Boris Johnson sketches out plan for elevated cycle paths running alongside London's main railway lines

Sustrans welomes proposals, but LCC says priority should be on infrastructure on roads currently used by cyclists

by Simon_MacMichael   August 16, 2012  

Main line out of Waterloo passing New Covent Garden Market at Nine Elms (Google Maps)

Mayor of London Boris Johnson has revealed plans for a network of elevated traffic-free cycle paths in London running alongside main railway lines in the capital.

The idea is in its infancy, but Mr Johnson told The Times: “There is a proposal, which is very interesting, to hook up mainline stations in London along the side of the raised railway tracks, with a new cycle path. So from Clapham Junction to Waterloo – around town like that.”

The Times likens the initiative to New York City's High Line, an aerial greenway following the route of a disused railway on the western side of Lower Manhattan, which the newspaper says “allows people to walk and cycle without encountering city traffic.”

That’s not in fact the case – bicycles are banned from the High Line, as they are from the elevated section of the route in Paris that inspired it, the Promenade Plantée, much of it also built on a disused railway viaduct that begins behind the Bastille Opera, and which opened in 1993.

A spokesman for Mr Johnson told The Times: “The Mayor is committed to leading a cycle revolution in London. The use of railway land or elevated cycleways to provide fast and direct cycling routes around the capital is an exciting idea that his team are looking into.”

Certainly the idea, on paper, seems to have strong merit, although the costs would be likely to be considerable and not all of the railway lines heading into the centre of London would be suitable for such treatment, with those into Kings Cross, for example, making their final approach to the station through tunnels.

German Dector-Vega, London Director at Sustrans, welcomed the idea, saying: “This is a great opportunity to extend London’s cycling network, enabling more people to get about by bike and ensure a sustainable transport legacy for the Olympic Games.”

A spokesman for the London Cycling Campaign, however, insisted that the focus should be on improving the quality of facilities for cyclists on the capital’s road network, including making conditions safer for them.

“While we’re fascinated by Boris Johnson’s plans to put cycle routes along London’s working railways and would love to know how far his negotiations have got with Network Rail, we’d much rather hear the mayor say he’s prepared to build high-quality cycling facilities on the streets that Londoners use every day.”

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Rail lines in the city do provide good ways to avoid crossing busy roads (since a level crossings on Green Lanes at Finsbury park would hardly be a clever idea, and this is one key location where a great opportunity exists - but a lot of lines penetrating in to central London go underground. There may be some potential :

At Finsbury Park part of the disused bridge support was demolished to build the cycle park, but old bridge supports continue through so a route from Finsbury Park through to the Emirates stadium can be fitted in on disused railway land - potentially carried on through Copenhagen East Tunnel to Kings Cross - a brilliantly direct cycle route. This path would deliver a clear and fast way to cross the very busy roads outside Finsbury Park Station, and give a great improvement for local streets on match and event days. But for a real benefit for cycling I'd suggest that rather than creating cycle routes, some of the 'spare railway space is used to deliver freight loading facilities, a detail where TfL has failed to deliver following the closure of their Freight Unit.

At Kings Cross we've had around 2 solid moths of 40+ of the most deadly trucks on the road making 140-150 trips per day (around 5000T/day) just moving the spoil excavated from one site - and another site next door with a similar export in progress all by road through the city, when it could all be loaded on to trains carrying 1500-2000 Tons at a time using a fraction of the number of trucks on short trips to the rail siding. This and use of the river (2000 Tons per barge(s) & tug combination) would rid the city streets of much of the damage and danger and emissions delivered by the road haulage associated with construction sites - and most of the cyclists killed in the past year have been killed by construction site trucks.

47 years of breaking bikes and still they offer me a 10 year frame warranty!

A V Lowe's picture

posted by A V Lowe [468 posts]
16th August 2012 - 15:12

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Nice one, Boris. Like the High line in NYC. Except not. Ignorant of the facts. Well, at least he's consistent.

All mouth and no trouser clips.

posted by Coleman [329 posts]
16th August 2012 - 15:27

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Boris Johnson does not care about cycling or cyclists. He never has and he never will.

He has done absolutely nothing to improve cycling in London since he became mayor except to leech off of Ken Livingstone's velomobile roll out.. All this is are soundbites to gain political points after recent Olympic cycling successes and nothing more.

Boris Johnson is a Tory and he is in power to serve the interests of bankers and the rich elite; neither of whom care one bit about cycling.

posted by lokikontroll [51 posts]
16th August 2012 - 15:30

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It will never happen - Boris trying to push Cameron out of the news again, and succeeding

posted by fluffy_mike [79 posts]
16th August 2012 - 16:03

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Coleman wrote:
Nice one, Boris. Like the High line in NYC. Except not. Ignorant of the facts. Well, at least he's consistent.

All mouth and no trouser clips.

To be fair to Boris, it was The Times, not him, that compared it to the High Line and incorrectly said that cyclists were allowed on it (a mistake subsequently repeated by the Mail).

Simon_MacMichael's picture

posted by Simon_MacMichael [7894 posts]
16th August 2012 - 16:06

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For about 5 minutes I thought this might be a good idea, but it's just another attempt to bully cyclists off the road rather than provide adequate on-road facilities.

When the problem's too difficult to fix, don't bother, just build more roads. Now THAT'S the kind of blue sky thinking we need!

posted by gavcov [1 posts]
16th August 2012 - 16:34

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Simon_MacMichael wrote:
Coleman wrote:
Nice one, Boris. Like the High line in NYC. Except not. Ignorant of the facts. Well, at least he's consistent.

All mouth and no trouser clips.

To be fair to Boris, it was The Times, not him, that compared it to the High Line and incorrectly said that cyclists were allowed on it (a mistake subsequently repeated by the Mail).

Oh, yes. Thanks.

posted by Coleman [329 posts]
16th August 2012 - 16:44

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lokikontroll wrote:
Boris Johnson does not care about cycling or cyclists. He never has and he never will.

He has done absolutely nothing to improve cycling in London since he became mayor except to leech off of Ken Livingstone's velomobile roll out.. All this is are soundbites to gain political points after recent Olympic cycling successes and nothing more.

Boris Johnson is a Tory and he is in power to serve the interests of bankers and the rich elite; neither of whom care one bit about cycling.

I'm with you apart from the Tory bit. He's a politician. They're generally as bad as each other. I didn't vote for him but there was no way I was going to vote for that awful Livingstone creature. Jones was the only one who showed any real commitment to improving cycling conditions in the capital.

Looking at the people cycling into the City and Canary Wharf in the morning I'd imagine there's a fair number of conservatives amongst them. Privately owned vehicles that don't depend on a unionised workforce operating public transport. Zipping past the buses full of hoi polloi. Very Tory.

posted by Coleman [329 posts]
16th August 2012 - 16:54

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I'm disappointed, although it seems like a bright idea. I came to this article expecting to see something like this

"Boris Johnson sketches out plan for elevated cycle paths running alongside London's main railway lines"

depositphotos_4520020-Freight-train.jpg
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posted by Gkam84 [8681 posts]
16th August 2012 - 17:00

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Am all for improving cycling opportunities and safety; this is an Interesting but slightly air head idea, only potentially viable under a plan B scenario. That is to say when you want to invest heavily in infrastructure to boost the economy regardless of cost benefit analysis and comparison. Oh forgot there no such thing as plan B ...... sorry it's not going to happen.

THE ONLY WAY IS BIKE

posted by lushmiester [156 posts]
16th August 2012 - 17:04

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At least it's a bit of innovative thinking - one of the problems with creating better cyclign infrastructure in London is space. Before anyone starts, yes, I know there'd be plenty of space on the roads if we banned all the cars - but that isn't going to happen because the general public would never support it.

So at least this idea addresses that issue - it identifies space, which is available, and in many cases there are direct routes in to town which simply wouldn't be feasible on the roads (look, for example, at Elephant and Castle - the best possible place to be there is nowhere near the road). Instead of slating the idea and claiming it will never happen (and therefore adding to the likelihood that it won't), perhaps people could get behind it, be a bit constructive, point out some of the difficulties to the Mayor and suggest ways around them?

posted by step-hent [646 posts]
16th August 2012 - 17:33

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x

posted by lokikontroll [51 posts]
16th August 2012 - 18:22

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posted by handlebarcam [527 posts]
16th August 2012 - 19:49

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I don't live in the big smoke, neither do I cycle in it so perhaps I don't fully understand the sheer venom aimed at Boris and this idea. To me, anything that considers opening up places to cycle is a bonus. Making the existing road network more inclusive to one set of users potentially excludes it to others, therefore looking for alternatives which don't put different groups into confrontation is surely a good thing?

posted by petejuk [25 posts]
16th August 2012 - 20:48

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Yep, let's have the bicycle monorail instead.

Petejuk - Boris hasn't done so much for cycling in London and even the Boris bike hire system was originally planned by his predecessor, ken Livingstone.

OldRidgeback

posted by OldRidgeback [2125 posts]
16th August 2012 - 22:19

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Never. Gonna. Happen.

posted by Some Fella [715 posts]
17th August 2012 - 0:28

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step-hent wrote:
At least it's a bit of innovative thinking - one of the problems with creating better cyclign infrastructure in London is space. Before anyone starts, yes, I know there'd be plenty of space on the roads if we banned all the cars - but that isn't going to happen because the general public would never support it.

So at least this idea addresses that issue - it identifies space, which is available, and in many cases there are direct routes in to town which simply wouldn't be feasible on the roads (look, for example, at Elephant and Castle - the best possible place to be there is nowhere near the road). Instead of slating the idea and claiming it will never happen (and therefore adding to the likelihood that it won't), perhaps people could get behind it, be a bit constructive, point out some of the difficulties to the Mayor and suggest ways around them?

Mr. Step-Hent,

I am afraid you don't understand the situation.

Boris Johnson has absolutely no intention whatsoever of doing anything to improve cycling and this idea is just that. And an idea that he has absolutly zero intention of moving forward with.

Moreover, he cares not a whiff about cyclists who die on roadways. To a Tory, cycling deaths are simply acceptable damage because to them its the risk you've chosen to take when you get on a bicycle. Roads are for cars in their mind and in the mind of their general constituency.

Labour politicians don't care and Tory's certainly don't care about the common man.

Boris Johnson is merely a puppet of the banking industry and other financial elite. As are most politicians these days be they Lib Dem, Labour or whatever.

All you have are varying shades of right wing politics & politicians these days. Watch the screws turn as the economy gets worse; whomever is in office.

And anyway, your assertions are wrong. There is plenty of space for cycling infrastructure in London and elsewhere in the UK without "banning" all cars. See what the Dutch have done in a 30 year span. And the majority of their roadways were far more narrow.

You wont hear assertions about a "lack of space" for cycling coming from anyone who really cares about people and the environment. Tory's don't care about either.

posted by lokikontroll [51 posts]
17th August 2012 - 3:22

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"Certainly the idea, on paper, seems to have strong merit"

No it doesn't.

Cyclists currently risk death or serious injury because London's roads have been designed only with fast drivers in mind. Consequently, people who would like to cycle are too scared to do so.

It's a waste of *our* money for this daft idea to be given any time and space by City Hall, TfL and whoever happens to own the railways today (and Boris doesn't own the Overground - yet, if ever).

posted by austen.croydonc... [10 posts]
17th August 2012 - 9:37

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Coleman wrote:
lokikontroll wrote:
Boris Johnson does not care about cycling or cyclists. He never has and he never will.

He has done absolutely nothing to improve cycling in London since he became mayor except to leech off of Ken Livingstone's velomobile roll out.. All this is are soundbites to gain political points after recent Olympic cycling successes and nothing more.

Boris Johnson is a Tory and he is in power to serve the interests of bankers and the rich elite; neither of whom care one bit about cycling.

I'm with you apart from the Tory bit. He's a politician. They're generally as bad as each other. I didn't vote for him but there was no way I was going to vote for that awful Livingstone creature. Jones was the only one who showed any real commitment to improving cycling conditions in the capital.

Looking at the people cycling into the City and Canary Wharf in the morning I'd imagine there's a fair number of conservatives amongst them. Privately owned vehicles that don't depend on a unionised workforce operating public transport. Zipping past the buses full of hoi polloi. Very Tory.

Actually, I think you are both wrong. Boris DOES care about cyclists. He is one,and a genuine one at that - not the play-act put on by Cameron at his strategy guru Steve Hilton's advice to make him look like a man of the people rather than the old Etonian toff that he is. Boris cycles extensively around town to attend business meetings, and he does so in suit and tie, and no helmet - one area where I support his libertarian viewpoint.

And that is precisely the point. Boris is hidebound by his politics. He is a libertarian tory, one of those who believes that people should have the freedom to do as they wish and that the state should not interfere to influence choices. I think his belief in this is genuine, and it is shared by a number of his tory colleagues in the GLA, such as Andrew Boff and James Cleverley, both active commuter cyclists and regular nice people otherwise.

The thing which, in my view, they are blind to about their philosophy is that there is no such thing as pure freedom of choice, and it is not true that the state does not interfere in people's choices - it can't be done that way. In fact, people are NOT free to choose cycling because there is a powerful influence against - fear of coming to harm at the hands of motorists. And that fear is engendered by deliberate actions of the state which are designed to favour privately operated, even individually operated, motor vehicles above alternatives including active travel (walking and cycling) and public transport by road or rail.

If their philosophy is genuine, then it has been corrupted by the buying of influence by the motor industry, probably one of the top three most powerful world industries (after farming and the arms trade - or possibly before). They employ highly paid lobbyists to argue behind closed doors, and they keep the media afloat with advertising spend, which makes newspapers in particular beholden to them for their survival, and thus vulnerable to have their editorial position dictated to them.

posted by Paul M [306 posts]
17th August 2012 - 10:44

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in durham, there ere ideas to make a cycle path running across the viaduct there which is massive. This would mean it would be the fastst way of travel because it cuts out the hills. with boris jhonsons idea it basically about show. Why the hell would you build a bike path high in the air? no reason because he's not going to.

hi

posted by cool guy 999 [54 posts]
17th August 2012 - 14:48

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Paul M wrote:
Coleman wrote:
lokikontroll wrote:
Boris Johnson does not care about cycling or cyclists. He never has and he never will.

He has done absolutely nothing to improve cycling in London since he became mayor except to leech off of Ken Livingstone's velomobile roll out.. All this is are soundbites to gain political points after recent Olympic cycling successes and nothing more.

Boris Johnson is a Tory and he is in power to serve the interests of bankers and the rich elite; neither of whom care one bit about cycling.

I'm with you apart from the Tory bit. He's a politician. They're generally as bad as each other. I didn't vote for him but there was no way I was going to vote for that awful Livingstone creature. Jones was the only one who showed any real commitment to improving cycling conditions in the capital.

Looking at the people cycling into the City and Canary Wharf in the morning I'd imagine there's a fair number of conservatives amongst them. Privately owned vehicles that don't depend on a unionised workforce operating public transport. Zipping past the buses full of hoi polloi. Very Tory.

Actually, I think you are both wrong. Boris DOES care about cyclists. He is one,and a genuine one at that - not the play-act put on by Cameron at his strategy guru Steve Hilton's advice to make him look like a man of the people rather than the old Etonian toff that he is. Boris cycles extensively around town to attend business meetings, and he does so in suit and tie, and no helmet - one area where I support his libertarian viewpoint.

And that is precisely the point. Boris is hidebound by his politics. He is a libertarian tory, one of those who believes that people should have the freedom to do as they wish and that the state should not interfere to influence choices. I think his belief in this is genuine, and it is shared by a number of his tory colleagues in the GLA, such as Andrew Boff and James Cleverley, both active commuter cyclists and regular nice people otherwise.

The thing which, in my view, they are blind to about their philosophy is that there is no such thing as pure freedom of choice, and it is not true that the state does not interfere in people's choices - it can't be done that way. In fact, people are NOT free to choose cycling because there is a powerful influence against - fear of coming to harm at the hands of motorists. And that fear is engendered by deliberate actions of the state which are designed to favour privately operated, even individually operated, motor vehicles above alternatives including active travel (walking and cycling) and public transport by road or rail.

If their philosophy is genuine, then it has been corrupted by the buying of influence by the motor industry, probably one of the top three most powerful world industries (after farming and the arms trade - or possibly before). They employ highly paid lobbyists to argue behind closed doors, and they keep the media afloat with advertising spend, which makes newspapers in particular beholden to them for their survival, and thus vulnerable to have their editorial position dictated to them.

A libertarian Tory is nothing more than a red-herring political position. Of course he doesn't want the "government" to do anything. Because actually activating any government initiative would disrupt the existing power base.

And I absolutely do think Boris is a phony cyclist. He is simply trying to burnish his green credentials.

How many simple and inexpensive things he could have done to save the lives of cyclists since he became mayor. He has chosen to do none of them. He's done absolutely nothing. No wing mirrors compulsory on lorries in London, no driver education about sharing the road. FFS he has let motorbikes in the cycle lanes. He diminished the congestion zone!

His party has removed the gatso's and declared an end to Labour's war on the motorist! Cycling has actually gone backwards since his tenure started.

And of course, the financial elite and lobbying of auto industry, oil, etc are his paymasters. Its rotten at its core and Boris has you hoodwinked if you think he or any other Tory cares about cyclists. They do not. They do not serve the people and they barely pretend to.

Proof is in actions not words. Boris and the rest of the Tories have blood on their hands as far as I am concerned.

posted by lokikontroll [51 posts]
17th August 2012 - 19:18

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Leaving aside the politics for a moment, the idea, for most of London, is a stupid unworkable one. It might just be possible for some parts of the old Southern region, but any railway with overhead electrics is clearly impossible. This is just hot air, not a serious proposal.

StevieG

posted by stevengoodfellow [38 posts]
17th August 2012 - 23:13

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Boris Johnson only started riding a bike in London following a driving ban. Bear that in mind.

OldRidgeback

posted by OldRidgeback [2125 posts]
17th August 2012 - 23:59

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Silly road.cc - never report anything about cycling that a politician has said, especially a Conservative politician. The trolls will froth themselves into a frenzy. It especially doesn't matter what the politician said, only his or her political leaning.

posted by Pierre [79 posts]
20th August 2012 - 10:03

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