skyline, I remain fond of Martin Angelov's Kolelinia Project, where the track is in fact little more than a trough that your wheels run in. Don't worry, there are safety harnesses and a mechanism connected to a cable above to keep you from falling off. It's all very safe. We first covered this in 2010; I don't know why it hasn't caught on.
What could possibly go wrong?
Velo-City: Cycle Tracks Will Abound in Utopia
All of the above schemes owe a debt to Chris Hardwicke, who first proposed his Velo-City scheme back in 2005. Chris described it as "a high speed, all season, pollution free, ultra-quite transit system that makes people healthier. Using an infrastructure of elevated cycle tracks, velo-city creates a network across the City."
The candidate for Mayor of Toronto who promises to build out this map will get my vote.
More on Velo-city in Related Links: