A Network Of Elevated Bike Lanes For London

Where we’re biking, we don’t need roads.

It’s every urban cyclist’s dream: to be able to cruise through the city completely unburdened by cars. In London, that dream might actually become a reality with the SkyCycle, a network of elevated bike lanes that the city is considering.

Designed by Exterior Architecture, the proposed bike lanes would allow cyclists to travel between train stations, where they would pay a small fee (one pound or so) to use the SkyCycle. That’s a pound more than cyclists are used to paying for the privilege of riding on bike lanes, but still cheaper than public transportation.

Though it appears in renderings to be covered, the SkyCycle network would actually be open-air. Sam Martin, the landscape architect behind the project, told the Daily Mail that the project would work best with a corporate sponsor behind it to ease some of the costs of the SkyCycle, which could take two years to build.

Would the SkyCycle prevent cyclists from reaching certain destinations since it would only have entrances and exits at designated points? Definitely. But think of it more as a cycling superhighway in the sky—it’s not meant to get you those handful of blocks from home to the grocery store, it’s intended to take you from one neighborhood to another across the city.

Martin is in talks with London Mayor Boris Johnson. No concrete plans have been announced, but a network of raised bike lanes seems like the logical next step for a city committed to cyclists that’s simply running out of room on regular roads.

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  • Richard Seyman

    This elevated urban bike highway is a concept that came to me about 20 years ago.  Glad to see it may finally happen somewhere.  In the ultimate version of this "bike freeway" the highway would be enclosed and have separate "tubes" for each direction of travel-- so that-- an artificial TAIL WIND could be pumped through the tubes at high traffic times.  This would allow (low-effort) bike commutes at speeds of 30-45 mph.  Travel across large urban distances by bike would be SUBSTANTIALLY FASTER THAN BY AUTO or bus, fostering shift to bikes becoming the pre-eminent and pre-dominant means for urban travel and eventual ban of autos entirely from the city streets, except possibly for the disabled.     

  • Jordan

    Not sure if i'm a complete fan of the idea although I love the wind tunnel idea by Richard, absolutely brilliant! My main concern would be the Jane Jacobs like separation of activities and possible transference from one problem to another. Cyclists form a large part of the traffic in many areas of London and taking the majority of them away from the street may cause negative flow on effects such as increased crime (eyes on the street) , reduction of local business, deterioration of urban fabric, focus on costly landmark solutions etc etc....While I admire the idea, perhaps a more localised and less expensive solutions might be the way to go? How about improving the already significant amount of already established bike lanes and further reducing car traffic, bike riding education and scaled urban roads more condusive to protecting bike riders rather than separating the activities and building the bike equivalent of car freeways. Something to think about anyway. Sometimes bigger is not better..........Cheers - Jordan