Architects design elevated cycleways along the Regent's Canal to alleviate congestion

Dismissed as 'potty' by Canal and River Trust

by Sarah Barth   April 14, 2013  

Regent's Canal London (photo: Caroline Ford)

A firm of architects has come up with a solution to cyclist congestion on London's Regent's Canal - with a raised cycle path on struts above the canal itself.

In a nod to New York's Highline, the drawings plot an elevated route from Angel, Islington to Victoria Park.

Antony Nelson, of landscape architecture firm Design International, told the East London Advertiser: “We were looking for an interesting aspirational project to work on to do with transport and cycling.

“I always notice the towpath is really congested with cyclists and pedestrians and it’s not really fit for purpose, and there are constant clashes between pedestrians and cyclists.”

But the Canal and River Trust who manage the waterway were not so impressed.

A spokesman said: said: “We love innovation, but this is just plain potty!

“Many boaters cruise the Regent’s Canal and this design would plunge them into darkness, as well as calling for some pretty perilous navigation.”

And even cyclists couldn't be persuaded. Gerry Matthews of Tower Hamlets Wheelers cycling group said: “We welcome sympathetic improvements to the towpath in places, but the canal should preserve its character and remain a tranquil zone."

Recently we reported how cyclists have been asked not to use towpaths along the Regents Canal to commute to work as it’s not deemed the right environment to cycle at speed.

The Canal and River Trust says that up to 500 cyclists an hour are commuting on the tow path every day, but other users, like pedestrians and dog walkers, had to share the space and now they are looking to create safe on road routes as diversions for fast riding peak time cyclists.

The trust said the main hotspots for commuter cyclists were westbound routes along the City Road basin in Islington and at Victoria Park during the morning rush hour.

4 user comments

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I 'side-lined' the canal thorough part of Birmingham the other month, and found the alternate reversals of 1 way streets a frustration in legally enjoying a cleaner and faster route.

I find a similar frustration with the Regent's Canal as it passes through from the emergence from the Islington Tunnel and as it heads through Hoxton and skirts South of London Fields. There might be no great need for new construction BUT small measures that create a flowing route that is infinitely more attractive and better connected with key feeder links - such as the very popular path from Broadway (where Hackney has delivered a fine piece of traffic signal removal) to Hackney Lido, effectively a North-South connection starting off from Brick Lane and crossing Bethnal Green Road and carving a parallel option for both Mare Street and Kingsland Road.

Plotting this out shouldn't be any trickier than some of the cycle routes I used to work on with Sustrans. Delivery may raise a few challenges, mostly through the landowners interests rather than technical challenges.

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]
14th April 2013 - 13:54

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A more sensible idea would be to hire "Boris aqualung" equipment for riders to cycle along the bed of the canal!

posted by The Rumpo Kid [590 posts]
14th April 2013 - 19:04

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This chap's practice doesn't seem to have produced anything that's been built yet...

The path appears to be about 2.5m wide with a 30cm high railing. Which would be a bit scary

posted by Al__S [480 posts]
14th April 2013 - 21:08

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So they didn't talk to the canal managers or local cyclists before coming up with this hideous idea?

if they had, they'd know that lots of people divert their cycle journeys on to the canal because they don't want to be mown down by inattentive driving or navigate London's unwelcoming streets.

Make the streets in N London more safe and inviting for cycling, and congestion on the canal will disappear.

posted by fluffy_mike [79 posts]
15th April 2013 - 8:47

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