London will have bike highways in the sky

© Foster and Partners

TreeHugger first showed landscape architect Sam Martin's SkyCycle proposal for a separated, elevated bike lane in the sky last year, to almost universal derision in comments. Then Lord Foster joined the party, and has just released updated renderings of the scheme to place bike lanes on top of rail corridors. He tells the Sunday Times:

“Cycling is one of my great passions — particularly with a group of friends. I believe that cities where you can walk or cycle rather than drive are more congenial places in which to live.

“To improve the quality of life for all in London and to encourage a new generation of cyclists we have to make it safe. However, the greatest barrier to segregating cars and cyclists is the physical constraint of London’s streets, where space is at a premium. SkyCycle is a lateral approach to finding space in a congested city.”

skycycle map© Foster and Partners

Cyclists remain dismissive, making the usual points in that " you do have to have some infrastructural changes for cycling, but they are about taking space from motor traffic on our streets, not sticking us up in the sky," or my favorite:

So the surface of the planet, which belongs to all of us, is to implicitly be reserved for motorists, while cyclists will have to pay a special premium in order to travel anywhere? How long before they decide that pedestrians also need to be shoved out of the way of the motorist (and charged for the privilege also?).

In fact, there is room for both as they serve different purposes. As Chris Hardwicke pointed out years ago when he developed Velo-City, and I described earlier,

The Velo-City circulation system acts much like a controlled access highway system for bikes, moving cyclists at high speed from neighborhood to neighborhood, at which point you transfer to the local bike lane or road grid. Because it is so efficient, it lets cyclists travel longer distances in less time. Like any highway system eventually does, it would increase the number of bikes on the local roads, not decrease them.

Of course nobody is going to pay US$ 9 million a mile for a bicycle superhighway so it is all a fantasy, but it should not be dismissed out of hand by the cycling community.

London will have bike highways in the sky
The cycling community is aghast, saying bike lanes should be in the streets and that it is all a fantasy. There is room for both.

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