Melbourne urban planners are considering a two-kilometre elevated cycle path, running alongside an existing railway viaduct, similar to plans that were showcased for a network in London.
Here's a video explaining it better than we ever could:
According the the Australian blog The Urbanist: "Elevation isn’t strictly necessary – that’s just a way of providing a freeway-like bicycle path (segregated, limited-access) in a location where retro-fitting infrastructure is hard. Elevation offers advantages though.
"If the path can be hung off an existing rail line, or erected on columns like a monorail, it’ll have no steep hills, no cars or intersections, and (possibly) no pedestrians with dogs. It’s really just another way of separating cyclists from traffic.
"But there are issues. One is the impact on the streetscape. Bicycle paths need to be reasonably wide so in some circumstances they’ll exacerbate the visual impact of existing rail lines and affect the privacy of adjoining uses."
The blog also points out that a conservative estimate of cost would be around £38m per km, much more than painting a few white lines on a road and letting people get on with it.
But the article's author writes: "Cycling will only be viable in the foreseeable future if it creates a dense network of safe cycle routes. The only way that could realistically be achieved is by converting road space to cycling."
The reason for this, he says, is a need for cyclists to have flexibility about where they ride, and a segregated elevated route would limit that.
He says: "Cyclists don’t cover such long distances and easy, direct access to main routes is extraordinarily important – limiting access would have a significant negative effect.
"There are certainly trunk routes that attract a lot of cyclists, especially for commuting, so they require high capacity, but what’s needed is something in the nature of a road dedicated to cycling rather than something as elaborate as a freeway."
The SkyCycle route in London are being proposed with a per-journey charge of around £1. Would you be prepared to pay for segregated cycleways, even if they didn't take you exactly where you wanted to go? Let us know in the comments below.