Architects: Exterior Architecture
Location: London, UK
SkyCycle is an urban cycling solution for London from designers Sam Martin and Oli Clark of Exterior Architecture. A cycling utopia, with no buses, no cars and no stress.
London is one of the most dangerous places in the world for cycling. The London Cycle Network is insufficiently safe as cyclists have to navigate around stopped buses and cars, some cyclists choose the safer option of the pavement. Vehicles pull out on cyclists and they find they have no where to go. The Barclays Cycle Superhighway scheme is a good start but it does not do enough for London cyclists. Cars and buses still pull out on cyclists, park on the superhighway blocking the blue lanes and they often are located on the major lorry routes into the city.
SkyCycle is an elevated cycle way providing a safe, continuous and enjoyable way of getting into central London for cyclists. By utilising the air rights of Network Rail’s train lines these raised cycleways could be located on land adjacent to the track or perhaps even clipped on to the existing railway viaducts and bridges, which by their nature act as direct arteries feeding into the City.
SkyCycle had its genesis over 2 years ago when we were walking to the pub and Oli made mention of his final year landscape architecture project whilst studying at the University of Greenwich that looked to utilise space above the railway tracks and, specifically in his scheme, above the Victoria Station lines and yard area between the station and the Thames. Over a few beers at the pub that evening SkyCycle began.
It was mentioned in passing a few weeks ago by Mayor of London Boris Johnson. The reason he knows about it is because of an email from us to his office in February detailing the concept. We received a letter from his office in reply to that email and have subsequently been into City Hall to two meetings with the Deputy Mayor for Transport, Isabel Dedring, TFL and finally with Network Rail. Yes, it is early days but we feel it is worth being excited about and we also feel that getting it out into the open we can through dialogue and discussion critique, test and develop the concept further.
Without the interest or support of Network Rail SkyCycle would not be able to happen. So the stage we are at now is analysing viable sites and opportunities for possible locations and routes for the first stretch of this exciting project within the next few years.
The principle is simple really – currently TfL estimate there are over 500,000 cycle journeys made every day in London, by 2020 they estimate this to be 1.5 million cycle journeys per day. The roads in central London and the arterial routes into London are busy enough with cars, vans, trucks, taxis, buses, motorcycles and bicycles – tripling the amount of cyclists in this environment is, to us, a recipe for a lot of tension on the roads & further compromising of cyclist safety. Yes the roads can be made safer – however the traffic that uses them except perhaps the cars is all a very necessary part of how this city of ours works & how the roads get funded for said improvements. London would find it very difficult to operate as a city without vans, trucks, taxis, buses, motorcyclists and cyclists all accessing the city to keep it operational. London has a finite amount of space at street level so creating more space when you also need to accommodate pedestrians as well means that without a radical reduction in traffic capacity and therefore a compromising of how this city works then we believe there needs to be an alternative for providing a safer environment and option for cyclists.
SkyCycle will not replace the roads, it will simply be an alternative option; the roads of London still need massive improvements for cyclist safety and this can be paid for with public money & road user taxes; SkyCycle will not be publicly funded; SkyCycle will be a users pays alternative to riding on the roads; SkyCycle will be a commuter option and will deliver people to their destinations as quickly and efficiently as trains or tubes; SkyCycle will need to be on Network Rail land and perhaps in some cases on local authority land; SkyCycle would be operated by TFL; SkyCycle will get Sam back onto a bicycle and we believe here it is an essential part of the future growth of London and is a very necessary piece of infra structure that will put London on the map as a city for the future.