SkyCycle aerial cycle lanes in London take a step closer to reality as architects propose test sites to Network Rail

SkyCycle outline their plans for cycle routes alongside railway viaducts to transport bosses

by Simon_MacMichael   September 26, 2012  

London elevated cycle way animation still.png

The landscape architects behind the proposed SkyCycle scheme in London, which would see cycle tracks installed alongside railway viaducts with riders charged £1 a time to use them, were due to meet with Network Rail yesterday to outline their plans.

As reported here on last month, Sam Martin of Exterior Architecture believes that the cycle lanes in the sky would provide a safe alternative to the road for cycling commuters, whose numbers are on the rise – although the comments to that article suggest that many cyclists would much rather see changes at ground level.

The Evening Standard reports that Mayor of London Boris Johnson had given his backing to yesterday’s meeting. Martin and colleague Oli Clark first pitched their idea to Mr Johnson when they met him in a lift at City Hall, where they were due to meet his transport advisors.

“Boris was all over the idea,” said Martin. “He summed it up in one line, ‘It’s like ET flying to the moon, flying over London.’”

The original idea came from his dissertation regarding including cycle ways within a proposed regeneration of Battersea Power Station. “We passed by Queenstown Road railway station. That’s where we thought, ‘Let’s clip the cycle way on to that’,” he explained.

According to the Evening Standard, Martin and Clark believe that there are three specific sites – one in the north, another in the east, and the third in the southwest of London – where their plans could be tested.

The newspaper adds that a potential first route could link Stratford and the City via Liverpool Street and Fenchurch Street station, and while Mr Martin accepts the scheme would cost “tens of millions of pounds,” he adds that sponsorship could be a solution, as Barclays does with the Cycle Superhighways and Cycle Hire Scheme.

A spokesman for Mr Johnson told the Standard: “He is committed to leading a cycling revolution in the capital, and the use of elevated cycleways is an idea worth exploring.”

18 user comments

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I wonder how long this preposterous idea will sustain itself before it dies the death it deserves.

If people will be charged for it, it will not have 100% uptake. (I certainly will never use it).

It will have limited routes seeing as it will follow elevated railways (How many of them exist in North London?)

I have seen people suggest that it will cost more than just adjusting the current infrastructure.

Its not exactly the "Love London, Go Dutch" scheme that the mayor signed up to days before the election.

zanf's picture

posted by zanf [722 posts]
26th September 2012 - 10:46


Doesn't being charged for it (almost as much as for a bus trip) go against one of the reasons people commute by bike - that it's free?!

I'd say the best way to improve cycle safety is to make roads wider whenever possible - so that motorists don't have to do dangerous overtakes. And please, no more cycle paths on the pavement or really close to pedestrians... Who came up with that bright idea?

posted by redbeard497 [13 posts]
26th September 2012 - 11:00


I've not really looked too far into this ..

Why the hell should you pay to use it though, I understand there are costs involved, but have we recently made all roads Toll Roads ..?

No, not yet (it will happen) .. so why on earth would we want to charge cyclists (albeit just a pound) to use this..

Pull the other one Boris...

Me, Myself and I

posted by phax71 [325 posts]
26th September 2012 - 11:03


There is also the issue of not being able to get out of the tunnel at a convenient time - you have to wait for the next exit. And you'll probably have to wait to get on a crowded elevator before you can start cycling.

The way I see this, it's like they're nullifying most of cyclo-commuting's advantages: being free and convenient. It looks it will be just like taking the overground, for example, albeit slightly healthier...

posted by redbeard497 [13 posts]
26th September 2012 - 11:10


I think the concept has got legs, looks a great solution to safe riding in London imo, not sure about the £1 a time though, although I guess if drivers have to be charged for driving into the city, it's a fair proposition.

Interesting to see how this progresses.

posted by Karbon Kev [683 posts]
26th September 2012 - 11:15


redbeard497 wrote:
And please, no more cycle paths on the pavement or really close to pedestrians... Who came up with that bright idea?

Its part of the ethos that TfL work to: do not impede traffic flow, even if it encroaches on pedestrian and cyclist safety (see Kings Cross & Bow Roundabout) and do not remove space allocated to vehicles.

zanf's picture

posted by zanf [722 posts]
26th September 2012 - 11:16


Not convinced at all by this.

I live in Clapham and work in the city so in their theory would be a potential user. But why would I pay £1 for a short streach of my journey (to Waterloo), when I have to get back on the roads for the majority of it?

The picture at the top looks like the skycycle is far too high (picture taken from the London eye prehaps?).

posted by thereverent [354 posts]
26th September 2012 - 11:31


The only way this will happen is if the company building it has ex tory MPs on the board. Ever asked yourself why there's so much pointless road furniture about? Check to see who's on the board of the companies that manufacture the stuff.

posted by belgravedave [254 posts]
26th September 2012 - 11:40


So people pay for roads which they have right to use for free or pay because they can't fleece anymore out of other modes of transport, think again tfl and sort out the roads properly.

posted by southstar [11 posts]
26th September 2012 - 11:44


Hmmm... I wonder which major corporation, with a recent history of sponsorship of cycling, they might possibly be courting with the name SkyCycle? That is the only way this is going to happen, if some organisation pours tens of millions of pounds into it as a PR stunt. And it might work in one or two locations, for tourists. But as a transport solution? Nah. However, it would provide yet another thing for those who hate cyclists to shout out their car windows, and from the opinion columns of Tory wrags: get off the road, you should be in one of those tubes (for your own safety, and my convenience.)

posted by handlebarcam [545 posts]
26th September 2012 - 11:44


This is an even more stupid idea than preferring a ski-lift over the Thames to a bridge, which I thought was an all-time stupid idea. The video doesn't really address the major issue of how to get on and off the thing. I imagine that it will be a staircase, with a "Cyclists Dismount" sign at the top.

posted by SpamSpamSpam [20 posts]
26th September 2012 - 13:20


Much like the Ski Lift, it feels like a tourist attraction, rather than a viable alternative to commuters. Would you end up stuck in the tunnel behind a group of tourist taking in the view?

It also suggests massive pile up to me.

posted by Rvizzle [99 posts]
26th September 2012 - 13:26


Rolling On The Floor Utterly bonkers solution to a major problem of how to get more cyclists on the road in safety. We need to follow Holland and put cyclists at the centre of any road use and improvement policy.

Give cyclists the right of way over cars. On shared routes such as as parts of the National Cycle routes clear rules need to be spelled out - keep left on a bike and keep right if on foot, and above all do not block the whole path whether on foot or bike. Pedestrians should be alert and ready to step aside when they see a cyclist approaching them, which they would if they walk on the right. It's in the Country Code for 'how to walk safely on narrow roads'. Why do we not teach this to our kids? Thinking

posted by BigBear63 [79 posts]
26th September 2012 - 15:15


There's not a country on the planet that's seriously considering this type of impractical and expensive scheme

move along please - nothing to see here

posted by fluffy_mike [94 posts]
26th September 2012 - 15:17


Has Boris canvassed public opinion to find out how many people would actually be willing to pay? It all has a certain "Springfield Monorail" quality about it.

posted by The Rumpo Kid [590 posts]
26th September 2012 - 17:13


Fairly typical Boris though, isn't it? Impractical for people who don't see it as something to use for the sake of saying you have used it, more expensive than an actual solution, but guaranteed lots of coverage in the press. And how typically British, exemplifying the traffic planner/motorist's "Oh, just get them out of the way" attitude to cycling.

"Tant que je respire, j'attaque!"

John_the_Monkey's picture

posted by John_the_Monkey [428 posts]
26th September 2012 - 17:26


I think this is a totally awesome idea and i would definitely be one of the first to cycle on this "scenic" route.
I have always wanted a road to myself without the worries of a bus or truck coming up behind you.

£1 could fair pretty expensive though, especially if you use it daily. Maybe consider an annual or quarterly licence for using this "toll road". I wouldn't mind paying £50 a year, especially if this idea comes with a roof so that it will become very popular when it rains or even snows and all other transport comes to a stand-still.

I really hope this idea becomes popular and expands to all areas of London...especially the South East!

Make it happen already!!!

posted by SELondoner4u [2 posts]
27th September 2012 - 8:08


“Boris was all over the idea,” said Martin. “He summed it up in one line, ‘It’s like ET flying to the moon, flying over London.’”

No it isn't. What a twit.

This is just a distraction.

posted by Coleman [331 posts]
27th September 2012 - 10:39